What does it mean to major in Southern Studies?
Southern Studies seeks to document the American South in all of its complexity by investigating challenging topics such as the historical meaning of being a southerner, what it means to be a southerner in the twenty-first century, the relationship of the South to America’s national identity, and the role of the South in an increasingly global world.
Southern Studies is an interdisciplinary major, with students taking classes from across the College of Liberal Arts, including African-American Studies, anthropology, art, English, gender studies, history, music, political science, and sociology. Students get to choose the topics of their research projects in senior seminars. For Southern Studies majors, the laboratory is everywhere they look. Students not only conduct library research but also oral histories, take photographs, listen to music, and consider ways to understand Southern life. They gain a broad understanding of the region and skills in critical reading, analysis, writing, research, and oral presentation.
Why is the University of Mississippi a good place to study Southern Studies?
There are 11 Southern Studies faculty, most with a joint appointment in another department such as English, History, and Sociology & Anthropology. There are close to 20 more faculty who are affiliated with and provide courses that support the major.
Many majors enjoy getting involved in the activities of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, such as the Southern Foodways Alliance, SouthDocs, the Oxford Conference for the Book, and Living Blues magazine.
Dr. Simone Delerme, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and McMullan Assistant Professor of Southern Studies, earned her Ph.D. from Rutgers University. Her research focuses on Latino migration to the South, and the social class distinctions and racialization processes that create divergent experiences in Southern spaces and places. Dr. Delerme’s dissertation, “The Latinization of Orlando: Race, Class, and the Politics of Place,” focused on language ideologies, racial formation, and the embodied social class identities that impacted Latino migration, settlement, and incorporation in Central Florida. She specializes in the anthropology of the contemporary United States with interests in Latino migration, critical race theory, language ideologies, social class inequalities, and suburbanization.
Dr. Delerme’s newest ethnographic research examines migration to Memphis, Tennessee and North Mississippi, places that have experienced an influx of Latinos. She has conducted oral history interviews with Latino restaurant owners and employees in conjunction with the Southern Foodways Alliance. She continues to document how Latinos have been incorporated into the social, cultural, political and economic life of communities in the Mid-South.
Why study Southern Studies at UM? “Southern Studies students have the opportunity to work closely with the faculty, collaborate in their local research projects, and gain first-hand experience about the contemporary South.”
What can UM Southern Studies majors do after graduation?
A liberal arts education empowers and prepares students to deal with complexity and change through a broad knowledge of the world. They gain key skills in communication, problem-solving, and working with a diverse group of people. Related careers in Southern Studies include education, archivist, journalist, cultural affairs officer, arts promoter, museum program specialist, teacher, documentary filmmaker, policy analyst, social worker, urban planning, writer, fundraising, health services, and human resources.
Neal McMillin (BA Southern Studies, economics, with a minor in environmental studies ’14) Home town: Madison, MS
“I began with both Southern Studies and Economics majors. Southern Studies helped me examine the world and my place in it. I then decided that environmental issues represented my niche to make a difference. My work in economics laid the foundation for my perspective on environmental policy that works together with business realities and incentives.”
McMillin spent time in Scotland learning about the emerging marine renewable industry with a particular focus on wave and tidal energy. His thesis focused on the community and environmental impacts of wave and tidal energy development. After an honors course on the lower Mississippi River system, he pursued a Master’s in Marine Affairs at the University of Washington College of the Environment.
McMillin then accepted the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship in Washington, D.C., where he joined Senator Wicker’s staff to promote Mississippi ocean policy. After a year of working on policies related to fisheries, unmanned maritime systems, and water infrastructure, he was promoted to Legislative Assistant with a portfolio including the Commerce Committee’s Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard subcommittee and the Environment & Public Works subcommittees on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety; Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight; and Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife. In addition, Neal covers issues related to the Department of Interior. “Sen. Wicker’s focus on catalyzing National Park Service support in preserving key civil rights sites is exciting and rewarding for me as a Southern Studies major.” Neal’s longer term plan is to return to the South as a leader in environmental policy.
Why Southern Studies at UM? “Southern Studies majors explore the South, and America as a whole, from many different angles. The wide range of classes are meaningful and intriguing. You can sample diverse disciplines and craft a personalized path forward. The faculty gave me the freedom to explore and design a thesis that was impactful to my future. My thesis on the Scottish marine renewables industry set me apart from my colleagues and led me to a marine focus in my policy degree. This experience prepared me to lead Senator Wicker’s environmental policy with a local and international perspective.”
Whom should I contact to learn more about majoring in Southern Studies?
Dr. Ted Ownby, William F. Winter Professor of History and Director
Center for the Study of Southern Culture
The University of Mississippi
University, MS 38677
(662) 915-5993 | firstname.lastname@example.org