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south a scholarly journal
University of North Carolina Press
Peer reviewed
Reviewed by: Cheryl LaGuardia, Research Librarian, Widener Library, Harvard University

In Fall 2015, the journal formerly known as the Southern Literary Journal moved from English and Comparative Literature to American Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, with Sharon P. Holland becoming the editor of the new journal, whose name became south. The focus of the journal changed at the same time, from literary to interdisciplinary content, and its stated goal is to “encourage global and hemispheric comparative scholarship linking the American South to other Souths… envision[ing] a journal that thinks of the entity called “the south” in circum-Gulfic terms, from the bottom up, rather than from the top down.” [from the website] south is published biannually, with a new issue appearing each Fall and Spring.

The journal is published in print, but it’s necessary to go to the web site to find all the content available for south. At you’ll find the tables of contents of each issue (so far the Editor’s Note for each is the only content from the print available online), a Reviews section that doesn’t actually contain any reviews, but rather this statement about reviews: “The ethos of the book review section of south is a little different than conventional journals’: first, reviews are published online, not in the print version. The reviews are substantially shorter (<1k words) and accessible through our website for free. It’s our position that the reviews should be as democratic as possible—available to all scholars and students of American studies—and should answer the basic questions: “What are we reading? What recent books are valuable to the field of southern studies, broadly defined? How might we assess the work being done?” Our goal is for the reviews to be published quarterly, and they will be announced through social media, especially Twitter”; a Thoughts section, where, paradoxically the reviews actually appear, along with What We’re Reading Now; a Talk section, which so far offers one interview with the poet Fred Moten, who wrote a poem for the first issue of south, focused on the word “deep”; and a Masthead where can be found the editorial staff and editorial board, as well as a blurb about the Department of American Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill (including a description of the program and a list of the department’s faculty). It's not clear why this is on the journal's masthead.

Given the statement about reviews and their appearing online (“It’s our position that the reviews should be as democratic as possible—available to all scholars and students of American studies”) the first question that comes to my mind is: why isn’t this an open access, wholly online journal? That would be as democratic as possible.

To give you an idea of the scope of the new south, here’s the TOC of the latest available issue, vol. xlix (they’re continuing the volume numbering on from Southern Literary Journal) fall 2016: no. 3: “Editor’s Note: Holding Pattern,” “Re-Imagining Slavery in the Hip-Hop Imagination,” “Declining Misery: Rural Florida’s Hmong and Korean Farmers,” “Taste as Emotion: The Synesthetic Body in Monique Truong’s Bitter in the Mouth,” “I’d sing You a Song if I Could Sing”: Art and Artifice in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby,” “Not Real Good at Modern Life: Appalachian Pentecostals in the Works of Lee Smith,” “Fantasy and Haiti’s Erasure in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!,” and “Laying Down the Rails: Sacred and Secular Groundwork in Zora Neale Hurston’s Jonah’s Gourd Vine and King Vidor’s Hallelujah.” The varying content, ranging from academic literary analysis to social science interviews and case studies, provides some interesting material, but also makes it hard to see the journal as a cohesive whole.
Not an essential acquisition for libraries in its present incarnation.
20 Sep 2017
Interested in contributing to an upcoming Magazines for Libraries™ Update? Contact Cheryl LaGuardia.

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