Jane Sidey, Park Tudor English Teacher
Sven Dubie, Park Tudor Social Studies Teacher
Class: June 5-16, 2017 (Mon-Fri, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.)
Travel: June 17-24, 2017
Southern Studies, an accredited, cross-curricular, team-taught elective, is back for its third year. Students in this seminar engage in a philosophical enquiry of how environment and place work to shape identity and culture. They are challenged to look at the South through the lenses of history, literature, music, art and architecture, and foodways. As in previous years, students spend two weeks of classroom study followed by one week travelling to several Southern states in order to connect experientially with the physical and cultural geography of the South.
This summer, we plan to spend some time in those states often referred to as “the Deep South,” whose residents proudly see themselves as “true Southerners.” We will focus our attention on the rise of King Cotton and the expansion and explosion of the domestic slave trade, the outcome of the Civil War and the tumultuous period known as Reconstruction, the implementation of Jim Crow segregation, and the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, all this history will be complemented by some of the most inventive and inspiring literature ever produced in the United States, a healthy dose of the Delta Blues, an introduction to some iconic Southern photographers, and finally, lots of really delicious food. Just a few highlights are likely to include visits to Beale Street in Memphis, the Whitney Plantation in Louisiana, the French Quarter in New Orleans, Kelly Park and Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, and Harper Lee’s hometown. We’ll retrace the Selma to Montgomery march and mingle with the ghosts of Union and Confederate troops in Shiloh, Tennessee.
In keeping with the interdisciplinary and experiential nature of the class, artistic activity, broadly speaking, is an important area of focus. At the heart of Southern Studies lies the essential question of how we reconcile the profoundly different visions of writers, musicians, chefs, artists and historians who all claim to depict and explain the South. Consequently, students should expect to grapple with the paradoxical nature of Southern identity by engaging in a number of hands-on classroom activities. By visiting the cities and places that give rise to these diverse and complex interpretations of what it means to be Southern, our students are made visually aware of the living dichotomies of the past and present, Old South and New South, urban renewal and rural tradition, and homogeneity and diversity.
The class is reading and writing intensive and students also complete an interdisciplinary project - such as a photo journal, travelogue, or writing portfolio - as their final assessment.
Tentative Itinerary and Places of Interest:
- Shiloh, TN: Shiloh National Military Park
- Memphis, TN: National Civil Rights Museum, Beale Street, Stax Records, Graceland
- Clarksdale, MS: Delta Blues Museum
- Natchez, MS: Melrose, Natchez Trace Parkway, Emerald Mound
- New Orleans, LA: French Quarter, Whitney Plantation, Ogden Museum, Oak Alley Plantation Southern Food and Beverage Museum, Contemporary Arts Center, Amistad Research Center
- Montgomery, AL: Bryan Stevenson’s Equity and Justice Initiative, Southern Poverty Law Center, Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, Rosa Parks Museum and Library
- Birmingham, AL: Sloss Furnaces, Vulcan Statue, Kelly Ingram Park, 16th Street Baptist Church
Dates and Cost:
The class meets for three hours every weekday from June 5th to June 16th with travel taking place during the third week (Saturday June 17th - Saturday June 24th). Cost for the class and the trip will be $1,250 (includes tuition, travel expenses, hotel accommodations, breakfast and dinner - students will need pocket money to purchase lunch and for incidental expenses).
Some sites to explore:
Shiloh Military Park
National Civil Rights Museum TN
Stax Records TN
Delta Blues Museum MS
Whitney Plantation LA
Ogden Museum of Southern Art LA
Amistad Research Center LA
Dexter Church AL
Equity and Justice Initiative AL
Sloss Furnaces AL