Digital Innovation Lab featured in the College of Arts and Sciences Video

The University’s College of Arts and Sciences has featured a video about the work of the Digital Innovation Lab on Digital Loray. Watch out for cameos from Post-doctoral Scholar and Historian In Residence at the Loray Mill, Julie Davis, Professor Robert Allen, Ph.D. Candidate Elijah Gaddis, undergraduate student, Karen Sieber, and Ph.D. students Mattea Sanders and Charlotte Fryar.

From the College of Arts and Sciences: “When Gastonia’s iconic Loray/Firestone mill was being redeveloped, UNC’s Digital Innovation Lab was on hand to help preserve and present the history of the mill and the people associated with it.

Digital Loray is the largest digital humanities project ever undertaken by the University, and comprises a digital and site-based public history project that documents and interprets the complex history of the mill and the surrounding village.”

Thanks to Kristen Chavez for documenting our work!

Five Answers from Ph.D. Candidate, M.E. Lasseter

Why did you decide to come to UNC’s American Studies department for your degree?

I came here from the University of Mississippi’s MA program in Southern Studies, and you can mount a pretty convincing argument that the formal study of the South (in a way we’d call interdisciplinary today) started here at UNC with Howard Odum and his merry band of regional sociologists. If you’re going to study the South, this is the place.

One of the most important factors in my decision to come here was the presence of the Folklore program as our colleagues here, which really enhances both the breadth and depth of my work. Folks like Glenn Hinson, Bill Ferris, and Patricia Sawin are always there to remind me why I do this work, and that the people I write about belong at the center of everything I do.

What has been your favorite class to TA for?

Can I say all of them? Or a top three? How about a top three? In no particular order: Shalom, Y’all: The Jewish Experience in the American South (Marcie Cohen Ferris), American Studies 101 (Joy Kasson), and Native North America (Dan Cobb).

These three courses in particular allowed me to work closely with Carolina’s undergraduates, and they also challenged me to work in areas outside my direct focus of study. And all of these courses have influenced the work I’m doing for my degree.

Give us the elevator pitch for your dissertation/thesis topic.

Many of us have this tendency to think about the South in terms of what and where it is, and what and where it is not. I challenge this! I challenge this by providing important examples and explanations of things that are and are not “southern,” including but not limited to:
– professional ice hockey in the South
– what happens when you read William Faulkner as America’s own nationalist fantasy literature (like Tolkien is Britain’s nationalist fantasy literature)
– blues collectors in the files of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, and what their experiences have to do with contemporary discourses on sovereignty
– the genealogy of Choco Pies, a Korean snack food based on Chattanooga’s own Moon Pies, and their relationship to a different North and South — the one on the Korean peninsula.

By looking at all this stuff, we’re going to go on a magical journey that shows us how to think about the South in a way that busts the binaries that tend to dominate thinking about the region — black/white, urban/rural, North/South, local/global, and so many others.

Most gratifying yet unexpected perk of coming to UNC or Chapel Hill?

I’m now much closer to my mom’s side of the family — they’re out in Wilson and Rocky Mount — and I’m picking up all kinds of gossip about my mom as a kid! And also eating much better barbecue than I’ve had the opportunity to eat in quite some time.

Define American Studies or Folkore in one sentence.

I’ll define both! American Studies and Folklore are about the study of what I like to call “stupid human tricks,” which are not stupid at all but instead make up the entire world we navigate and are evidence of human dignity and/or ingenuity, and presume that the choices we all make every day matter and are worthy of our study, engagement, critique, and respect.

I really like stupid human tricks, y’all. If anybody has any YouTube videos featuring people doing magnificent things — like inventing a pulley system to zipline a couch off a third-floor balcony — send them my way.

Allison Kinney (Folklore MA, 2015) in the Folklore & Education on Youth In Community Journal

Allison Kinney (Folklore MA, 2015) has an article in the Folklore and Education Journal, in the special issue on Youth in Community. The article is based on her thesis, “‘I Am Karen: Community Engaged Research As Education, A Model of Practice.” You can download the issue and read Allison’s article here. Congratulations, Allison!

First Colloquium Event: #NCfoodways Panel

Four graduate students in the Masters in Folklore program presented their work completed last spring in the first iteration of Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats, taught by Dr. Sharon P. Holland and Dr. Marcie Cohen Ferris. Their presentations combined their own historical research with the oral history projects completed by undergraduates in the class. Victoria Bouloubasis, Claire Cusick, Rachel Kirby, and Sol Weiner each presented their work on four (out of five) distinct food regions of North Carolina: the East, Piedmont, West, Coast, and Borderlands. Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats will continue their research in North Carolina foodways in Spring 2016.

carolina cooks carolina eats 2

Rachel Gelfand’s AHA paper reviewed by Notches, an LGBT history blog

In January 2015, Ph.D. Student Rachel Gelfand presented in New York City at the American Historical Association as part of the Promiscuous Interdisciplinarity Track. This conference within a conference was organized by the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender History (CLGBTH). Her session was reviewed by Notches, a peer-reviewed, collaborative history blog devoted to studying the history of sexuality. The panel’s discussed ranged from oral history to comedy in a discussion of intimacy, interviews, and queer spaces. You can read more about Rachel’s panel here. Great work, Rachel!

Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt Featured in the New York Times Sunday Review!

Dr. Elizabeth Engelhardt, the John Shelton Reed Professor of Southern Studies, has been featured in the New York Times Sunday Review! To find out with Dr. Engelhardt is reading, listening to, watching, following, and repairing (We mean that last one), check out the feature. We’re glad the New York Times thinks Dr. Engelhardt is as interesting as we do.


Just Released: Southern Things, Issue 3

The online journal “Southern Things” has just released Issue 3: Summer 2015. It features eight undergraduate essays written in Bernard L. Herman’s Spring 2015 course “Introduction to the American South: A Cultural Journey.” The essays were edited by graduate students Trista Reis Porter and Rachel C. Kirby. Visit to explore reflections on barns, cooters, a claw-foot bathtub, and more.

Cross Creek, Florida

Cross Creek, Florida

Speaker Series Starts With Stewart Varner’s ‘What the Digital Humanities Could Be’

Our Speaker Series inaugural event welcomed Steward Varner, Digital Scholarship Librarian and American Studies PhD (Emory, ’10), for a conversation on ‘What the Digital Humanities Could Be?’ You can check out the group notes for the event here and the slides for Varner’s presentation here.

Stewart Varner












Check out our other speakers series & colloquia events on our event page and follow #amstuncspeakers for tweets about our events!

Undergraduate Research: Ellen Saunders Duncan’s ‘Human Ecology of Honeybees’

Ellen Saunders Duncan is one of several American Studies undergraduate students to receive a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) from the Office of Undergraduate Research for Summer 2015. Duncan’s project, “The Human Ecology of Honeybees” is focused on documenting the narratives and work of beekeepers in North Carolina. With more beekeepers than any other state in the country, North Carolina exemplifies a practice that Duncan believes shows North Carolinians’ commitment to the land and sense of place, and serves as a balance between history and innovation. Over the summer, Duncan worked with beekeepers from a range of experiences to document their narratives through both oral history and photography. For her honors thesis, Duncan hopes to develop an interactive presentation of her research.

Congratulations on this huge accomplishment, Ellen! We’ve featured our other undergraduate SURF-grant recipients this week, including Katie Yelton’s ‘Mill Mamas‘ and Karen Seiber’s ‘Visualizing the Red Summer of 1919.’