In this thoughtful, sophisticated book, John B. Boles and Bethany L. Johnson piece together the intricate story of historian C. Vann Woodward’s 1951 masterpiece, Origins of the New South, 1877–1913, published as Volume IX of LSU Press’s venerable series A History of the South. Sixteen reviews and articles by prominent southern historians of the past fifty years here offer close consideration of the creation, reception, and enduring influence of that classic work of history. It is rare for an academic book to dominate its field half a century later as Woodward’s Origins does southern history. Although its explanations are not accepted by all, the volume remains the starting point for every work examining the South in the era between Reconstruction and World War I. In writing Origins, Woodward deliberately set out to subvert much of the historical orthodoxy he had been taught during the 1930s, and he expected to be lambasted. But the revisionist movement was already afoot among white southern historians by 1951 and the book was hailed. Woodward’s work had an enormous interpretative impact on the historical academy and encapsulated the new trend of historiography of the American South, an approach that guided both black and white scholars through the civil rights movement and beyond. This easily accessible collection comprises four reviews of Origins from 1952 to 1978; “Origin of Origins,” a chapter from Woodward’s 1986 book Thinking Back: The Perils of Writing History that explains and reconsiders the context in which Origins was written; five articles from a fiftieth anniversary retrospective symposium on Origins; and three commentaries presented at the symposium and here published for the first time. A combination of trenchant commentary and recent reflections on Woodward’s seminal study along with insight into Woodward as a teacher and scholar, Fifty Years Later in effect traces the creation and development of the modern field of southern history.
|Author||John B. Boles|