In recent years the study of the literature and culture of the U.S. South has been reinvigorated by a wholesale reassessment of the region's place in the world. Drawing on the methodological tools of comparative cultural history, postcolonial and globalization theories, and indigenous, transnational, and global south studies, the "New Southern Studies" has reimagined both its objects of study and its fields of inquiry.
As a result, "Southernists" have begun to pay increasing attention to the itineraries of Southern culture: What are we to make of Faulkner's interest in Haiti? What can be said about Atlanta's emergence as an international industrial and cultural center? Such attention has rendered intelligible the global interests of Southern texts and occasioned a new critical emphasis on issues of empire, diaspora, immigration, cosmopolitanism, and cultural exchange.
The four short pieces included in this section are written by leading lights in the New Southern Studies. Their respective approaches to the texts of the [End Page 63] U.S. South are as diverse and as far-flung as the locations that they compass and constellate: the Mississippi Delta and Mauritania; Baghdad, Mexico City, and New Orleans; Atlanta and Sudan; Canada, Columbia, Cuba, and the Carolinas. Taken together, these pieces suggest a vibrant and emergent critical discourse, one that has the potential to unsettle the ways American Studies scholars (among others) think and write about the region and its relation to the world. [End Page 64]
Coleman Hutchison is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches courses in nineteenth-century U.S. literature and culture, bibliography and textual studies, and poetry and poetics. Coleman's essays have appeared in American Literary History, Comparative American Studies, The Emily Dickinson Journal, and PMLA. He is currently finishing a book on Confederate literary culture.