Mab Segrest to Speak on the History of Central State Hospital


Mab Segrest is this year's Martha Daniel Newell Visiting Scholar at Georgia College and State University where she is researching Central State Hospital's 170-year social history.

Segrest recently retired from the Fuller-Maathai Chair of Gender and Women's Studies at Connecticut College, and she has three decades of experience in social justice movements.

She is author of Memoir of a Race Traitor, My Mama's Dead Squirrel: Lesbian Essays on Southern Culture, and Born to Belonging: Writings on Spirit and Justice. She helped to found North Carolinians Against Racist and Religious Violence, and she worked for the World Council of Churches (WCC), the Geneva-based Protestant ecumenical organization that represents over 300 million people worldwide, as coordinator of the U.S. Contact Group of the WCC's Urban-Rural Mission from 1992 to 2000.

Segrest has founded, served on the boards of, and consulted with a wide range of social justice organizations over the past 25 years.

She will be speaking about her current project, “Administrations of Lunacy: 170 Years of Georgia Insanity,” on Thursday, Feb. 26, at 5:30 p.m. in Connell Student Center Conference Room 3. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Sarah Gardner Receives Fellowships for Book Project on Civil War Readership

Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, professor of history and director of the Center for Southern Studies, has received several prestigious research fellowships to support her current book project.

Gardner is working on a study of the reading habits, practices, and choices of a people at war.

Putting the reader, rather than the text, at the center, “Wartime Reading in the Confederacy” asks not just what people read, but how and why they read. Drawing on diaries, private correspondence, inventories, regimental histories, and soldiers' observations and recollections, it examines the reading habits and practices of distinct communities during the war, including civilians on the Confederate home front, Confederate and Union soldiers in camps and on the front lines, and prisoners of war.

Soldiers and civilians did not merely respond to the circumstances of war and of eventual Confederate defeat. Rather, reading – how and what they read, the meanings that they ascribed to what they read, and the conditions that influenced their reading – shaped their understanding of the world around them.

The fellowships she has received include Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowships from the Virginia Historical Society and from the Huntington Library; an Earhart Foundation Fellowship on American History from the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan; a Lillian Gary Taylor Fellowship in American Literature from the Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, University of Virginia; and a Dianne Woest Fellowship from the Historic New Orleans Collection. Together, these fellowships will support more than nine months of archival research at leading repositories in Civil War and Reconstruction-era history.

Dr. Gardner's primary area of research is southern intellectual history. She is the author of Blood and Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 and “Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Creation of the Southern Renaissance,” which is currently at Cambridge University Press.

Center for Southern Studies Offering Southern Semester for International Students

The Center for Southern Studies will offer international students a unique opportunity to study the South in the South. Students from American and international universities may apply to spend a semester at Mercer taking classes with scholars of the South, living in the South, and earning college credit.

Southern semester students take four courses in different disciplines related to the South. The courses build connections among the region's literature, culture, history, and politics, so students gain an understanding of how the region developed over time, how racism developed as a social problem, and how the South generated a distinct culture.

Southern semester students also explore parts of the South related to their courses, meet with visiting scholars and learn about their research, and enjoy the experience of a liberal arts college in a historic and vibrant southern city.

The theme for southern semester in the fall of 2015 is the long struggle for civil rights.

Patricia Sullivan, professor of history at the University of South Carolina, will deliver the Lamar Lectures on the Civil Rights Movement. Southern semester courses will relate to the movement, and southern semester students will attend the lectures, a symposium on the movement, and visit the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the King Center in Atlanta.

Southern semester students will take a course on African American literature with Dr. Chester Fontenot, a course on the literature of the Civil Rights Movement with Dr. David A. Davis, a course on southern history with Dr. Sarah Gardner, and a course on southern religion with Dr. Doug Thompson.

For more information on the Southern semester, visit