Monday, December 5


The first SFA-underwritten foodways class at the University of Mississippi concluded last week. As the students presented their research projects to Dr. Angela Jill Cooley, a post doctoral fellow here at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, SFA staffers watched and listened.

A sampling of what we heard is below. In the picture above, students present, nosh, and visit. Next semester, Dr. Cooley will teach an undergraduate class focused on historicizing the book and film editions of “The Help.”

Kate Kenwright
Undergraduate, Southern Studies
Documented syrup grinding at Eclectic, Alabama, and poured cane syrup for all. What was labor is now leisure, that was the theme of her presentation.

Roy Button
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
In northern Mississippi, he learned that small farms are increasing, so are large farms, but middle sized farms are being squeezed out. Southern foodways being redefined by new farmers and new ethnicities at markets like Liz Stagg’s market on ole Highway 7.

Susie Pennman
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
Brooks Shaw's Old Country Store in Jackson, Tennessee, is a possible inspiration for Cracker Barrel.
She studied narrative of the place. Interviewed Clark Shaw and his son Brooks Shaw. Clark's father, also Brooks, started a museum of country store memorabilia, added food to get people in the door

Amy Ulmer
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
Joe St Columbia of Helena, Arkansas, grew up in a family of Italian immigrants. He says that his family taught Mexicans to make spaghetti sauce and they taught his family to make tamales.

Kirsten Schofield
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
She’s studying performative culture in the South, and is especially interested in brand mascots like Paula Deen and Colonel Sanders. She wonders, how did a guy from Indiana become the quintessential Southerner? How did he perform Southerness?

Jordan Shoemaker,
Graduate Student, History
She’s studying the role of salt in the Civil War. Salt was so scarce that Southerners had to salvage salt from dirt of smokehouse floors. (She brought ham biscuits for all.)

Katherine Bailey
Undergraduate, Journalism
She studied “The Face of Restaurant” how various Mississippi restaurants present themselves, including Ajax, Volta, and, for good measure, Cracker Barrel, present themselves. She included a slideshow on how Cracker Barrel sources and restores its country gewgaws

Danielle Anderson
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
She studied Indian restaurants in Mississippi, and was able to locate only 4 in the whole state, which makes sense when you consider that Mississippi has only 3 million people, and ranks 49th in states with foreign born populations.

Jonathan Bowdler
Graduate student, History
While studying national identity and how it’s linked to memory through cookbooks he’s come to conclude that the South may be a culinary “nation” with a collective memory.

Patrick Weems
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
He studied a community garden project in the Baptist Town of Greenwood Mississippi, where a 17 year old named De’vante Williams is leading the charge.

Rob Cornelius
Undergraduate, English
Yokna Bottom Farms, the first Community Supported Agriculture initiative in Mississippi, was his focus. In addition to doing documentary work, he labored on the farm.

Keith McCall
Graduate Student, history
Salt was his subject of focus, approached through the WPA narratives. He learned that in times of scarcity, Southerners sometimes boiled floorboards, wrenched from smokehouses, in pots of beans to flavor them with salt.

Meghan Holmes
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
She read memoirs of white Southerners, looking at their relationship with black women in three books, including Killers of the Dream by Lillian Smith; From Southern Wrongs to Civil Rights by Sara Parsons; and Making of a Southerner by Katherine Du Pre Lumpkin.

Kelsie Ruff
Graduate Student, History
Using the Southern Living annual cookbook series, she looked at changes over time in concepts of the South, representative dishes, and other measure.

Camilla Akin,
Graduate Student, Southern Studies
Reading the works of Eugene Walter, a native of Mobile, Alabama, she concluded that, as an expatriate, food was a way for him to connect with his roots. She showed a video clip of Eugene singing an ode to cholesterol