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The Old South's Modern Worlds

Before the Civil War, America's slave states were enmeshed in the modernizing trends of their time but that history has been obscured by a deeply ingrained view of the Old South as an insular society with few outward connections. The Old South's Modern Worlds looks beyond this myth of an isolated and backward-looking South to identify some of the many ways that the modern world shaped antebellum southern society. Removing the screen of southern traditionalism turns up new stories about slaves as religious missionaries, Native Americans as hard-driving capitalists, cotton cultivators as genetic scientists, proslavery politicians as nationalists, and planters as experimenters in sexuality. The essays gathered in this volume not only tell these jarringly modern tales of the Old South, they also explore the compatibility of slavery--the defining feature of antebellum southern life--and cultural and material markers of modernity such as moral reform, cities, and industry. The Old South emerges from this volume in a new relationship to national and global histories. Considered as proponents of American manifest destiny, antebellum southern politicians look more like nationalists and less like separatists. Southerners' enthusiasm for humanitarian missions and their debates with moral reformers across the Atlantic bring out the global currents that cut against the localism of southern life. The roles that cities played in marketing, policing, and leasing slaves counteracted the erosion of slave discipline in urban settings. The turmoil that changes in Asian and European agriculture wrought among southern staple producers show the interconnections between seemingly isolated southern farms and markets in distant lands. Diverse and riddled with contradictory impulses, antebellum southerners encounters with modernity reveal the often discomforting legacies left by the Old South on the future of America and the world.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction Reimagining the Old South- L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers ; Part One: The South in a World of Nations ; Part Two: Slavery in a Modernizing Society ; Part Three: Material Progress and Its Discontents ; Part Four: The Blurred Boundaries of Southern Culture ; Part Five: The Long View of the Old South ; Afterword -Michael O'Brien (University of Cambridge) ; Conclusion The Future of the Old South- L. Diane Barnes, Brian Schoen, and Frank Towers

About the Author

DB: Associate Professor of History, Youngstown State University; FT: Associate Professor of History, University of Calgary; BS: Assistant Professor of History, Ohio University


Students and specialists alike will find this collection extraordinarily helpful in placing the Old South within the modernizing world of the nineteenth century. Engaging, insightful and provocative, these essays will become a familiar landmark in the historiography of the South. * John Majewski, University of California, Santa Barbara * The contributors comprise some of the leading younger scholars in the field, and they engage with the subject and with each other in genuinely original and innovative ways that reflect the most recent research questions, and answers, relating to slavery and the South. Absolutely ideal for teaching purposes. * American Nineteenth Century History * A provocative collection of original essays. * The Journal of Southern History * This is a volume of insight, learning, and intellectual verve, sure to spark wide discussion. * Journal of American History *

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