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Scott Matthews

Phone: 404-413-5751


My research interests focus on the history of documentary expression, particularly in the South. I am completing a book titled Up Against the World As It Is: A History of Documentary Expression in the South that examines how photographers, filmmakers, folk song collectors, social scientists and nonfiction writers used new representational strategies to overturn old regional myths and to uncover what they believed to be the "real" South, especially the region's rural poor and their cultures. Southern Spaces, an online journal at Emory University, published a chapter from this project titled "John Cohen in Eastern Kentucky: Documentary Expression and Image of Roscoe Holcomb During the Folk Revival.

I am also collaborating with members of Primitive Baptist churches throughout the South to document their histories and traditions. I am particularly interested in their lined-out congregational hymn singing tradition, its meaning to church members, and the development of different regional hymn singing styles.

Selected Publications

Entries on agriculture and integration for the Encyclopedia of North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 2006.

"John Cohen in Eastern Kentucky: Documentary Expression and the Image of Roscoe Halcomb During the Folk Revival," Southern Spaces (Summer 2008).

"Up Against the World Like It Is: Documentary Expression in the South, 1925 - 1965," (Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Virginia, May 2008).


"The Day Is Past and Gone: Family Photographs from Eastern North Carolina," Southern Cultures, Volume 17, Number 2, Summer 2011.