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In our southern studies curriculum, we focus on new definitions of southern cultures that are historically responsible, ethically diverse, and forward-looking for all current and future southern residents. Those definitions—of music, art, food, literature, politics, identities, histories and cultures—are studied, created, debated, and applied from our location here at UNC, home of world-class southern, oral history, and digital archives, journals, faculty, students, and intellectual spaces into which all are invited.

Southern Studies Overview
Undergraduate Studies In Southern Studies
Graduate Studies In Southern Studies

Southern Studies Overview

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the world’s best-equipped institution to study the American South. Caro­lina’s scholars and research collections are unparalleled resources for the study of Southern history, folklore, literature, and arts. The University’s social scientists and technical experts offer informed visions for its future. UNC’S institutional resources on the South include the Southern Historical Collection the Southern Folklife Collec­tionthe Research Laboratories in Archaeology, the Odum Institute for Research in the Social Sciences, southern collections at UNC’s Ackland Museum of Art, and The Center for the Study of the American South (CSAS), which houses the Southern Oral History Program and the award-winning journal Southern Cultures. The Southern Historical Collection offers a number of visiting scholar grants.

American Studies students meet with Alabama artist Joe Minter (2009)
American Studies students meet with Alabama artist Joe Minter, 2009.

The Southern Studies program at Carolina also encourages students to take advantage of both local and global resources in the Triangle for study of the South. These resources include the annual Global American South Symposium, UNC’s Global Research Institute’s Program in Food, Agriculture and Sustainable Development (FASD), Triangle University Food Studies, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem. Southern cultural and historical institutions in the region also offer exciting opportunities for study, from the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh to the pottery centers of Seagrove and Jug Town to the Museum of the New South in Charlotte. The Triangle has rapidly developed as an important center for food studies, sustainable agriculture, health and nutrition, and food justice. Regional opportunities for study and practicum in these areas abound. Students are also encouraged to explore programs, internships, and resources of the Southern Foodways Alliance, an institute of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.

Competitive grants for summer graduate research on southern studies topics are available from CSAS. Competitive grants are available for summer undergraduate research and honors studies. Opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate student internships and fellowships exist in many campus and off-campus institutions, as well as regional organizations engaged with southern issues and policy.

Undergraduate Studies

The major concentration in Southern studies focuses critical attention on the history, society, culture, and expression of the American South with its regional, state, and local distinctiveness. It allows students to examine the American South from many disciplinary perspectives, including anthropology, art, architecture, communication studies, cultural tourism, ecology, environment, folklife, foodways, geography, history, journalism, language, law, literature, material culture, myth and manners, music, oral history, politics, public health, religion, values, and more.

food plate
Courtesy of Professor Ferris

The University of North Carolina’s longstanding intellectual and historical relationship to the state and to the entire American South offers students in the major concentration Southern studies unprecedented opportunity and entrée to professions such as teaching, business, library science, film, journalism, music, law, politics, arts administration, historical institutions, museums, archives, and preservation.

You may look through a list of undergraduate courses for this major. You can also look through the course offerings by year and complete course listings. Contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies with any questions.

Graduate Studies

The South’s vibrant diversity anchors our graduate curriculum. We examine its cultural expressions—music, food, art, literature, material culture, politics, religion, and more—and how such ideas circulate in local, global, and transnational communities and networks. We look directly at the tragic, powerful roles of racial oppression that shaped the South’s history and culture. We engage the challenges and opportunities in the intersections of racial diversity, class and gender difference, and sexuality accompanying the region’s dynamic future. Graduate students can study and create by engaging our world-class archives and with premiere writers and thinkers. We encourage the needs of research projects to inform the shape of each student’s writing, scholarship, and intellectual engagement.

Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats, Spring 2015.
Carolina Cooks, Carolina Eats, Spring 2015, Professors Marcie Cohen Ferris and Sharon Holland