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Books in this series.

The Ozarks has a past. It’s beginning to have a history—and a regional story that continues to materialize in a variety of scholarly studies. The Ozarks emerged as a definable, recognizable region in the early twentieth century. Like most human creations, the Ozarks as a distinct region of people is largely a social construct, one that most often (though not always) aligns with the physical place that geographers have designated the Ozark uplift or Ozark plateau. As socially constructed regions go, the Ozarks is still quite young. Only in the years between the two world wars did scholars, folklorists, and other writers begin to think and write about the Ozarks as a definable place and the Ozarkers as a distinct, regional subset of the American population. For decades the discourse on the Ozarks and its inhabitants was dominated by folklorists and travel writers, who tended to seek out and document only the anachronistic and romantic qualities of life in the region. The scant scholarship on the region most often focused on the physical characteristics of the plateau (studies by geographers, for example) or on the survival of archaic folkways and music (studies by folklorists and ethnomusicologists, for example.) The result was a region and people obscured by myth, romance, and nostalgia.

By the end of the twentieth century, there were few scholarly studies of the Ozarks in such fields as history, literature, religion, historical archaeology, anthropology, and sociology. The past two decades have witnessed the emergence of a corpus of studies that collectively have established a budding subfield in regional studies, in Ozarks Studies. These include published and unpublished works in a variety of disciplines. Historians such as Lynn Morrow and Linda Myers-Phinney (Shepherd of the Hills Country), Brooks Blevins (Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image; Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South), Kimberly Harper (White Man’s Heaven), Matthew Hernando (Faces Like Devils), and David Benac (Conflict in the Hills) have contributed to our understanding of the region’s past. Aaron Ketchell’s Holy Hills of the Ozarks (religious/American studies), Robert Cochran’s biography of Vance Randolph, and a bevy of recent works in regional historical archaeology (by James R. Wettstaed and Jamie Brandon, among others) have further added to our understanding of the Ozarks, past and present, in a variety of ways. While all of these works are grounded within the scholarship of a specific discipline, many of them consciously place the Ozarks and its people at the locus of scholarly debate, evincing a burgeoning Ozarks Studies movement and a growing recognition of it among scholars.

About the Series

The Ozarks Studies series acknowledges the awakening of a scholarly Ozarks studies movement—one that crosses disciplinary boundaries as it approaches regional study from a variety of vantage points—and positions the University of Arkansas Press as the publisher at the forefront of the movement. As the only university press headquartered within the Ozarks region and as a press with a solid background in the publication of books on the region—Rafferty’s The Ozarks, Land and Life, Morrow’s Shepherd of the Hills Country, Harper’s White Man’s Heaven, Sizemore’s Ozark Vernacular Houses, and many more—the University of Arkansas Press is ideally suited for the first series that will level a scholarly eye on the Ozarks and Ozarkers.

The editor invites the submission of proposals for scholarly, book-length manuscripts that expand our  understanding of the region and in the process contribute to broader disciplinary fields and dialogues. Though grounded in a comprehension of the region’s history, the multidisciplinary series also considers manuscripts in literature, religious studies, anthropology, historical archaeology, political science, and cultural geography, among other disciplines. We accept proposals for monographs, anthologies, edited collections of scholarly articles or essays, and edited manuscripts based on primary sources. Manuscripts should reflect a familiarity with previous scholarship on the region and its people and engage themes and interpretations relevant to Ozarks studies.

Until very recent times, serious studies of Ozark history and culture have been few and far between. Most of us have been content to let travel writers and folklorists portray the region as a place where life was simpler, the landscape remained unspoiled, and time stood still. While some of that description was true, much of it was not.

 

Now, finally, we can drink from a deep, clear, wellspring of Ozark reality instead of the snake oil that produced bucolic visions of the “good old days.” To force the scales from our nostalgic eyes, the University of Arkansas Press has launched its “Ozarks Studies Series” to publish new scholarship about the old Ozarks. Brooks Blevins, Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University, serves as the series editor, guaranteeing the works included will examine the region with objectivity and clarity.

 

—Susan Young, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Autumn 2017

About the Editor

Brooks Blevins is widely recognized as the foremost scholar of Ozarks history. The Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University, Blevins teaches a variety of Ozark-themed courses, from Ozarks history to literature of the Ozarks. He is the author of a number of books and articles on the history of the region, including Hill Folks: A History of Arkansas Ozarkers and Their Image (Chapel Hill, 2002) and Ghost of the Ozarks: Murder and Memory in the Upland South (Urbana, 2012.) He is also the author of the award-winning Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol’ Boys Defined a State (2009) and coeditor with Gene Hyde of John Quincy Wolf’s Life in the Leatherwoods (2000), both published by the University of Arkansas Press.

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