Searching for Their Places: Women in the South across Four Centuries

Searching for Their Places: Women in the South across Four Centuries

Searching for Their Places: Women in the South across Four Centuries

Searching for Their Places: Women in the South across Four Centuries

Synopsis

Searching for Their Places is a collection inspired by the Fifth Southern Conference on Women's History. The esays in this volume are particularly astute in assessing the ways in which southern women have claimed power, or "searched for their places, " and suggests how southern women, individually and collectively, have sought to empower themselves. The essays, written by outstanding historians in this field, represent some of the freshest and most exciting scholarship about women in the South. They convincingly illustrate how the national experience looks different when southern women become the focus. The essayists use extensive analyses of primary source materials to examine a variety of issues that have confronted women in the South from the days of English colonialization through the civil rights struggles of the post-World War II era. The collection is well balanced in its periodization, with four essays on the antebellum years, one on the Civil War, three on the immediate postbellum era, and four based in the twentieth century. Studying women of every color, background, and station across the region and across four centuries, Searching for Their Places will appeal to the general reader and anyone interested in women's studies.

Excerpt

Stephanie Cole

In 1988, the Southern Association for Women Historians (SAWH) sponsored the first Southern Conference on Women's History, in an effort to encourage and recognize new work in southern women's history. in 2000, the organization sponsored its fifth such conference, at the University of Richmond. the essays that follow, chosen as some of the best papers inspired by the Richmond conference, demonstrate that SAWH's investment in developing the field over the years has proven worthwhile. After facilitating the publication of five essay collections (comprising over fifty essays based on original research), offering countless opportunities for oral presentations at triennial conferences, and promoting networks among scholars at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association and on the Internet, the sawh has certainly furthered research and writing on the lives of southern women, expanding our knowledge about the South and women's experiences there. That scholarship has also revised our understanding of the nation's past, as it has proven without a doubt that the national experience looks different when southern women become the focus. Indeed, recent research—including that found in this volume—has helped to reshape not only the field of southern women's history, but that of American history in general.

As the project of supporting work in southern women's history began, the editors of the first volume, Southern Women: Histories and Identities (1992), saw the potential for gains within regional, more than national, history. Taken as a whole, the essays in that volume would, they believed, “demonstrate the outlines of” a new “narrative history of southern women.” in tracing that new narrative, they noted that at the end of the eighteenth century authority for elite white women declined as the ideal of the “southern lady” emerged to constrain women's public actions. After emancipation, shifts in the terms of white domination once again reconfigured the public role white women could play and likewise created a place . . .

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