Scholars Highlight Continuing Relevance of C. Vann Woodward’s Landmark Work

With sharp analysis and engaging prose, these essays deftly illustrate the enduring power of Woodward’s ideas. Representing the fields of history, English, and political science, the authors use Woodward’s original essays to offer fresh insights into the enduring question of southern identity as well as contemporary political issues.”—Kari Frederickson, author of The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932–1968

More than fifty years after its initial publication, C. Vann Woodward’s landmark work, The Burden of Southern History, remains an essential text on the southern past. Today, a “southern burden” still exists, but its shape and impact on southerners and the world varies dramatically from the one envisioned by Woodward. Recasting Woodward’s ideas on the contemporary South, the contributors to The Ongoing Burden of Southern History highlight the relevance of his scholarship for the twenty-first-century reader and student.

This interdisciplinary retrospective tackles questions of equality, white southern identity, the political legacy of Reconstruction, the heritage of Populism, and the place of the South within the nation, along with many others. From Woodward’s essays on populism and irony, historians find new insight into the burgeoning Tea Party, while they also shed light on the contemporary legacy of the redeemer Democrats. Using up-to-date election data, scholars locate a “shrinking” southern identity and point to the accomplishments of the recent influx of African American voters and political candidates. This penetrating analysis reinterprets Woodward’s classic for a new generation of readers interested in the modern South.

Angie Maxwell is the Diane D. Blair Professor of Southern Studies and an assistant professor of political science at the University of Arkansas. Her research has appeared in The Southern Quarterly, Journal of Black Studies, and Presidential Studies Quarterly.

Todd Shields is a professor of political science and director of the Diane D. Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society at the University of Arkansas. His work has appeared in The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, and Presidential Studies Quarterly.

Jeannie Whayne is a professor of history at the University of Arkansas and author or editor of ten books, including Delta Empire: Lee Wilson and the Transformation of Southern Agriculture, winner of the J. G. Ragsdale Book Award.