Acknowledgments
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323  Acknowledgments During the seven years that it took to research and write Beyond the Crossroads, I received a great deal of help from many different people and a handful of organizations . It gives me great pleasure to thank them here. Needless to say, I take full responsibility for this book’s failings, whatever they may be, and absolve all who gave so generously of their time, care, and wisdom. Much of the research was completed during a yearlong sabbatical in 2008–9, for which I thank not just the University of Mississippi, but my two academic homes there, the Department of English and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture (CSSC), and their respective (and warmly supportive) heads, Ivo Kamps and Ted Ownby. The College of Liberal Arts provided additional help with a summer research grant in 2012; a second sabbatical in the fall of 2015 gave me the chance to finish up. I am uniquely privileged, as a blues scholar, to work on a campus where the Blues Archive, a part of the Department of Archives and Special Collections at the J. D. Williams Library, is a three-­minute walk from my office. Greg Johnson, the blues archivist, has assisted me every step of the way, as have others on the archive staff. Humanities librarian Alex Watson not only fielded my occasional requests but demanded updates on the project every time we crossed paths at Uptown Coffee—an invaluable prod. I’m also grateful for the help I received from Debra McIntosh, college archivist at the J. B. Cain Archives of Mississippi Methodism at the Millsaps-­ Wilson Library of Millsaps College in Jackson, and from librarians Phillip Carter and Joanne Blue at the Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale. Special thanks to Todd Harvey at the Library of Congress, who tracked down and sent me a scan of Alan Lomax’s early interview with David Honeyboy Edwards. I was fortunate to have the chance to share work-­ in-­progress with my friends, peers, and students in various forums, including the Modern Language Association meetings in 2009 and 2013 and the Southern Studies Brown Bag series at the CSSC in 2009; Mary Hartwell Howorth was nice enough to make space for the latter presentation. I’m indebted to my dear friend, mentor, and inspiration Bill Ferris and his associates at the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC Chapel Hill for inviting me to their campus to give the James A. Hutchins lecture, “The Devil and the Blues,” in 2011. Thanks to Greg Hansen and the folks at the Delta Symposium at Arkansas State University in Jones- 324 Acknowledgments boro for giving me a chance to work out my ideas about Crossroads as keynote speaker in 2014. My former student Rolonda Brown, now the dean of academics at Coahoma Community College in Clarksdale, invited me to her campus so that I could share my research on that town’s civic history and the crossroads monument with community college faculty from across the state of Mississippi at the Lamplighter’s Conference that same year. Janelle Collins and Marcus Tribbett, editorial stewards of Arkansas Review, have my eternal gratitude for publishing an earlier version of chapter 1 as a pair of articles, “Ain’t No Burnin’ Hell: Southern Religion and the Devil’s Music” (41, no. 2 [August 2010]: 83–98) and “Heaven and Hell Parties: Ministers, Bluesmen, and Black Youth in the Mississippi Delta, 1920–1942” (41, no. 3 [Winter/December 2010]: 186–203), giving me early confirmation that I was on the right track. A portion of chapter 5 also appeared in Arkansas Review as “ ‘I Got a Big White Fella from Memphis Made a Deal with Me’: Black Men, White Boys, and the Anxieties of Blues Postmodernity in Walter Hill’s Crossroads” (46, no. 2 [Summer /August 2015]: 85–104). Chapter 2 first appeared in somewhat shorter form in Popular Music and Society as “Sold It to the Blues-­Devil: The Great Migration, Lost Generations, and the Perils of the Urban Dance Hall” (36, no. 5 [December 2013]: 615–36). Thanks to both publications for permission to reprint. Three senior scholars made particularly important contributions to this project, two of them more as critics than allies. Although my own interpretations diverge from theirs, I remain grateful for their stern and thorough interventions . David Evans, whose important scholarship on Robert Johnson, the devil, and guitars shows up in my bibliography, read an early version of this...


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