I have incurred many personal debts while writing this book. In particular, I wish to thank Christine Stansell. Much that I have learned over the years about the challenges and rewards of history, I have learned from her. I was fortunate enough to stumble into her women's history class in the fall of my freshman year in college, and she has inspired me with her passion, commitment, and intellectual generosity ever since. I am particularly grateful for the time and care she devoted to reading the manuscript for this book; her support and advice were indispensable for bringing the project to fruition.
Several others have provided vital support and critical insight throughout this project. I wish to thank the members of my dissertation committee at Yale University, especially Nancy Cott and Glenda Gilmore. Their vision and guidance were indispensable as I ventured onto the then-unfamiliar terrain of the nineteenth-century South. Hazel Carby both inspired me and challenged me throughout my graduate school career.
Many persons, both at Yale and the University of Georgia, provided useful criticism and sound advice at different stages of this project. I give thanks to the members of my writing group in New Haven — Eve Weinbaum, Alexis Freeman, Rachel Wheeler, Rachel Roth, Barbara Blodgett, and especially Jane Levey. I am grateful to my colleagues at the University of Georgia, especially Douglas Northrop, Reinaldo Roman, Monica Chojnacka, and Michelle McClellan, for their help and support. Numerous commentators and fellow conference panelists contributed to the progress of the manuscript. The anonymous readers for the University of North Carolina Press helped to make this a much better book than it would otherwise have been. I would also like to thank the editorial staff at the Press, especially Mary Caviness, David Perry, and Mark Simpson-Vos, for their patience, skill, and commitment to this project.
My good friends Jennifer Hirsch, Michelle Stephens, Neely McNulty, Erik Fatemi, and Stephanie Andrews provided insight, a balanced perspective, and much-needed levity along the many years between the book's conception and completion. I have had the good fortune to claim Kio Stark as my close friend and confidante throughout my graduate school