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Classroom Favorites

250,000 readers have voted. Over the last few years, students, scholars, and other readers from all over the globe have accessed our content hundreds of thousands of times: in print, online, and in eBook formats for Kindle, Nook, Sony Library Reader, and more.

We’ve published numerous special theme issues during the past decade, such as our Photography Issue (left), which was our most popular in print in 2011. Our first Food Issue has been the most popular online of all theme and regular issues during 2010 and 2011. (The Second Food Issue is available here.)

Our last decade of material includes hundreds of essays, articles, interviews, and other features. The following list is the TOP 70 MOST-READ ONLINE ESSAYS & FEATURES from the past year. Each link below will take you–at no charge–to the full text of the essay or feature in the Project Muse digital library.



1.  Jim Crow’s Drug War: Race, Coca Cola, and the Southern Origins of Drug Prohibition
by Michael Cohen
 “‘You could buy all the dope you wanted in the drug store. Just ask for it, and you got it.'”

2.  The Edible South
     by Marcia Cohen Ferris
“I used to give a speech which began by claiming that Ella Baker invented the 1960s. That’s not as crazy as it sounds.”

3.  “Oh, so many startlements…”: History, Race, and Myth in O Brother, Where Art Thou? 
by Hugh Ruppersburg
“It’s a southern tall tale, the story of a confidence man, of a treasure hunt, of a man trying to prove himself to his children and estranged wife, of a political campaign, of three buddies on the road, of the quest for home.”

4.  Food for Thought: Race, Region, Identity, and Foodways in the American South
     by Beth A. Latshaw
     “Its sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and touch are thought to evoke reminiscences of childhood, stir up emotions from the past, and aid southerners in creating new memories around the modern dining table. In the hearts and minds of southerners from the past and present, only one thing could possibly embody such traits and induce such sentiment: southern food.”  

5.  “The South Got Something to Say”: Atlanta’s Dirty South and the Southernization of Hip-Hop America
     by Darren E. Grem
“We got the feel of the blues, the togetherness of funk music, the conviction of gospel music, the energy of rock, and the improvisation of jazz.”

6.  Elvis Presley and the Politics of Popular Memory
     by Michael T. Bertand
“‘A Lonely Life Ends on Elvis Presley Boulevard,’ blared the headline of a late-summer special edition of the Memphis Press-Scimitar. ‘The King is Dead.'”

7.  “The Dread Void of Uncertainty”: Naming the Dead in the American Civil War
     by Drew Gilpin Faust
     “The Civil War left some 620,000 American soldiers dead– more than the total number killin all other American wars from the Revolution to Vietnam. But whose responsibility would it be to track the soldiers’ deaths, inform their families, and record their names? On the battlefield of Antietam”

8.  Tracking the Economic Divergence of the North and the South
     by Peter A. Coclanis
     “Plantations dominated the southern economy by the 1770s, and those who controlled them had decisively shaped the region’s economic course, and, perhaps, destiny.”

9.  O Brother, What Next?: Making Sense of the Folk Fad 
     by Benjamin Filene
     “Think of the tale of Bob Dylan going electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival and an enraged Alan Lomax trying to pin Dylan’s manager to the ground while Pete Seeger hunted for an ax to cut the cables.”
10.  Promoting the Gothic South
      by Rebecca C. McIntyre
      “Taking a boat ride down a swampy southern river was a thrilling escape into the unknown, a peep show of the grotesque, a blending of the realistic and the fantastic, which thrilled in a strange and disturbing way.”

11.  Southerners, All?
      by Larry J. Griffin
 “Exactly who is a southerner, exactly who wishes to be a southerner, and who is thought to have the right to claim southern identity are now highly uncertain.”

12.  “Truth is mighty & will eventually prevail”: Political Correctness, Neo-Confederates, and Robert E. Lee
      by Peter S. Carmichael
 “While northerners might appear comparatively apathetic about the memory of the Union cause, white southerners have been tenacious in searching for moral clarity in the past.”

13.   Locals on Local Color: Imagining Identity in Appalachia
        by Katie Algeo
       “Movies, television, comic strips, and postcards feature the lanky, gun-toting, grizzle-bearded man with a jug of moonshine in one hand and a coon dog at his feet.”

14.  “Playing Rebels: Reenactment as Nostalgia or Defense.”
      by James O. Farmer
“In the late 1990s, when journalist Tony Horwitz traveled the South in his quest to understand the tenacious hold the Civil War still has on many in the region, he found that in South Carolina “hardly a day . . . passed without some snippet about the Civil War appearing in the newspaper: a school debate on whether to play ‘Dixie’ at ball games; an upcoming Civil War reenactment.”

15.  The First Century of Blues: One Hundred Years of Hearing and Interpreting the Music and the Musicians
      by R.A. Lawson
      “In 1961 Bob Koester, a producer with Chicago-based Delmark Records, made an amazing discovery. Sleepy John Estes, a bluesman who had achieved fame on the race record labels during the interwar years, was found to be still alive and residing on the outskirts of the small western Tennessee town of Brownsville.” 

16.  Tara, the O’Haras, and the Irish Gone With the Wind
      by Geraldine Higgins
      “Into the debate about place, race, and the second-best-selling book of all time, we can also bring Irishness.” 

New People in the New South: An Overview of Southern Immigration
      by Carl L. Bankston
“The making of a global South is a relatively new phenomenon, yet these dynamics that drive recent immigration to the region have deep historical roots.”

18.  “In My Heart, I’m An American”: Regional Attitudes and American Identity
     by Larry J. Griffin and Katherine McFarland
     “According to the idealistic political understanding of America, part of the nation’s mission-however insufficiently realized in practice, policy, and law- has always been as beacon and magnet to the world’s downtrodden and despised. No other country has become home to so many immigrants, and to so many different kinds of immigrants.” 

 Still Distinctive After All These Years: Trends in Racial Attitudes In and Out of the South
       by Larry J. Griffin and Peggy G. Hargis
  “Fannie Lou Hamer, one of the genuine heroes of the Civil Rights Movement, once said, ‘So this ain’t just Mississippi’s problem. It’s America’s problem.'” 

20.  Blacks and Irish on the Riverine FrontiersThe Roots of American Popular Music
      by Christopher J. Smith
 “One of the realities of American life is that certain features of African American performance style will remain strange and alluring to those outside the culture. Not least among such features is the making of hard social commentary on recurring problems of life, often through cutting and breaking techniques-contentious interactions continually calling for a change of direction.”

21.  Struggling with Robert E. Lee
      by Michael Fellman
“During the war Lee finally found an outlet he could consider legitimate for his most powerful emotions, and as he was at war, that emotion was anger, martial ardor, or as the French call it, rage militaire.”

22.  “A lengthening chain in the shape of memories”: The Irish and Southern Culture
      by William R. Ferris
“Irish rockers U2 are committed fans of B.B. King and wrote the song ‘When Love Comes to Town’ at his request. The song introduced King to important new rock audiences.”

23.  The Twenty Most Influential Southerners of the Twentieth Century
      by John Shelton Reed
  “Unknown saints will have to get their reward in heaven, as usual.”

24.  “Just a Little Talk with Jesus”: Elvis Presley, Religious Music, and Southern Spirituality
      by Charles Reagan Wilson
“Presley faced criticism from ministers about his lewd performances.”

25.  The American South and the Self
      by Larry J. Griffin
“Just as the history of the South is contradictory and contested, so, too, is the identity of southerners.”

26.  “A recourse that could be depended upon”: Picking Blackberries and Getting By after the Civil War
      by Bruce E. Baker
“Nineteenth-century newspaper accounts tell of snake attacks, such as the one on an African American woman near Montgomery, Alabama, who was killed by a large rattlesnake while out picking berries with a companion. Hornets, as my brother could tell you, can be a problem, and bears are not unheard of.”

27.  Commemorating Wilmington’s Racial Violence of 1898: From Individual to Collective Memory
      by Melton A. McLaurin
 “On November 10, 1898, an armed mob of whites destroyed the state’s only daily African American newspaper by burning the building in which it was housed.”

28.  Rethinking the Boundaries of the South
      by Christopher A. Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts
“We can place the South into three categories: ‘southern to the core,’ ‘pretty darn southern,’ and ‘sorta southern.'”

29.  The Dead Mule Rides Again   
by Jerry Leath Mills
“Uncle Jimbo ‘once won a twenty-dollar bet by eating a bologna sandwich while sitting on a dead mule.’”

30.  Canning Tomatoes, Growing “Better and More Perfect Women”: The Girls’ Tomato Club Movement
      by Elizabeth Engelhardt
“If somebody were to tell you that a group of little country girls who never have been near a big city have built up a business so large and important that papers all over the country are telling about it, you would think it was a new kind of fairy tale.”

31.  Another “Lost Cause”: The Irish in the South Remember the Confederacy
      by David Gleeson
      “As there had been only two prominent Irish generals, and only one, Cleburne, had had a very distinguished record, the story of the common soldier was the story of the Irish Confederate.”

32.  There’s a Word for It–The Origins of “Barbecue”
      by John Shelton Reed
“For all that southerners have made barbecue our own, the fact remains that this symbol of the South, like kudzu, is an import.”

33.  Martin Luther King and the Southern Dream of Freedom
      by Timothy B. Tyson
      “When we come together to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is important to realize that the King holiday is just shorthand for honoring all of those local people who stood up for justice in the civil rights-era South. The patient local labors of thousands and thousands of black southerners lifted him up among the rulers of the world.”

34.  Wormsloe’s Belly: Understanding the History of a Southern Plantation through Food
      by Drew A. Swanson
  “The plantation’s residents were such voracious drinkers that the remains of wine bottles were the most reliable way to date colonial discoveries during excavation of the old fort site.”

35.  Driving Miss Daisy: Southern Jewishness on the Big Screen
      by Eliza McGraw
      “‘Now, Miss Daisy, somebody done bomb that temple back yonder, and you know it.’”

36.  Growing Roots in Rocky Soil: An Environmental History of Southern Rock
      by Bartow J. Elmore
“In 1967, the Allman brothers headed to California, hoping to make it big in a band called Hour Glass. The band quickly became popular on the Los Angeles music circuit, playing at popular clubs like the Whiskey a Go Go and drawing the attention of rising rock stars like Neil Young and Janis Joplin.”

37.  “When Carolina Indians Went on the Warpath”: The Media, the Klan, and the Lumbees of North Carolina
      by Christopher Arris Oakley
      “On a frigid Saturday night in January 1958, Grand Dragon James ‘Catfish’ Cole and fifty other members of the Ku Klux Klan gathered for a rally in a cornfield near Hayes Pond just outside of Maxton, a small town located in Robeson County in southeastern North Carolina. But before the rally even began, several hundred Lumbees chased the Klansmen from the frozen cornfield.”

38.  The Cruel Radiance of the Obvious
      by Tom Rankin, Guest Editor
William Eggleston is the point of entry for this preview of the 2011 Photography issue, an introduction that includes striking photographs from Ansel Adams, Walker Evans, and Dorothea Lange, too. Guest Editor Tom Rankin also explores the stunning work of Paul Kwilecki.

39.  “Where Is the Love?”: Racial Violence, Racial Healing, and Blues Communities
      by Adam Gussow
“Does love have the power to heal our blues?”

40.  Sundown Towns and Counties: Racial Exclusion in the South
      by James W. Loewen
“In 1987, Oprah Winfrey broadcast her television show from Forsyth County, Georgia, which had expelled its black population seventy-five years earlier.”

41.  “I train the people to do their own talking”: Septima Clark and Women in the Civil Rights Movement
      from interviews by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall and Eugene P. Walker
by Katherine Mellen Charron and David P. Cline
introduced by Katherine Mellen Charron
“They don’t give the women any of the glory.”

42.  “My idol was Langston Hughes”: The Poet, the Renaissance, and Their Enduring Influence
from a talk delivered by Margaret Walker Alexander
edited and introduced by William R. Ferris
“As a small child in the 1920s, I was very much affected by the Harlem Renaissance. As early as age eleven, I had read poetry by Langston Hughes.”

43.  Forty Defining Moments of the Twentieth-century South
      by John Shelton Reed
“It will surprise no one to see that the two big stories of the twentieth-century South are the transition from an agricultural to an urban society and the transformation effected by the civil rights movement.”

44.  From Smiles to Miles: Delta Air Lines Flight Attendants and Southern Hospitality
      by Drew Whitelegg
  “In 1965 Braniff introduced the ‘air strip,’ in which a flight attendant disrobed bit-by-bit during the flight. Delta preferred coquetry to crudity.”

45.  Black, White, and Huckleberry Finn: Re-imagining the American Dream (review)
      by Christopher Windolph
 “‘Persons attempting to find a motive will be prosecuted.’”

46.  Mother Corn and the Dixie Pig: Native Food in the Native South
      by Rayna Green
 “They all know, out there in Indian Country, that the loss of traditional diet and the cultural skills needed to maintain it has killed more Indians than Andy Jackson.”

47.  “I’m Just a Louisiana Girl”: The Southern World of Britney Spears
      by Gavin James Campbell
“The controversial stage outfits, she reassured us, ‘were the kind of clothes we used to wear in Kentwood. It can be scorching during the summer, so the barer the better!’”

48. Truth, Reconciliation, and the Klu Klux Klan
     by David Cunningham
“One of the Eisenhower Commission’s primary targets was the Ku Klux Klan, linked at that point to hundreds of acts of racial terror perpetrated by some of its approximately 17,000 dues-paying members.”

49.  Alice Walker: “I know what the earth says.”
      with William R. Ferris
“I love B. B. because he loves women. They can be mean, they can be bitchy, they can be carrying on, but you can tell he really loves them. He’s full of love. I would like to be the literary B.B. King.”

50.  Playing Chicken With the Train: Cowboy Troy’s Hick-Hop and the Transracial Country West
by Adam Gussow
“‘My belt buckle is my bling-bling. It’s just going to keep getting bigger.'”

51.  Haunting America: Emmett Till in Music and Song
      by Philip C. Kolin
 “Dylan linked Till’s innocent blood to a Mississippi downpour—so much blood shed from the brutal beatings; Till’s killers ‘rolled his body down a gulf of bloody red rain.’”

52.  Memorial Observances
      by Catherine W. Bishir
 “For years I had wanted to visit Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, that battlefield where the direction of the nation’s history changed, the center of more than a century of memorialization. Yet, no amount of reading prepared me for its effect.”

53.  The Redemption of Atticus Finch
      by Marcus Jimison
“Joseph Crespino’s interpretation of To Kill a Mockingbird must be politically motivated, because it certainly is not based on the text.” 

54.  “Personal in My Memory”: The South in Popular Film
      by some of our favorite writers and filmmakers
with an introduction by Godfrey Cheshire
  “We have two imaginary kingdoms. One, ‘the South,’ exists primarily in song, oral traditions and folkways, native art and literature. The other, ‘Hollywood,’ creates mass-produced audiovisual entertainments for American and world audiences, and develops its own mythology.”
Alice Walker on Cold Mountain
Allan Gurganus on Sherman’s March
Randall Kenan on Ode to Billie Joe
Kenneth Turah on They Won’t Forget and I Was a Fugitive From a Chain Gang
Joe Flora on Sweet Bird of Youth
Andrew Garrison on Midnight Cowboy
Elizabeth Spencer on Intruder in the Dust and The Reivers 

55.  Martin Luther King Jr. Streets in the South: A New Landscape of Memory
      by Derek H. Alderman
“Martin Luther King Drives, Boulevards, and Avenues are important centers of African American identity, activity, and community—constituting what journalist Jonathan Tilove has called ‘Black America’s Main Street.'”

56.  Eat It to Save It: April McGreger in Conversation with Tradition
      by Whitney E. Brown
 “There is a deep, pulsing current of heritage and emotion when your hands are in the dirt, and that’s a feeling worth recapturing in the age of the iPhone.”

57.  South to Death
      by Earl Higgins
“Those who are given the power by law to exercise mercy become too intoxicated, overwhelmed by the power to end life; they can no longer grant the mercy advocated by the scriptural teachings they purport to follow. Matthew 5:7, for example, instructs, ‘Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.’”

58.  Southerners All?: New Northern Neighbors and the Changing Sense of Place
      by William W. Falk and Susan Webb
 “I tell the students: ‘Act like you’ve moved to a foreign country. Things, at times, will seem that odd to you. But in time you will learn to think of them as normal.’”

59.  “The Obituary of Nations”: Ethnic Cleansing, Memory, and the Origins of the Old South
      by James Taylor Carson
“The wilderness settlers thought they were entering was in fact a landscape created and managed by the First Peoples.”

60.  Is It True What They Sing About Dixie?
      by Stephen J. Whitfield
“‘Won’t-cha come with me to Alabammy,
Back to the arms of my dear ol’ Mammy,
Her cookin’s lousy and her hands are clammy,
But what the hell, it’s home.’”

61.  Economic Development and Globalization in South Carolina
      by Lacy K. Ford and R. Phillip Stone
“The boundary between the South and the world continues to melt.”

62.  Remembering Cherokee Removal in Civil Rights–Era Georgia
      by Andrew Denson
“Sanctifying a historic site almost always involves an effort to derive some kind of clear moral message from the events that have taken place there. At New Echota in the early 1960s, that interpretive effort focused on the story of Cherokee Removal, and the moral message was atonement.”

63.  Through a Purple (Green and Gold) Haze: New Orleans Mardi Gras in the American Imagination
      by Anthony J. Stanonis
“The New Orleans Times-Picayune argued it was ‘fortunate that being naked in other cities doesn’t produce the same je ne sais quoi as stripping on a Bourbon Street balcony. Otherwise the tourism revenue we count on from Carnival might remain locked in coffers not our own.'”

64.  Heroes of Hell Hole Swamp: Photographs of South Carolina Midwives by Hansel Mieth and W. Eugene Smith
      by Dolores Flamiano
featuring the original Life photographs
(Due to copyright restrictions, the original Life photos are available in the print edition only.)
Two mid-century LIFE photo essays reveal the power of editorial selection to lie–or reveal truth.

65.  Learning from the Long Civil Rights Movement’s First Generation: Virginia Foster Durr
      from interviews by M. Sue Thrasher, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, and Bob Hall
compiled and introduced by Sarah Thuesen
So I took each in turn, and they told me why they hated white folks. This took quite a while, because they were extremely articulate about why they hated white folks.”

66.  “An Oasis of Order”: The Citadel, the 1960s, and the Vietnam Antiwar Movement
      by Alex Macaulay
“Pat Conroy, a 1967 Citadel graduate, recounts the horrors of his freshman year in gruesome detail. In My Losing Season, Conroy describes the plebe system he endured as ‘mind-numbing, savage, unrelenting, and base.’”

67.  Hamlet Rides among the Seminoles
      by Robin O. Warren
“When William Forbes and his company of actors steamed out of Savannah in May 1840, they were about to enter the Second Seminole War. Before they had been in Florida for more than a full day, the actors were ambushed by real-life Indians, lost two of their number, and had their props and costumes sacked.”

68.  “Lord, Have Mercy on My Soul”: Sin, Salvation, and Southern Rock
      by Michael J. Butler
       “The band delighted in sharing their bottle of Jack Daniels with a chimpanzee.” 

69.  Teaching Southern Lit in Black and White
       by Michael Kreyling
“I had to stop. It wasn’t funny, and the bravura failed to lift any literary hearts. In this reading in this place, these words, whatever I might think about their literary merits, described white men on horseback with dogs hunting a defenseless black man on foot.”

70.  The Color of Music: Social Boundaries and Stereotypes in Southwest Louisiana French Music
      by Sara Le Menestrel
“One Cajun woman who grew up in the 1960s was convinced that the AM/FM options on her radio referred to the distinction between American Music and French Music.”