James C. Giesen
Associate Professor and Grisham Master Teacher
Agricultural, Rural, Environmental History, African American, U.S. South
- Ph.D., University of Georgia, 2004
- M.A., University of North Carolina, Greensboro, 1998
- B.A., DePauw University, 1995
My interests are the agricultural, rural, and environmental histories of the U.S., with a particular focus on the South in the twentieth century. I serve as the executive secretary of the Agricultural History Society and editor of the University of Georgia Press series Environmental History and the American South.
Books & Refereed Articles
- Food and Eating in America: A Documentary Reader, edited with Bryant Simon (Wiley Blackwell, 2018).
- Boll Weevil Blues: Cotton, Myth, and Power in the American South (University of Chicago Press, 2011). Winner of the 2012 Deep South Book Prize and Winner of the 2013 Francis Butler Simkins Award from the Southern Historical Association for the best first book on Southern History.
- “The View From Rose Hill: Environmental, Architectural, and Cultural Recovery on a Piedmont Landscape,” Buildings & Landscapes 27, 2 (Fall 2020)
- “This Fear of Death May Be Killing Us: Agricultural History Considers Its Demise,” Agricultural History 93, no. 2 (Spring 2019): 341-357
- With Mark Hersey, “The South and the Natural Environment,” The New South, Interpreting American History series, James Humphreys, ed. (Kent State University Press, 2018).
- “Reading Stone and Steel: Statues as Primary Sources for Agricultural History” Agricultural History 89, no. 3 (Summer 2015): 358-370, co-authored with Anne E. Marshall
- "'The Herald of Prosperity:' Tracing the Boll Weevil Myth in Alabama," Agricultural History V. 85, no. 1 (Winter 2011). Winner of the 2012 Vernon Carstensen Award from the Agricultural History Society.
- James C. Giesen and Mark Hersey, "The New Environmental Politics and Its Antecedents: Lessons from the Early Twentieth Century," The Historian 72, no. 2 (Summer 2010): 271-298.
- "'The Truth about the Boll Weevil': The Nature of Planter Power in the Mississippi Delta," Environmental History 14, no. 4 (October 2009): 683-704. Winner of the 2011 Jack Temple Kirby Prize from the Southern Historical Association.
- "Creating 'Nate Shaw': The Making and Re-Making of All God's Dangers," in Richard Godden and Martin Crawford, ed., Reading Southern Poverty Between the Wars, (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2006)
Selected Recent Presentations
- “Ain’t That America? History and Culture in the Country,” Mississippi Library Commission, invited talk (delivered virtually), June 5, 2020
- “Farming in Mississippi: A Brief History,” invited presentation for Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration Series, Mississippi State, September 6, 2017
- “The View from Rose Hill: Landscape and Memory in the Piedmont,” Southern Forum on Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History, Rice University, April 28, 2017
- “Boll Weevil Blues: Cotton, Myth, and Power in Mississippi,” invited presentation to Tupelo Public Library for Mississippi Humanities Council, December 6, 2016
- “Burying King Cotton: Environment and Culture in the Post-Cotton South,” invited presentation to the 5th Annual Cotton Kingdom/Sweat Equity Symposium, Mississippi Valley State University, November, 2016
- “The Future of Southern History,” invited panelist for closing plenary, Southern Historical Association Annual Meeting, St. Pete Beach, Florida, November, 2016
- “Burying King Cotton: Environment and Culture in the Post-Cotton South,” University of South Carolina “Year of Cotton” program, invited keynote. October 15, 2015
- “Ain’t That America? History and Culture in the Country,” DePauw University Horizon Lecture, Invited, October 27, 2014
- “Of Rats and Men: Environments of Poverty and the Mississippi Extension Service,” Smith-Lever Act Centennial Conference, West Virginia University, September 25, 2014
- “Killing King Cotton: Race, Memory, and Spectacle in Memphis,” Invited Keynote, Southern Forum on Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental History, Rollins College,
- March 28, 2014“Soil as Time Machine: The Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory,” Invited Talk with Daniel d.B. Richter, History Center/SEOE, University of South Carolina, April 23, 2014.
- “Alabama’s Got the Boll Weevil Blues,” Invited lecture, Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama, December 19, 2013.
- “The King is Dead: The Culture of Cotton in Memphis, Tennessee,” European Rural History Conference, Bern, Switzerland, August 19-22, 2013.
Honors & Awards
- John Grisham Master Teacher (2018-), university’s highest teaching award, Mississippi State University
- Graduate Mentor of the Year (2016-17), university-wide award given to best mentor of graduate students, Mississippi State University
- Mississippi History Now Award (2015) for best public history article of the year published on Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi History Now page
- William Parrish Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award (2014-15). Given by the graduate student organization of the Mississippi State History Department.
- Francis B. Simkins Award (2013). Given by the Southern Historical Association biennially for the best book first book on southern history.
- Beverly B. & Gordon W. Gulmon Eminent Scholar Award. Given by MSU College of Arts & Sciences to top humanities researcher. (Awarded fall 2012, carries designation through spring 2015.)
- Deep South Book Prize (2012). Awarded biennially by the Summersell Center for the Study of the South at the University of Alabama, for Boll Weevil Blues.
- Vernon Carstensen Memorial Award (2011). Awarded by the Agricultural History Society for the best article in a volume of Agricultural History, for 2011 article.
- Jack Temple Kirby Prize (2011). Awarded by the Southern Historical Association for the best article on southern agricultural or environmental history over a two-year period, for 2009 Environmental History article.
- Carolyn S. Cobb Estate Faculty Award for excellence in research and teaching, 2011.
- Will Clark Faculty Award for excellence in research and teaching, 2010.
- Advisory Committee, Mississippi Digital Newspaper Project, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2013-Present.
- Jack Temple Kirby Prize Committee, Southern Historical Association, begins 2014.
- National Science Foundation. Critical Zone Observatory (CZO) Grant. Awarded January 2014. Total Award: $5 million over 5 years. Individual funding share $167,051.
- United States Agricultural Information Network. Agricultural Network Information Center Digitization Grant. Co-PI. 2013. Award $3,125.
- Core Faculty, Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment in the South (CHASES), 2014-Present.
- Founding Director, The Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment in the South (CHASES), 2011-2014
- Will Clark/State Pride Faculty Award for excellence in research and teaching, 2010
- Executive Secretary, Agricultural History Society, July 2010-2019
- Membership Committee, Southern Historical Association, 2009-10
- HI 8953: US, 1877-1945
- HI 8883: US Agricultural History, 1500-2000 (Seminar)
- HI 8833 Southern History Seminar
- HI 4193/6193: U.S. Environmental History, 1500-2000
- HI 4313/6313: The New South
- HI 3333: Mississippi History
- HI 1073: Modern U.S. History
- Hi 4990: History of Now
- Hi 4990: Food and Eating in America