The University of North Carolina Press announces the creation of the Marcie Cohen Ferris and William R. Ferris Imprint for high-profile, general-interest books about the American South. Ferris & Ferris Books will be supported by a new multimillion-dollar endowment at the Press.
“The American South is the ideal canvas on which to create a better understanding of our nation and the world. These funds allow us to commission, acquire, and market books by the nation’s leading authors who share that vision but who require the type of financial support normally out of reach for a university press,” said John Sherer, the Spangler Family Director of UNC Press.
The inaugural book to be published under the imprint is Grace Elizabeth Hale’s Cool Town: How Athens, Georgia, Launched Alternative Music and Changed American Culture, due out in March 2020. Hale is Commonwealth Professor of American Studies and History at the University of Virginia and author of the acclaimed books Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890–1940 (Pantheon, 1998) and A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America (Oxford, 2011). Of Cool Town, popular culture journalist Michaelangelo Matos says Hale’s “clear-eyed, heart-full testament depicts an era so radiant it felt like it could live a million years.”
Three more books are under contract in the imprint: a major new reference history of the South edited by Pulitzer Prize finalist W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a look at barbecue in African American history and culture by James Beard Foundation Award–winner Adrian Miller, and a definitive history of Confederate monuments and the persistent battles over their removal by historian Karen L. Cox.
Brundage, the William Umstead Distinguished Professor of History at UNC–Chapel Hill, heads a roster of leading historians who will collectively reinterpret the South’s past based on the best current research about the region. This one-volume reference history is scheduled for publication in 2021. The Pulitzer Prize Board for 2018–19 called Brundage’s most recent book, Civilizing Torture: An American Tradition (Belknap, 2018), “a morally engaging investigation of torture that measures American ideals of democracy and equality against a dark, uncomfortable reality.”
Food historian Miller returns to UNC Press with his third book, tentatively titled Black Smoke: African American Adventures in Barbecue. In the book, expected in the second half of 2021, Miller will recover barbecue’s African American roots and showcase pitmasters, chefs, and restauranteurs who are carrying the fire forward into the present day. Miller’s Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time (UNC Press, 2013) was honored with a 2014 James Beard Foundation Award. His most recent book is The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas (UNC Press, 2017), which earned Miller a nomination for a 2018 NAACP Image Award.
Cox (professor of history, UNC-Charlotte), whose writing on issues of southern history and memory appears regularly in outlets such as the Washington Post, the New York Times, CNN, and Time, is one of the nation’s foremost experts on the history of and controversy surrounding Confederate monuments. Her previous books include Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South (UNC Press, 2017) and Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture (UNC Press, 2011). In 2019, she appeared in Henry Louis Gates’s PBS documentary Reconstruction: America after the Civil War and in the BBC production American History’s Biggest Fibs with British historian Lucy Worsley.
Bill and Marcie Cohen Ferris, the namesakes of the new imprint, have a long-running connection with the Press. Their collective work and interests in the South are as expansive and diverse as the region itself.
Marcie Cohen Ferris is professor emerita of American studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and past president of the board of directors of the Southern Foodways Alliance. The SFA recently honored her with its 2018 Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award. Marcie’s UNC Press publications include the James Beard Foundation Award nominee Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South (2005), The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region (2016), and Edible North Carolina (forthcoming).
Bill Ferris is professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also served until retirement as associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South. He previously served as chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and he is a two-time Grammy Award winner. Bill’s UNC Press publications include the Pulitzer Prize–nominated Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, coedited by Charles Reagan Wilson (1989); Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues (2009); The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 14: Folklife, coedited by Glenn Hinson (2012); The Storied South: Voices of Writers and Artists (2013); and The South in Color: A Visual Journal (2016).
The Press plans to publish two to three books annually under the Ferris & Ferris Books imprint.