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College of Arts & Sciences
Institute for Southern Studies

Cotton: The Fabric of Our Lives?

Over the coming academic year, the Institute for Southern Studies will host a series of lectures, films, and exhibits that focus on the deep and abiding connection between cotton and Southern culture. Our participating scholars will address topics including the history of capitalism and cotton; enslaved life and labor in the Deep South; the environmental impacts of cotton cultivation; the processes that take cotton from raw to finished commodity; and many others. According Dr. Robert H. Brinkmeyer, ISS director, "I thought it would be exciting for the Institute to organize a yearly lecture series around an important issue related to the South. The more interdiscplinary the better. And what better way to start than with the topic of cotton, the plant that has had such a huge impact on the history and development of the American South and its culture. That impact, we believe, will become abundantly clear by the end of the series, as speakers from a number of disciplines explore a diverse variety of topics, from literature to art to history to foodways to mill village life." Below you will find a list of specific events, all of which are free and open to the public:

Dr. Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University

"Empire of Cotton: The Global Origins of Modern Capitalism"

Thursday, 24 September 2015


Booker T. Washington Auditorium, 1400 Wheat Street

Dr. James Giesen, Associate Professor of History, Mississippi State University

"Burying King Cotton: Environment and Culture in the Post-Cotton South"

Thursday, 15 October 2015


Sloan 104

Dr. Daina Ramey Berry, Associate Professor of History, University of Texas-Austin

"'Nothin' but de Cotton': Enslaved Life and Labor in the Deep South"

Thursday, 5 November 2015


Sloan 104

Professor Laura Kissel, Associate Professor of Media Arts, University of South Carolina

Cotton Road: A Supply Chain Journey (documentary)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


Booker T. Washington Auditorium

Dr. Houck Medford, Filmmaker & Cotton Farmer

Cotton Tale: A Grand Story About a Century Industry, a Century Farm, and a Century Family (documentary)

Tuesday, 15 February 2016


Capstone Hall Campus Room