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  • Michael O’Brien1948–2015

This issue was going to press when we learned of the tragic, untimely death of Michael O’Brien, founding member of the Southern Cultures editorial board, and inspirational genius for the modern revival of scholarship on southern intellectual history. Michael spent most of his career at American universities before returning to his native England in 2002 as Professor of American Intellectual History at Cambridge University. He wrote or edited eleven books, most of them on antebellum southern thought, and founded the Southern Intellectual History Circle as a forum for this small but intensely challenging field. His writings attracted a glittering list of awards, especially his massive, two-volume magnum opus, Conjectures of Order: Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810–1860, which explored the ingenuity, erudition, and variety that southern intellectuals deployed as they struggled to think through their places in a world growing ever more critical.

We at Southern Cultures, and southern scholars generally, will always remember Michael for his brilliant insights and penetrating criticisms, unfailingly delivered with kindness, generosity, and wry, self-deprecating humor. His loss is a painful blow to everyone who takes the South seriously. [End Page 4]



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