Adam Gussow has a joint appointment in English and Southern Studies. He teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses, including 101, 102, 402, 601, and 602, and the cross-listed courses in English, including “The Blues Tradition in American Literature.” Recent themes in his seminars have included “Southern Musicians’ Autobiographies,” “Freedom Summer 1964: Mississippi’s Civil Right’s Watershed,” and “Robert Johnson, the Devil’s Music, and the Blues.” His research and teaching interests include blues music, literature, culture, and tourism; southern music (especially country, bluegrass, jazz, and blackface minstrelsy), African American literature and cultural politics; the Confederate battle flag; the persistence of the pastoral South idea and other southern mythologies; and the long arc from slavery and segregation through the Civil Rights movement and contemporary struggles for racial justice.
A member of the University of Mississippi faculty since 2002, his teaching and research interests include American and African American literature; blues, country, and other southern musics; the pastoral South; Freedom Summer; and the shaping role of race on southern culture. He has published four books: Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir (Pantheon, 1998, reissued by Minnesota, 2009); Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (Chicago, 2002), winner of the Holman Award from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature; Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives From Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post-9/11 New York (Tennessee, 2007); and Busker’s Holiday, a novel (2015). Gussow’s articles and reviews have appeared in American Literature, African American Review, Southern Cultures, boundary 2, and many other publications. His newest book, Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2017.
In addition to his academic credentials, Gussow is a professional blues harmonica player and teacher. As a member of the duo Satan and Adam for more than 30 years, he has played all the major blues, jazz, and folk festivals; toured internationally; recorded half a dozen CDs; and been featured on the cover of Living Blues magazine. He is the founder and creative director of Hill Country Harmonica, an annual event that brings several hundred blues harp players to north Mississippi for a long weekend of lectures, workshops, jam sessions, and concerts.
Ph.D. English Literature, Princeton University (2000)
M.A. English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University (1983)
B.A. English and American Literature, Princeton University (1979, magna cum laude)
Teaching and Research Interests
Blues literary and cultural studies
Southern music in regional, national, and global contexts
Slavery, segregation, racial violence, and racial reconciliation
Southern symbols and mythologies (Confederate flag, pastoral South, “the hillbilly,” etc.)
Southern Studies 601: Seminar in Southern Culture
Southern Studies 102: Introduction to Southern Studies II
Southern Studies 102H: Freedom Summer 1964: Mississippi’s Civil Rights Watershed
Southern Studies 602: Cotton, Slavery, Travel, and the Blues
Southern Studies 598: Robert Johnson, the Devil’s Music, and the Blues
Southern Studies 101H: Introduction to Southern Studies (Honors)
Southern Studies 402: Southern Musicians’ Autobiographies
Southern Studies 598: Special Topics: Bringing Blues Into the Schools
Southern Studies 602: Racial Wounds, Racial Healing, Beloved Community
Southern Studies 402: Culture, Creativity, and Southern Autobiography
Southern Studies 101: Introduction to Southern Studies
Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, forthcoming 2017)
review of Yoknapatawpha Blues: Faulkner’s Fiction and Southern Roots Music, by Tim A. Ryan, The Southern Register (Fall 2015): 23-25.
“’I Got a Big White Fella From Memphis Made a Deal With Me’: Black Men, White Boys, and the Anxieties of Blues Postmodernity in Walter Hill’s Crossroads,” Arkansas Review 46.2 (Summer/August 2015): 85-104.
“Creating and Consuming ‘Hill Country Harmonica’: Promoting the Blues and Forging Beloved Community in the Contemporary South,” Creating and Consuming the U.S. South, ed. Martyn Bone, Brian Ward, and William Link (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015), 139-157.
“Heaven and Hell Parties: Ministers, Bluesmen, and Black Youth in the Mississippi Delta, 1920-1942,” Arkansas Review 41.3 (Winter/December 2010): 186-203.
“Playing Chicken With the Train: Cowboy Troy’s Hick-Hop and the Transracial Country West,” Southern Cultures 16.4 (Winter 2010): 41-70. A longer version of the essay was published in a volume entitled Hidden In the Mix: African American Country Music Traditions, ed. Diane Pecknold (Duke University Press, 2013), 234-262.
“Ain’t No Burnin’ Hell: Southern Religion and the Devil’s Music,” Arkansas Review 41.2 (August 2010): 83-98.
review of Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power After Slavery, by Bryan Wagner, African American Review 43.4 (Winter 2009): 770-772.
“Plaintive Reiterations and Meaningless Strains: Faulkner’s Blues Understandings,” in Faulkner’s Inheritance: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 2005, ed. Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J. Abadie (University Press of Mississippi, 2007): 53-81.