I'm delighted to report that Sally Hadden and Patricia Minter's co-edited volume, Signposts: New Directions in Southern Legal History will be coming out from University of Georgia Press soon. Cribbing now from the UGA Press website for the book:
In Signposts, Sally E. Hadden and Patricia Hagler Minter have assembled seventeen essays, by both established and rising scholars, that showcase new directions in southern legal history across a wide range of topics, time periods, and locales. The essays will inspire today's scholars to dig even more deeply into the southern legal heritage, in much the same way that David Bodenhamer and James Ely's pathbreaking 1984 work, Ambivalent Legacy, inspired an earlier generation to take up the study of southern legal history.
Contributors to Signposts explore a wide range of subjects related to southern constitutional and legal thought, including real and personal property, civil rights, higher education, gender, secession, reapportionment, prohibition, lynching, legal institutions such as the grand jury, and conflicts between bench and bar. A number of the essayists are concerned with transatlantic connections to southern law and with marginalized groups such as women and native peoples. Taken together, the essays in Signposts show us that understanding how law changes over time is essential to understanding the history of the South.
The contributors are Lisa Lindquist Dorr, Laura F. Edwards, James W. Ely Jr., Tim Alan Garrison, Sally E. Hadden, Roman J. Hoyos, Thomas N. Ingersoll, Jessica K. Lowe, Patricia Hagler Minter, Cynthia Nicoletti, Susan Richbourg Parker, Christopher W. Schmidt, Jennifer M. Spear, Christopher R. Waldrep, Peter Wallenstein, Charles L. Zelden, and me.
It will not surprise faculty lounge readers that I'm very much looking forward to this volume. My essay asks that intellectual historians of the pre-Civil War South more fully integrate lawyers and judges into their story. In particular I argue that because the law (in this case treatises and appellate decisions) was closely linked to economic and demographic reality that legal thinkers show how people who truck in ideas were closely related to their society, rather than distinct from it. This is a point of substantial contention among historians of southern intellectual history. Though my dataset in this chapter is largely drawn from appellate cases, I develop some of these themes about how lawyers and judges reflected the ideas of their era in a recent article on addresses by judges and lawyers here at UNC before the Civil War. (And in an earlier essay on addresses at the University of Alabama before the war.)
I must add that I suggested they use a picture of Blackhead Signpost Road in Southampton as the cover art. I thought it fit so perfectly with the legal history of the South -- the road, after all, gets its name from the slave who was executed there and whose head was left on a post as a warning to others. Wow. About this I will have a lot -- lot -- more to say in the spring when I start talking about the Nat Turner rebellion trials. Obviously wiser (or maybe it's calmer) heads prevailed in this case.