James P. Cantrell first sensed that
the Celtic cultural heritage was the primary source of Southern culture while
researching his master's thesis. After learning the Gaelic and Cymric (Welsh
variation) languages—in order to specialize in Irish literature while working
for his M.A. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—Mr. Cantrell
recognized many surnames of Celtic origin common to his native Middle Tennessee,
a region primarily settled by immigrants from Wales, Ireland, and Scotland.
Further reading about Celtic folk culture revealed social behavior similar to
what he knew from his own upbringing in the hill country. Mr. Cantrell pursued
his theory, despite surprisingly strong opposition from some academics, and
found further evidence in the writings of many great Southern writers, including
Faulkner and O'Conner. How Celtic Culture Invented Southern Literature
disproves the common perception, prevalent in American universities, that the
culture of white Southerners springs from English, or Anglo-Norman, roots.
Mr. Cantrell has contributed essays
and book reviews to several magazines and scholarly journals including
Eire-Ireland, The Irish Worldwide, and online at www.lewrockwell.com. He
graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. Mr. Cantrell earned his Ph.D.
in American literature with an emphasis on Southern literature from the
University of Arkansas, where he received the Blair Rouse Scholarship and James
J. Hudson Dissertation Fellowship. This book, his first, has its roots in his
doctoral studies; the field has been greatly expanded over the years.
Mr. Cantrell is a native of Warren
County who currently lives in Germantown, Tennessee, with his wife of twenty
years and their two sons.