The graduate program in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi is the only one of its kind in the country. It offers an intense interdisciplinary course of study for a Master of Arts degree touching on all facets of Southern life, history, and culture. Students can study an array of Southern topics and issues, from Faulkner to the blues, from the Civil War to the civil rights movement, from folk art to fundamentalism. Click here to view a list of thesis topics pursued by M.A. students over the years.
Students take core seminars on the interdisciplinary study of the South; seminars on Southern history, literature, music, religion, and other topics; individual study courses that enable them to work closely with individual faculty; and internships that provide supervised work experience in cultural institutions. Students have served as interns with the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Southern Arts Federation, Southern Living magazine, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum in Virginia, the National Archives, and the planning commission in Davidson, North Carolina.
A Master of Arts degree in Southern Studies prepares students for careers in a wide range of fields. Graduates may pursue studies in doctoral or professional programs in American Studies, history, literature, art, music, anthropology, folklore, political science, religion, education, library science, business, and law. Many of our graduates teach, work in museums, and do documentary, archival, and preservation work. One alumnus of the graduate program opened Bottletree Bakery, an Oxford, Mississippi, institution enlivened with folk art stemming from her master’s thesis. Because many of the issues bearing on American culture are felt intensely in the South, a degree in Southern Studies provides a unique perspective for any number of careers a graduate might pursue.
One of the many advantages of our program is its affiliation with the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Both the Center and the Southern Studies Program are housed in Barnard Observatory, an antebellum building listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Graduate students have the opportunity to use the Center’s extensive resources and often work on many of the projects the Center directs. Center projects attract a lively group of visitors, with whom students interact.
The University of Mississippi established the Center in 1977 to make a significant contribution to scholarship nationwide through the development of teaching, preservation and research, and service and outreach programs on the American South. The Center sponsors lectures, symposia, and conferences relating to the study of the South, including the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, the Oxford Conference for the Book, the Porter L. Fortune Jr. History Symposium, and the Southern Foodways Symposium. It also produces films, magazines, and books, most notably the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, and sponsors documentary community projects. The Center helped to set up the Blues Archive and the Southern Media Archive, both located in Special Collections at the University’s John Davis Williams Library.
Archives and Special Collections houses a number of collections that allow students to engage in primary document research on a range of topics. For a list of relevant collections, click here. For a reference guide organized by research topic, click here.
Another great benefit of our program is its location in the town of Oxford, situated in north Mississippi, about 80 miles from Memphis, 60 miles from the heart of the Mississippi Delta, and adjacent to the Appalachian foothills culture of northeast Mississippi. Oxford possesses all the qualities of a small Southern town, but with the cosmopolitan flavor of a college town. USA Today has recognized Oxford as one of the top six college towns in the United States, calling it the “New South Arts Mecca.” It contains many cafes, bars, and restaurants, many of which exhibit work by local artists and feature music by country, blues, and rock ‘n’ roll bands. The University Museum, as well as several art galleries in town, have distinct collections of Southern folk art.