Intellectual Manhood

University, Self, and Society in the Antebellum South

By Timothy J. Williams

302 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 8 halftones, 1 map, 3 tables, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1839-5
    Published: March 2015
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-1840-1
    Published: March 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4477-4
    Published: March 2015

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In this in-depth and detailed history, Timothy J. Williams reveals that antebellum southern higher education did more than train future secessionists and proslavery ideologues. It also fostered a growing world of intellectualism flexible enough to marry the era’s middle-class value system to the honor-bound worldview of the southern gentry. By focusing on the students’ perspective and drawing from a rich trove of their letters, diaries, essays, speeches, and memoirs, Williams narrates the under examined story of education and manhood at the University of North Carolina, the nation’s first public university.

Every aspect of student life is considered, from the formal classroom and the vibrant curriculum of private literary societies to students’ personal relationships with each other, their families, young women, and college slaves. In each of these areas, Williams sheds new light on the cultural and intellectual history of young southern men, and in the process dispels commonly held misunderstandings of southern history. Williams's fresh perspective reveals that students of this era produced a distinctly southern form of intellectual masculinity and maturity that laid the foundation for the formulation of the post–Civil War South.

About the Author

Timothy J. Williams is assistant professor of history in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon.
For more information about Timothy J. Williams, visit the Author Page.



"A first-rate work of scholarship that employs a student-centered approach to consider such factors as race, gender, and class at a formative moment in higher education across the antebellum period."--Journal of American History

“A landmark study in the history of southern higher education, and one that will be of interest to historians of education, the South, sectionalism, and masculinity.”--American Historical Review

“A deeply researched and highly interesting contribution to the scholarship on education, gender, and intellectual culture in the antebellum South.”--The Journal of Southern History

“Adds fresh depth and new dimensions to the ongoing debate over sectional identity. . . . Marks a major breakthrough in understanding the connection between higher learning and regional consciousness.”--American Studies

“A composite portrait of student life in antebellum Chapel Hill.”--North Carolina Historical Review

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