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The Field of Honor
Essays on Southern Character and American Identity

Edited by John Mayfield and Todd Hagstette
Foreword by Edward L. Ayers

Current research on the history and evolution of moral standards and their role in Southern society

For more than thirty years, the study of honor has been fundamental to understanding Southern culture and history. Defined chiefly as reputation or public esteem, honor penetrated virtually every aspect of Southern ethics and behavior, including race, gender, law, education, religion, and violence. In The Field of Honor: Essays on Southern Character and American Identity, editors John Mayfield and Todd Hagstette bring together new research by twenty emerging and established scholars who study the varied practices and principles of honor in an American context, across an array of academic disciplines.

Following pathbreaking works by Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Dickson D. Bruce, and Edward L. Ayers, this collection notes that honor became a distinctive mark of Southern culture and something that—alongside slavery—set the South distinctly off from the rest of the United States. This anthology brings together the work of a variety of writers who collectively explore both honor's range and its limitations, revealing a South largely divided between the demands of honor and the challenges of an emerging market culture—one common to the United States at large. They do so by methodologically examining legal studies, market behaviors, gender, violence, and religious and literary expressions.

Honor emerges here as a tool used to negotiate modernity's challenges rather than as a rigid tradition and set of assumptions codified in unyielding rules and rhetoric. Some topics are traditional for the study of honor, some are new, but all lead us to the question of how the South is different from America writ large. The Field of Honor builds an essential bridge between two distinct definitions of Southern—and, by extension, American—character and identity.

John Mayfield is a professor of history at Samford University and is the author of three books, most recently Counterfeit Gentlemen: Manhood and Humor in the Old South. A graduate of Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University, he has taught at the University of Kentucky and the University of Baltimore and was a Ford Foundation Fellow.

Todd Hagstette is an assistant professor of English at University of South Carolina Aiken, former director of the Simms Initiatives for the South Caroliniana Library, and founding director of the Digital U.S. South Initiative for the University of South Carolina Institute for Southern Studies. He is the editor of Reading William Gilmore Simms: Essays of Introduction to the Author's Canon.




(2017) February
6 x 9
368 pages
ISBN 978-1-61117-728-2
hardcover, $54.99s

ISBN 978-1-61117-729-9
ebook, $54.99t
Jeffrey E. Anderson
Edward L. Ayers
Dickson D. Bruce Jr.
Emily S. Bruce
Matthew A. Byron
Edward R. Crowther
Christopher Michael Curtis
Brenda Faverty
Jeff Forret
Sarah E. Gardner
Todd Hagstette
Kathleen M. Hilliard
Bradley Johnson
Anna Koivusalo
Robert S. Levine
Lawrence T. McDonnell
John Mayfield
David Moltke-Hansen
Amanda R. Mushal
Timothy J. Williams

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