Cobb, James C. 1947–
Cobb, James C. 1947–
(James Charles Cobb)
Born 1947. Education: University of Georgia, A.B., 1969, M.A., 1972, Ph.D., 1975.
Historian, educator, and writer. Loganville High School, Loganville, Georgia, social studies instructor, 1969-70; University of Georgia, Athens, instructor in history and teaching fellow in history, 1972-75, B. Phinizy Spalding Distinguished Professor in the History of the American South, 1997—, chairman of the history department, 1998-2001; University of Maryland, visiting assistant professor of history, 1975-77; University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, assistant professor, 1977-80, associate professor of history, 1980-81; University of Mississippi, University, associate professor, 1981-85, professor of history and southern studies, 1985-87, director of Southern Studies, 1981-87; University of Alabama, director of honors program and professor of history, 1987-89; University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Bernadotte Schmitt professor of history, 1989-97. Also advisory board member for H-Southern-Music.
Southern Historical Association (former president).
Andrew Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Aspen Institute for Humanistic Study, 1982; E. Merton Coulter Award, 1984, for best article published in the Georgia Historical Quarterly; Green-Ramsdell Awards, 1988-89 and 1990-91, for best article published in the Journal of Southern History; McClemore Prize, Mississippi Historical Society, 1992, for outstanding book in Mississippi history; Senior Visiting Mellon Scholar, Cambridge University, May, 1995; Georgia Author of the Year Award in History, Georgia Writers Association and Kennesaw State University, 2006, for The Brown Decision, Jim Crow, and Southern Identity. Fellowships include University of Northern Iowa, summer research fellowship, June-August, 1978, 1981; University of Mississippi, summer research fellowships, 1982 and 1985; and the National Endowment for the Humanities, fellowship for individual research, 1985-86; Phi Eta Sigma, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Kappa Phi.
The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936-1980, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge, LA), 1982, 2nd edition, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1993.
Industrialization and Southern Society, 1877-1984, University Press of Kentucky (Lexington, KY), 1984.
(Editor) The Mississippi Delta and the World: The Memoirs of David L. Cohn, Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA), 1995.
Georgia Odyssey, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1997.
Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South (essays), University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 1999.
The Brown Decision, Jim Crow, and Southern Identity, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2005.
(Editor, with William Stueck) Globalization and the American South, University of Georgia Press (Athens, GA), 2005.
Serves on the editorial boards of the "Southern Biography Series" of the Louisiana State University Press and Southern Cultures, both 1995—.
An expert on the interplay of economy, society, and culture in the American South, historian James C. Cobb is also the author of several books on these topics. In The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936-1980, Cobb traces the efforts of the southern states to industrialize over the half century following the Great Depression. Writing in the Journal of American History, David D. Lee commented: "Cobb deserves high praise for this study. Provocative and well written, it offers an historical perspective on current topics in balanced and judicious fashion." Gavin Wright noted in the Journal of Economic History: "It is rare to find a work of history which carries its coverage down within two years of its publication date; and rarer still to find that such a book is not mere journalism but a careful scholarly study."
Industrialization and Southern Society, 1877-1984 examines the industrialization of the southern states with a focus on the twentieth century. In the book, Cobb presents his theory that industrialization developed differently in the South as opposed to the North, where it opened up society. In the south, however, Cobb believes that industrialization served to strengthen the status quo, partly due to the South's inability to attract high-wage labor jobs. "Cobb's work is stimulating scholarship, and he has asked important questions," wrote American Historical Review contributor Donald Holley. Writing in the Journal of Southern History, Tom E. Terrill commented: "Readers will find Industrialization and Southern Society useful as a good place to begin to understand one of the most significant aspects of the American South."
Cobb served as editor, with Michael V. Namorato, of The New Deal and the South: Essays, which focuses on how the New Deal affected southern blacks, as well as the region's labor, politics, and agriculture. Holley, in the American Historical Review, commented that the authors "stress the limitations of the New Deal's accomplishments."
In The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, Cobb presents a detailed historical look at Mississippi Delta plantation life from the Antebellum period to modern times. In the process, the author closely examines the planters' dominance over plantation life until the 1990s, a dominance that kept the status quo strong in everyday life. Sydney Nathans, writing in the Journal of Southern History, referred to The Most Southern Place on Earth as a "vividly written, powerfully argued book." Nathans added: "Cobb's portrait of Delta planters is sharply critical but humanely intimate." Writing in Reviews in American History, Nan Elizabeth Woodruff commented: "His topics reveal the scope of the Delta's history, ranging from political and economic developments to chapters on the Blues and Mississippi writers. Combining archival work with the secondary literature, Cobb offers the first attempt to study the entire history of the Delta."
As editor of The Mississippi Delta and the World: The Memoirs of David L. Cohn, Cobb presents the memoir of the southern writer and essayist, a memoir that Cobb found in the Cohn collection at the University of Mississippi. The memoir begins in 1953, and its author reflects on the people in his life as well as his professional work. Martha H. Swain wrote in the Journal of Southern History that as editor "Cobb has imposed upon the somewhat discontinuous, sometimes obtuse, fifteen essays and has written an overview for each."
Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South is a series of essays by the author that focuses on how southern people and society have adjusted to the realities of the modern world. He explores topics such as the urbanization changes that occurred following World War II, the changes in literature and music, and evolving race relations. As noted by Nancy B. Turner, writing in the Library Journal, Cobb means his look at southern cultures to "serve as an ‘assault’ on the prevalent theories of the South as somewhat aberrant in its evolution." Pete Daniel, writing in the Journal of Southern History, summed up his review by noting: "As Cobb's well-written and stimulating book makes clear, by embracing both God and the Devil, southerners tangle and knot historical threads in ways that will continue to challenge historians." Southern Literary Journal contributor Sally Wolff wrote: "Cobb brings to his study a great and useful range of cultural history and wonderful detail."
Cobb continues his analyses of southern society and identity in his book Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity. Cobb focuses primarily on history, literature, and popular culture to analyze southern identity and explore the factors that make the south "Southern." Referring to Cobb as "perhaps our best historical interpreter of the South," Weekly Standard contributor Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., went on to declare, "This may be his best book." Yoder added: "Not only has he done his homework, he has reflected deeply, and the result is mature (as in good wine), mellow, stylish, and tasty."
Cobb is also the editor, with William Stueck, and contributor to Globalization and the American South. Cobb's contribution to the book "explains that newly opened markets, improved logistical systems, and high-speed communications allow for business competition on a global scale," as noted by David A. Davis in Southern Cultures. According to Davis, the various authors discuss issues such as "how globalization—the process of advancing international economic and cultural exchange—affects the South, a distinct region with a reputation, somewhat undeserved, for isolationism."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, June, 1987, Donald Holley, reviews of Industrialization and Southern Society, 1877-1984 and The New Deal and the South: Essays, p. 767.
Black Issues Book Review, May-June, 2006, Dara N. Byrne, review of Away Down South: A History of Southern Identity, p. 26.
Journal of American History, March, 1983, David D. Lee, review of The Selling of the South: The Southern Crusade for Industrial Development, 1936-1980, pp. 1030-1031.
Journal of Economic History, December, 1982, Gavin Wright, review of The Selling of the South, pp. 969-970.
Journal of Southern History, August, 1985, Tom E. Terrill, review of Industrialization and Southern Society, 1877-1984, pp. 456-458; May, 1994, Sydney Nathans, review of The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, pp. 381-383; November, 1996, Martha H. Swain, review of The Mississippi Delta and the World: The Memoirs of David L. Cohn, pp. 834-835; November, 2001, Pete Daniel, review of Redefining Southern Culture: Mind and Identity in the Modern South, p. 905.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Nancy B. Turner, review of Redefining Southern Culture, p. 123.
Mississippi Quarterly, winter, 1996, J.B. Smallwood, review of The Mississippi Delta and the World, p. 183; winter, 1999, Richard H. King, review of Redefining Southern Culture, p. 183.
Publishers Weekly, August 8, 2005, review of Away Down South, p. 228.
Reviews in American History, September, 1994, Nan Elizabeth Woodruff, review of The Most Southern Place on Earth, p. 449.
Southern Cultures, fall, 2005, David A. Davis, review of Globalization and the American South, p. 104.
Southern Literary Journal, spring, 2001, Sally Wolff, review of Redefining Southern Culture, p. 153.
Weekly Standard, October 31, 2005, Edwin M. Yoder, Jr., review of Away Down South, p. 37.
Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (November 19, 2006), brief profile of author.
Organization of American Historians Web site,http://www.oah.org/ (November 19, 2006), brief profile of author.