Inspired by the Arkansas Review’s “What Is the Delta?” series of articles, Defining the Delta collects fifteen essays from scholars in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities to describe and define this important region.
Here are essays examining the Delta’s physical properties, boundaries, and climate from a geologist, archeologist, and environmental historian. The Delta is also viewed through the lens of the social sciences and humanities—historians, folklorists, and others studying the connection between the land and its people, in particular the importance of agriculture and the culture of the area, especially music, literature, and food.
Every turn of the page reveals another way of seeing the seven-state region that is bisected by and dependent on the Mississippi River, suggesting ultimately that there are myriad ways of looking at, and defining, the Delta.
Janelle M. Collins was general editor of Arkansas Review: A Journal of Delta Studies from 2009 to 2013. She is chair of the Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University, where she teaches courses in African American and multi-ethnic American literature.
“Janelle Collins has done a commendable job of pulling together this rich and diverse collection of essays offering seventeen different ways of conceptualizing the Delta, beginning with a geologist’s description of its formation six hundred million years ago and ending with a literary historian’s analysis of post-Katrina literature. While accessible enough to interest the general reader, the information gathered here will be invaluable to serious students of the Delta for years to come.”
“As an introduction not only to the delta but to multiple scholarly approaches, this book might be an ideal volume for undergraduates who need to recognize the many directions scholarship can take. It is surely an excellent introduction for anyone asking definitional and scholarly questions about the Mississippi Delta.”
—Ted Ownby, Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Winter 2016