Pre-Workshop Reading & Assignments

Each participant should complete the following prior to the workshop.



Then read:

At least ONE of the following TWO books:

Barry, John M.  1988.  Rising Tide:  The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.  New York:  Touchstone.

Daniel, Pete.  1997.  Deep’n As It Come:  The 1927 Mississippi River Flood.  Oxford University Press.


At least ONE of the following FOUR books:

Cobb, James.  1992.  The Most Southern Place on Earth:  the Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity.  New York:  Oxford University Press.

Ferris, William.  2009.  Give My Poor Heart Ease.  the University of North Carolina Press.  NOTE- this book comes with a CD of original field recordings and a DVD of documentary films, at least one of which we will watch during the workshop.  It’s a valuable teaching resource.

Willis, John C.  2000.  Forgotten Time:  The Yazoo-Mississippi Delta after the Civil War.  Virginia:  The University of Virginia Press.

Saikku, Mikko.  2005.  This Delta, This Land.  University of Georgia Press.


ONE of these FOUR  books:

Crowe, Chris.  2003.  Getting Away With Murder:  The True Story of the Emmett Till Case.  Dial Books.

Curry, Constance.  1995.  Silver Rights.  New York:  Harcourt Brace & Company.

Asch, Chris Myers.  2008.  The Senator and the Sharecropper: The Freedom Struggles of James O. Eastland and Fannie Lou Hamer.  New Press.

Lemann, Nicholas.  1991.  The Promised Land:  An Account of Sharecropping Families in Their Journey from the Mississippi Delta to Chicago.  Pan McMillan.


AND we also RECOMMEND these for anyone who is especially interested in the Mississippi Delta:

Dattel, Gene  •  2009  •  Cotton and Race in the Making of America:  the Human Costs of Economic Power  •  Ivan R. Dee, Publisher.

Faulkner, John  •  1942  •  Dollar Cotton  •  A Hill Street Classics Book.

Ferris, William  •  1978  •  Blues from the Delta  •  New York:  Da Capo Press

Taulbert, Clifton  •  1995  •  When We Were Colored  •  New York:  Penguin Group.

Beito and Beito  •  2009  •  Black Maverick  •  University of Illinois Press

Tyson, Timothy B  •  2017  •  The Blood of Emmett Till  •  Simon and Schuster

Wilkerson, Isabel  •  2011  •  The Warmth of Other Suns  •  Vintage Press.


And if you are really interested in the Delta, why not read ALL of the above books?  They are all excellent and make pretty exciting reading.

Our hope is that the choice you are allowed among the books will result in greater discussion.  At least some of the forty participants will choose each book, meaning that each of you will bring a different background to our meetings.  Please be ready to talk about the books you read.


In the past, NEH has requested that all Summer Scholars either write new, or revise existing lesson plans that they can use in their classrooms and share with others.  This is still a great idea and we hope that at least some of you will do so.

This year, NEH has given you some options.  We still ask that you leave something that you created during the workshop when you depart at the end.  That can be a lesson plan, or it can be some other work, including poetry, journal entries, or creative writing.  You might want to bring some of your existing lesson plans (or poetry or writing) that involve topics relevant to our workshop. Such topics might include “sense of place,” civil rights issues, the Emmett Till case, Blues or other music (both as music and as poetry), the Mississippi River, literature dealing with the Delta, the geography of the Great Migration, or any other topic you think appropriate.  If you bring that kind of outline, you will have something specific to modify with your new experiences during the workshop (many past Scholars have taken many photos during their week in the Delta and used them extensively in the classroom, along with their journal entries describing their experiences and emotions).

Whatever you choose to do, we really believe that writing your thoughts down will help you reflect on your experiences, organize them in creative ways, and help you remember and use them after you leave the Delta.  We also want to post your thoughts on our web site, as we have with all the  lesson plans developed in the past.  Check them out!  There are some really creative approaches and we are proud of all our past NEH Summer Scholars.