The American South: Its Stories, Music, and Art

From small farms to urban neighborhoods, from the region itself to the more distant worlds of the southern diaspora, we discover the stories, music, and art of the American South.

About The Course

This course explores the stories, music, and art of the American South and considers how they serve as a window on the region’s history and culture.  We will see how the region’s distinctive sense of place defines music and literature in each generation.  From small farms to urban neighborhoods, from the region itself to more distant worlds of the southern diaspora, stories, music, and art chronicle places and the people who live within them.

Our course explores the nature of oral tradition and how its study can provide a methodology for understanding Southern literature. We will discuss Southern artists and photographers and will show how the history and traditions of the South influences their work. We will consider the work of Southern Writers and discuss how they utilize specific stories, music, and art as a structure for literary forms such as the novel and the short story. Lastly, we look into the rich history of southern music and its roots in work chants, fife and drum, and one-strand on the wall musics.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What background is expected for learners in this class?
Some understanding of the history and geography of the American South will be helpful in appreciating the race, class and gender issues that influence the cultural markers we'll be studying. Students may wish to lightly research the Antebellum period, the Civil War, Jim Crow era, and Civil Rights movement to gain more historical context.

  • What resources will I need for this class?
The course is designed to be self-contained. There are additional readings and film clips that will offer a broader view of the topic, but none of these are required to complete the assignments.

  • What can I earn from completing this course?
You can earn a Verified Certificate by verifying your work with a risk-free, no obligation Signature Track trial. Payment for Signature Track can be made anytime until the week before the course ends — so you’ll be more certain that you’ll earn your Verified Certificate.

If you choose not to verify your work, you can still participate in the complete course.  While your final score will be noted on your course records page, this course will not offer a Statement of Accomplishment. 

Recommended Background

No background is required; all are welcome!