Rethinking the South
Essays in Intellectual History

Michael O'Brien


"There is no question that O’Brien is far and away the best intellectual historian on southern subjects in the country."
—Bertram Wyatt-Brown

"Incisive. . . . The combination of revisionist history, felicitous writing, and dry humor makes this volume well worth reading."
Journal of American History

"A challenging work, bound to stir controversy, and worthy of the scrutiny of all serious students of the American South. Unusual for a collection of essays spanning fifteen years’ publication, this volume possesses a remarkable unity of theme and content. In ten perceptive chapters, the author confronts those historians who see little of lasting value in the South’s past literature, art, and scholarship. He argues with conviction that the textures of southern life cannot be fully comprehended without an appreciations of its intelligentsia."
North Carolina Historical Quarterly

More / Hide

Bringing together Michael O’Brien’s pathbreaking essays on the American South, this book examines the persistence and vitality of southern intellectual history from the early nineteenth century to the present day. At once a broad survey of southern thought and a meditation on the subject as an academic discipline, Rethinking the South deftly integrates social history, literary criticism, and historiography as it positions the South within the wider traditions of European and American culture.

In his thoughtful introduction and throughout the ten essays that follow, O'Brien stresses the tradition of Romanticism as a central theme, binding togethere figures as disparate as critic Hugh Legare, literary scholar Edwin Mims, poets Richard Henry Wilde and Allen Tate, and historians W. J. Cash and C. Vann Woodward.

First published as a collection in 1988, these essays confirm O’Brien’s position as a pioneer in establishing and defining the enterprise of southern intellectual history.

Page count: 288 pp.
Trim size: 6 x 9


List price: $29.95

buy button
View Shopping Cart

Michael O'Brien is Professor of American Intellectual History at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of Jesus College, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He was the longtime series editor of the Publications of the Southern Texts Society. O'Brien is the author or editor of several books on southern intellectual history, including the Bancroft Prize-winner Conjectures of Order, which was also a Nominated Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History.