SouthTalks: Workshop: “How (not) to Rename a Street: Contemporary New Orleans and the Municipal Politics of History” @ 327 Lamar Hall
Oct 6 @ 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Photo of Thomas Adams wearing a scarf
Thomas Adams

This workshop begins with a brief recounting of the process by which the New Orleans City Council undertook to rename more than forty streets, parks and places honoring former Confederates and Reconstruction-era insurrectionists, to our knowledge the largest effort at urban recommemoration in modern US history.  As co-chair of the panel of experts that advised the effort and both chose the streets to be renamed and the potential new honorees, Adams will discuss the panel’s vision for the city’s modern commemorative landscape and speak about the special attention given to the political dynamics that both enabled and thwarted their work, arguing that any similar effort elsewhere must have a clear-eyed vision of the minutiae of local politics and a protean, highly contextual analysis of local power.  

Thomas J. Adams, Ph.D. is a New Orleans-based historian, the Senior Research Historian at Monument Lab, and Honorary Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney. From 2014 to 2021 he was a tenured faculty member in History and American Studies at the University of Sydney and has held fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Camargo Foundation, and IGK-Work and Human Lifecycle in Global History. His research focuses broadly on the history and contemporary politics of work, political economy, inequality, and urbanism in the United States and Gulf of Mexico basin. He is currently completing two book projects: “The Servicing of America: Work, Political Economy, and the Ideology of Inequality in the Modern U.S.,” a study that places the cultural value and politics of work at the heart of the last half-century of growing economic inequality; and “Virginia Banks’ Worlds: Labor, Migration, and Political Economy in the Gulf South from Reconstruction to Civil Rights,” a study of labor migration, economic restructuring, and the shifting politics of the Jim Crow regime. Since 2020 he has served as the co-chair of the Panel of Experts for the New Orleans City Council Street Renaming Commission. His work on New Orleans includes the books “Remaking New Orleans: Beyond Exceptionalism and Authenticity” and “Working in the Big Easy: The History and Politics of Labor in New Orleans.” His popular writing has appeared frequently in The Advocate/New Orleans Times-Picayune, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian, Jacobin, The ABC, HuffPost, and Common Dreams.

map of street names

SouthTalks: “Region, Race, and History: Racial Palimpsests in the Southern U.S.” @ Virtual
Oct 12 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

 “Region, Race, and History: Racial Palimpsests in the Southern U.S.” with Angel Parham (virtual event)

The racial history of the US is too often defined monolithically in terms of a Black/White color line which has consistently dominated the country. But careful attention to particular regional histories, particularly in the US South with its connections to Latin America and the Caribbean, make clear that there have always been regional nuances that complicate the Black/White dualism often assumed to shape understandings of race across the United States.

Angel Parham wearing a pink sweater
Angel Parham

Angel Adams Parham is associate professor of sociology and senior fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. Her research is in the area of historical and comparative-historical sociology of race. She is the author of American Routes: Racial Palimpsests and the Transformation of Race, which examines changes in race and racialization in New Orleans under the French, Spanish, and Anglo-American administrations.

This event is cosponsored by the University of Mississippi Center for the Study of Race and Racism exploratory group.

SouthTalks is a series of events – including lectures, performances, film screenings and panel discussions – that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public.

SouthTalks: “Race in ‘The Secret Lives of Church Ladies’” @ Virtual
Oct 19 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

“Race in The Secret Lives of Church Ladies” with Deesha Philyaw and Ethel Scurlock (virtual event)

Deesha Philyaw wearing a colorful dress
Deesha Philyaw

Readers and critics alike embraced Deesha Philyaw’s The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, a collection of nine short stories focused on Black women, sex, and the Black church. Yet the collection is rarely discussed as being “about race,” with emphasis placed instead on issues related to gender, sexuality, and religion. In this conversation between Ethel Scurlock and Philyaw, they will explore the significance of race in the book’s stories.

Philyaw’s short story collection won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, the 2020 Los Angeles Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for fiction. Philyaw is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow and will be the 2022–23 John and Renée Grisham Writer in Residence at the University of Mississippi.

Ethel Young Scurlock wearing a blue blazer
Ethel Young Scurlock by Tenola Plaxico

Scurlock is dean of the University of Mississippi’s Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, associate professor of English and African American studies, and senior fellow of the Luckyday Residential College. Scurlock became a faculty member at the University of Mississippi in 1996 and has taught honors courses for more than 16 years. Prior to being named dean, Scurlock was also the director of African American studies.

SouthTalks is a series of events – including lectures, performances, film screenings and panel discussions – that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public.

SouthTalks: Southern Beauty: Race, Ritual, and Memory in the Modern South @ Off Square Books
Oct 25 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

Southern Beauty: Race, Ritual, and Memory in the Modern South 

Elizabeth Bronwyn Boyd and Darren Grem

woman in a blue dressSouthern Beauty: Race, Ritual, and Memory in the Modern South explains a curiosity: why a feminine ideal rooted in the nineteenth century continues to enjoy currency well into the twenty-first. Elizabeth Bronwyn Boyd examines how the continuation of certain gender rituals in the American South has served to perpetuate racism, sexism, and classism.

Boyd is an independent scholar who lives in Takoma Park, Maryland. A native of Jackson, Mississippi, she holds an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi, and a PhD in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

Darren Grem is associate professor of history and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of The Blessings of Business: How Corporations Shaped Conservative Christianity and coeditor with Ted Ownby and James G. Thomas Jr. of Southern Religion, Southern Culture: Essays Honoring Charles Reagan Wilson.

This event is cosponsored by Square Books.


SouthTalks: “Slavery and Race in Holly Springs” @ Doxey Auditorium, Rust College
Oct 26 @ 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm

“Slavery and Race in Holly Springs”

Jodi Skipper, panel moderator

Jodi SkipperThis panel will be moderated by Jodi Skipper, author of the book Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the US South, and feature cofounders of the Behind the Big House Program, Chelius Carter and Jenifer Eggleston, Members of Gracing the Table, Rkhty Jones and Wayne Jones, and cofounder of Gracing the Table, Alisea Williams-McLeod. Panelists will discuss the development of the Behind the Big House slave dwelling education program and its impacts and role in telling more inclusive historical narratives in the South.

This event is cosponsored by Rust College.


book cover of Behind the Big House, by Jodi Skipper

SouthTalks: “Skating South: Oral Histories and Music” @ Oxford Skate Park
Nov 1 @ 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm

“Skating South: Oral Histories and Music”

Southern Studies students enrolled in SST 533 will present their work, which includes oral histories and videos that document the skateboarding community in Mississippi. The presentation will be followed by a performance from the punk band School Drugs.

SouthTalks: “Humanists as Activists: Exploring Our Social Responsibility as Writers” @ Virtual
Nov 2 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

“Humanists as Activists: Exploring Our Social Responsibility as Writers”

Clinnesha D. Sibley (virtual event)

Black woman in blue shirt smiles This interactive SouthTalk will allow participants to explore characters and dramatic situations that reflect injustices in our current world. In the spirit of social change, urgency, and activism, participants will be able to create and discuss original literature that encourages radical empathy, activates the human heart, and holds the writer accountable.

Clinnesha D. Sibley is the author of plays, blogs, poetry, prose, essays, and creative nonfiction. Her work contributes authentic narratives about Mississippians, southerners, and Black women to the contemporary literary canon and has been recognized by Penumbra Theatre, Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, Kentucky Women Writers Conference, Fade to Black Reading Series, and the New Stage Theatre, among others.

SouthTalks: Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant @ Virtual
Nov 9 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

As a virtual event, Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant presents “Where We Matter: Dean Lucy Diggs Slowe, Howard Women, and the Co-Creation of Campus Belonging, 1922–1937” at noon Nov. 9. From 1922 to 1937 Dean Slowe worked with Howard undergraduates to build an extracurricular program focused on Black women’s community, personal growth, and joy. Drawing on student newspaper accounts about her efforts and impact, Tamara Beauboeuf-Lafontant describes Slowe’s philosophy of “living more abundantly” and the ways it operationalized a sense of belonging and inclusion for Black Howard women.  Beauboeuf-Lafontant is Louise R. Noun Chair in Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at Grinnell College. This event is cosponsored by the University of Georgia Press.

SouthTalks is a series of events (including lectures, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions) that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public, and typically takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory unless otherwise noted.

SouthTalks: Zoë Burkholder @ Barnard Observatory Tupelo Room
Nov 17 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 17 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory, Zoë Burkholder presents “An African American Dilemma: A History of School Integration and Civil Rights in the North.” This study considers what is unique about Black struggles for school integration in the North, how these struggles differed from those in the South, and why these regional distinctions matter in order to shed light on the complex relationship between school integration and the larger Black freedom struggle. Burkholder is an historian of education, professor of educational foundations, and the founding director of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights Education Project at Montclair State University.

Fall Documentary Showcase @ Barnard Observatory Tupelo Room
Dec 2 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

The semester concludes at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory with the fall documentary showcase, a celebration of the work by our documentary students. Each artist will present their work, followed by a Q&A session.