Southern History across the Color Line, Second Edition

Second Edition

By Nell Irvin Painter

With a new preface by the author

262 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 3 halftones, notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6376-0
    Published: April 2021
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6375-3
    Published: April 2021
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-6377-7
    Published: February 2021
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-6157-3
    Published: February 2021

Gender and American Culture

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The color line, once all too solid in southern public life, still exists in the study of southern history. As distinguished historian Nell Irvin Painter notes, we often still write about the South as though people of different races occupied entirely different spheres. In truth, although blacks and whites were expected to remain in their assigned places in the southern social hierarchy throughout the nineteenth century and much of the twentieth century, their lives were thoroughly entangled.

In this powerful collection of pathbreaking essays, Painter reaches across the color line to examine how race, gender, class, and individual subjectivity shaped the lives of black and white women and men in the nineteenth- and twentieth-century South. She explores such themes as interracial sex, white supremacy, and the physical and psychological violence of slavery, using insights gleaned from psychology and feminist social science as well as social, cultural, and intellectual history. The book illustrates both the breadth of Painter’s interests and the originality of her intellectual contributions. This edition features refreshed essays and a new preface that sheds light on the development of Painter’s thought and our continued struggles with racism in the twenty-first century.

About the Author

Nell Irvin Painter is the Edwards Professor of American History Emerita at Princeton University and Madame Chairman of the MacDowell artists' residency. She is author or editor of ten books, including The History of White People, Old in Art School: A Memoir of Starting Over, and Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol.

For more information about Nell Irvin Painter, visit the Author Page.


“Demonstrate[s] excellence marked by the transgressive verve of [an] innovative and progressive scholar. . . . An extremely successful attempt to move with intellectual rigor and consistency toward a meaningful interpretation of a world mapped in blood by cruelty and violence.”--Southern Literary Journal

“One cannot help but applaud the appearance of this collection, which provides a fine introduction to the ideas of an important scholar.”--Journal of Southern History

“The theories, ideas, and analysis investigated in this text advance our understanding of nineteenth- and twentieth-century southern culture--both black and white--in unexpected, provocative, and compelling ways. . . . A highly original and radically ambitious book. This immensely important and insightful study underscores the need for new thinking about the scholarship of southern historiography that reaches beyond race. . . . A groundbreaking contribution and a rewarding addition to the field of American history, particularly southern historiography.”--North Carolina Historical Review

“Painter wields both a scalpel and an ax as she dissects multiple generations of southern-focused literature. . . . Compelling. . . . [Southern History across the Color Line] provides an insightful exploration into the historical factors that have led to an incomplete literature on the mutual impact of the color line in the American South. It deserves careful study by a wide range of scholars and students of southern history and race relations.”--Gulf South Historical Review

“Painter’s thoughtful collection is the result of a career spent in close examination of southern history. She demonstrates how that text can still reveal much, but only if we sharpen and enlarge our intellectual armamentarium.”--Florida Historical Quarterly

“Bold and innovative.”--Canadian Journal of History