CFP: Southern Cultures issue: The Sonic South

Katharine Henry's picture

Call for Papers

Southern Cultures: The Sonic South

Guest Editor: Regina N. Bradley (Kennesaw State University)


Southern Cultures, the award-winning, peer-reviewed quarterly from UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South, encourages submissions from scholars, writers, and artists for a special issue, the Sonic South, to be published Winter 2021. We will accept submissions for this issue through February 22, 2021, at .


Sound provides a dynamic lens into the South’s layered complexities, offering a provocative framework for engaging the racial, gendered, and socio-historical identities of the region. Southern sounds are musical and nonmusical: the thrum of a subwoofer rattling the trunk of a big body car, stringed harmonies of chirping cicadas and crickets in the heat of a summer night, the laughter of people talking trash at a cookout, the quiet of a felled Confederate monument, the wail of grief at a funeral, volatile protest at a political rally. Noise, harmony, resonance, release, or reverberation. Amplified or absent, idiosyncratic or symphonic, natural or mechanical. Sound is cyclical and multivalent, shaping history and place (and southernness) in subtle, complicated, even speculative ways.


For the Sonic South, we seek work that uses sound to mine southern experiences existing outside academic, literary, and cultural canons; to break up the monotony of stereotypical, essentializing, and (a)historicized southernness; and to create new genealogies and archives. What hidden and visible sonic narratives disrupt our expectations of southern identity? What happens when people use sound to conjure up freedom and the promises of the future? How can we employ noise (or the lack thereof) to speak to underrepresented perspectives, communities, and experiences? How does sound communicate a deeper understanding of the past? Where, how, and among whom do soundscapes converge or diverge? How are soundscapes defined, determined, created, bounded?


Sound is capable of disrupting, dispelling, and dismantling canonized ideas and narratives. We are excited to read work that centers sound and understands a sonic South as an experimental and underexamined space. Just as the South is not a monolith, the Sonic South is equally unbound, multi-generational, and robust, a social-cultural landscape (and soundscape) where multiple vantage points and experiences co-exist. Submissions can explore any topic or theme, and we welcome explorations of the region in the forms Southern Cultures publishes: scholarly articles, memoir, interviews, surveys, photo essays, and shorter feature essays.


Possible topics and questions to explore might include (but are not limited to):


  • How sound blurs boundaries between ideas of the “real” and “imagined”
  • Sound as a pedagogical tool to understand southern experience and identity
  • How sound can be used to excavate and even speculate about known and unknown historical moments in the South
  • Distinctly southern uses of sound to imagine and examine race and trauma
  • The sounds of faith, ritual, and spiritual practices hidden or in plain sight
  • The sound of the South to Deaf and DeafBlind communities, to people who have never heard sounds or can no longer hear, and to people for whom listening is more than auditory
  • Sound as a tool of liberation/emancipation/freedom in the South­
  • Sound as a signifier of the natural or ecological South
  • Sound as an archive
  • Sound as a marker of the South’s peculiar relationship to time and space
  • Sound as weapon, violence, and terrorism
  • Sound as a tool for branding/monetizing the South
  • Sound as revealing cultural layering and dominance
  • Sound as exclusionary


As we also publish a digital edition, we are able to supplement print materials with video, audio, and interactive visual content. We encourage creativity in coordinating print and digital materials in submissions and ask that authors submit any potential digital materials with their essay or introduction/artist’s statement.


We encourage authors to gain familiarity with the tone, scope, and style of our journal before submitting. Those whose institutions subscribe to Project Muse can read past issues for free via . To read our current issue, access our submission guidelines, or browse our content, please visit us online at