Director of Southern Studies

Doug Thompson Doug Thompson, Associate Professor of History (PhD, Virginia, 2003): Dr. Thompson studies the history of southern religion. He joined the faculty at Mercer in 2001 as a Post-Doctoral Teaching Fellow in the Lily Endowment funded University Commons. He is the author of Richmond's Priests and Prophets: Race, Religion, and Social Change in the Civil Rights Era (Alabama, 2017) and  editor of The Journal of Southern Religion. He is currently writing a book about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the war in Vietnam.

Associate Directors of Southern Studies

David Davis David A. Davis, Associate Professor of English and Director of Fellowships and Scholarships (PhD, North Carolina, 2006): Dr. Davis studies modern southern literature and culture and chairs the Sidney Lanier prize committee. He is the author of World War I and Southern Modernism (Mississippi, 2017). He has published essays in African American Review, Mississippi Quarterly, Southern Literary Journal, Southern Quarterly, and several other journals. He edited Not Only War by Victor Daly (Virginia, 2010), Hard Times on the Southern Chain Gang by John L. Spivak (South Carolina 2012), and co-edited Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways with Tara Powell (Mississippi, 2014). He is currently writing a book about southern literature and sharecropping.

Sarah Gardner

Sarah Gardner, Professor of History (PhD, Emory, 1996): Dr. Gardner studies the intellectual and cultural history of the American South, specializing in the Civil War Era, print culture, and book history. She is the author of Blood and Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 (UNC Press, 2004); Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Southern Renaissance, 1920-1941 (Cambridge University Press, 2017); and numerous essays in edited collections. She is co-editor of Voices of the American South (Longmans, 2004), and the forthcoming collection, Reassessing the South in the 1930s. She is currently finishing on a new project, titled  “‘A New Glass to See All our Old Things Through;’ Reading during the American Civil War,” as well as  working on a co-edited volume, “The Lost Lectures of C. Vann Woodward.” Dr. Gardner was founding director of the Spencer B. King, Jr., Center for Southern Studies.

Affiliated Southern Studies Faculty

Chester FontenotChester J. Fontenot, Jr., Baptist Professor of English and Director of Africana Studies (PhD, UC-Irvine, 1975): Dr. Fontenot is the author or editor of four books, including two works in the influential series, Studies in Black American Literature, and the first book-length study of racial theorist Frantz Fanon. Also an ordained Baptist minister, Dr. Fontenot has worked extensively with black gangs and is currently writing two books growing out of those experiences, Gangs, Gods, and Gospels: The Appeal of African-American Street Gangs for Youths and Why Stand Ye Gazing: A Critique of African-American Christianity, 1845-1996. Dr. Fontenot was a founding member and first chair of the Modern Language Association African-American Literature Section and editor of the Black American Literature Forum.

Chris GrantChris Grant, Associate Professor of Political Science (PhD, Georgia, 2000): Dr. Grant studies state politics and policy with a special emphasis on the South and Georgia in particular. In 2003 he authored a history of the Georgia General Assembly entitled Our Arc of Constancy that the Georgia Humanities Council distributed in schools and libraries across the state. He has also published several research articles on political behavior in the American South. His most recent research comparatively examines race and voting trends in several southern cities. He was a Fulbright Scholar to Moldova in 2006 and also served on the Washington staff of U.S. Senator Max Cleland in 2000.

Matt HarperMatt Harper, Assistant Professor of History and Africana Studies (PhD, UNC Chapel Hill, 2009): Dr. Harper studies slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World, with an emphasis on black religion and politics. He is the author of The End of Days: African American Religion and Politics in the Age of Emancipation. His next project turns to the Baptist War, a massive slave uprising led by a black Baptist preacher in Jamaica in 1831-32. 

Andrew SilverAndrew Silver, Page Morton Hunter Professor of English (PhD, Emory, 1997): Dr Silver studies 19th-century American Literature, southern literature, religion and literature, drama, and Russian literature. He has written two plays, Combustible/Burn and The Disciples, and he is the author of Minstrelsy and Murder: The Crisis of Southern Humor, 1830-1930. He was selected as Georgia's Professor of the Year for 2003.