Adam Gussow has a joint appointment in English and Southern Studies. Recent themes in his seminars have included “Southern Musicians’ Autobiographies,” “Freedom Summer 1964: Mississippi’s Civil Rights 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, and jazz); African American literature and cultural politics; 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.
Adam has a Ph.D. and B.A in English from Princeton University and an M.A. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. Between graduate degrees, Gussow spent a decade as a blues harmonica instructor and performer, part of a Harlem-based duo that was recently profiled in a Netflix documentary, “Satan & Adam,” and he continues to record albums and play gigs here in Oxford when time permits. His books include Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir (1998), Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (2000), and Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (2017), which won a Living Blues Award as “Best Blues Book of 2017.” His newest book, Whose Blues? Facing Up to Race and the Future of the Music, will be published by UNC Press this fall.
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, 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.