Tuesday, November 12, 2019
Southern Historical Association announces C. Vann Woodward Award Winner for 2019
Athens, GA: The Southern Historical Association (SHA) is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 C. Vann Woodward Dissertation Prize: Owen Hyman, author of "The Cut and The Color Line: An Environmental History of Jim Crow in the Deep South’s Forests,” written under the direction of James C. Giesen at Mississippi State University.
Last year, Jason Hauser, Mississippi State University, won the 2018 Woodward Award for his dissertation entitled "Southern Heat," a consideration of the idea of heat in the south and how it was instrumental in a series of southern contexts.
This is only the second time that dissertations from the same university have won the award in back to back years. It firmly cements Mississippi State University as the place to be for the study of southern history and environmental history.
Established in 2000, the Woodward Award is given annually to recognize the best dissertation in Southern history defended in the previous calendar year. The prize consists of a $3,000 stipend provided by the Woodward Fund, a generous bequest left to the SHA by C. Vann Woodward.
Hyman’s volume explores the long history of segregation and resistance in the Deep South through a focused examination of the Piney Woods region of the southern Gulf Coast. As the committee notes in making their determination, “Hyman’s innovative use of environmental history sustains a powerful narrative of African Americans using their knowledge of the land and ecology to resist the Jim Crow.” Segregation, Hyman argues, was not just a problem of psychology and prejudice, but a system of oppression that originated in the economic exploitation of a particular landscape, where human action and natural forces worked in
tandem to shape and reshape the power structures of Jim Crow. “Hyman’s innovative methodology, exhaustive research, and beautiful prose,” the committee notes, “make 'The Cut and The Color Line’ a worthy winner of the C. Vann Woodward Prize.”
About the SHA: The Southern Historical Association was organized on November 2, 1934 and charged with promoting an "investigative rather than a memorial approach" to southern history. Its objectives are the promotion of interest and research in southern history, the collection and preservation of the South's historical records, and the encouragement of state and local historical societies in the South. As a secondary purpose the Association fosters the teaching and study of all areas of history in the South. The Association holds an annual meeting, usually in the first or second week of November, and publishes The Journal of Southern History.
About C. Vann Woodward: Comer Vann Woodward is widely regarded as one of the most influential historians of his generation. Martin Luther King Jr. called his Strange Career of Jim Crow (1955) "the historical bible of the Civil Rights Movement.” Woodward won the Pulitzer Prize for History in 1982 for Mary Chesnut’s Civil War.