It has been around one month since I met with GC&SU research librarian Jolene Cole to discuss the Mallory case. In retrospect, it may have proved more beneficial to attend a meeting closer to the midpoint of the semester, as my knowledge of the case at the time was somewhat limited, likely leaving it difficult for Cole to offer pointed feedback. In any case, much of her early advice has remained relevant. At the time, Cole encouraged our group to compare our Gwinnett County case against other challenges to Harry Potter in the United States, one of several factors which later influenced our decision to place the case in a national framework based on the rise of a broad Religious Right, rather than a regional framework based more specifically on southern cultural homogeneity. Her observation that many of these national cases centered similarly around the theme of witchcraft led us to view the Gwinnett case through a lens of religious identity, which led naturally into the topic of the formation of a conservative Christian coalition from the 1970s to the present, given the case’s timeframe. This early consultation, ultimately, fell short of my expectations on both primary source leads and secondary information, but I recognize that the intent of the meeting was mainly to determine if our chosen topic, one of three at the time, was viable.
Shortly after the meeting with Jolene Cole, I contacted Dr. James Welborn, an academic historian specializing in the development of southern identity, via email, intending to build on the context surrounding our newly acquired topic. Specifically, I requested “any articles/books that would be useful for placing this case in the context of turn-of-the-century southern morality, religious fundamentalism, localism, etc.,” anticipating, based on references to biblical literalism in the summary of the state appellate hearing, that the case would pertain to 20th century southern evangelism. He promptly responded with a list of articles involving both the rise of the Religious Right around the “turn of the twenty-first century,” as well as “works that focus on the rise of fundamentalism in the U.S. South around the turn of the 20th century … many of which chart the evolution of such thinking well into the 1900s.” A full list of provided sources will be attached as a post-script for the sake of clarity, but among these, those that focus predominantly on the moral character of fundamentalism and common community-building strategies within the national fundamentalist sphere, like Michael Lienesch’s “The Drama at Dayton,” or Daniel K. Williams “Moral Majority,” have proved instrumental in contextualizing the way in which Mallory, who was functionally a fringe outsider receiving a minimal amount of immediate community support, engaged with what was essentially a united-front of academic freedom argumentation in favor of allowing continued access to the Harry Potter series. I have not consulted further with Dr. Welborn
in any structured capacity following this initial consultation, and his lack of direct familiarity with the case at hand would likely render any potential interview unnecessary, but regardless, his expert advice has also been instrumental in providing our project with direction, and guiding us towards a sufficient historiographic base.
Post Script: List of Relevant Secondary Sources Provided by Dr. James Welborn
Turn of 21st Century:
1) “What Is the Christian Right?” in Onward Christian Soldiers? The Religious Right in American Politics by Clyde Wilcox & Carin Robinson
2) “Religion, Race, and the Right in the South, 1945-1990” by Paul Harvey & “The Religious Right and Electoral Politics in the South” by Charles S. Bullock III & Mark C. Smith in Politics and Religion in the White South edited by Glen Feldman
3) “Moral Majority” & “Reagan” in God’s Own Party: The Making of the Christian Right by Daniel K. Williams
4) “Advance and Retreat in the Palmetto State: Assessing the Christian Right in South Carolina” by C. Danielle Vinson & James L. Guth in The Christian Right in American Politics: Marching to the Millennium edited by John C. Green, Mark J. Rozell, & Clyde Wilcox (GAVIEW)
1) “Holiness” in Fundamentalism and American Culture: The Shaping of Twentieth-Century Evangelicalism, 1870-1925 by George M. Marsden
2) “The Evolution of Plain-Folk Religion in the South, 1835-1920” by David Edwin Harrell in Varieties of Southern Religious Experiences edited by Samuel S. Hill
3) “Preface,” “Defining Fundamentalism,” & “Conclusion: Southern Fundamentalists” in Strangers in Zion: Fundamentalists in the South, 1900-1950 by William Robert Glass
4) “Take Away the Serpents from Us: The Sign of Serpent Handling and the Development of Southern Pentecostalism” by Michael J. McVicar in The Journal of Southern Religion, Vol. 15, 2013;
5) “The Drama at Dayton” in In the Beginning: Fundamentalism, the Scopes Trial, and the Making of the Antievolution Movement by Michael Lienesch
6) “Fundamentalism in Recent Southern Culture: Has It Done What the Civil Rights Movement Couldn’t Do?” by Samuel S. Hill in Southern Crossroads: Perspectives on Religion and Culture edited by Walter H. Conser Jr. & Rodger M. Payne (GAVIEW)