Professor's New Book Examines Dichotomy of American South

David Zurick photo

In 1996, Eastern Kentucky University geography professor Dr. David Zurick began a decade-long series of journeys throughout the American South, hoping to learn why the region is seen by outsiders as a land “apart from the rest of America” but by insiders as a place “losing its identity.”

The result of his quest is “Southern Crossings: Where Geography and Photography Meet.” The book contains 80 full-page black and white images, accompanied by descriptive vignettes, which together capture the dichotomy of the region.

When Zurick left his Kentucky home, “it was with the longstanding resolve of a geographer to make discoveries about the South and to record them in my photographic prints and notebook entries,” Zurick wrote in the book. “I knew that such a sojourn is a highly personal endeavor, and I had no intention of ‘capturing’ the South in a definitive way, as if its explanation could be universal. Like any region, the Southern landscape transcends labels and categories precisely because it is ever-changing each time a person chooses to cross it.”

Charles Reagan Wilson, professor emeritus of Southern studies at the University of Mississippi said: “The intersection of geography and photography proves a stunningly fruitful combination in ‘Southern Crossings.’ (Zurick) offers a new point of view on the transformation of the South, beyond standard traditional and modern imagery, unveiling new surfaces of the South’s visual imagery. The photographs and text embody a striking precision of place.”

The book’s publisher, The University Press of Georgia, said “‘Southern Crossings’ offers a fresh visual perspective on one of the nation’s most distinct regions. Zurick’s blending of geographical insights and artistic vision is a model for landscape photographers to emulate for years to come.”

Zurick is the author or co-author of numerous other acclaimed books, including “Errant Journeys: Adventure Travel in a Modern Age,” “My Kind of Himalaya: Life on the Edge of the World” and “Illustrated Atlas of the Himalaya.” In 2006, he won the National Outdoor Book Award.

He joined the EKU faculty in 1987 and in 2008 was named a Foundation Professor, the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching.

Published on April 05, 2011

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