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Department of English

University of Mississippi

Adam Gussow

Adam Gussow (Ph.D., Princeton) is a professor of English and Southern Studies. A member of the University of Mississippi faculty since 2002, he teaches courses in American and African American literature, the blues tradition, southern autobiography, the literature and culture of running, and related areas. He has published five books: Mister Satan’s Apprentice: A Blues Memoir (1998, reissued in 2009); Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (2002), winner of the Holman Award from the Society for the Study of Southern Literature; Journeyman’s Road: Modern Blues Lives From Faulkner’s Mississippi to Post-9/11 New York (2007); Busker’s Holiday, a novel (2015), and Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition (2017), which won the Cawelti Award from the American Culture Association / Popular Culture Association and was voted “Best Blues Book of 2017” by the readership of Living Blues. Gussow’s articles and reviews have appeared in American Literature, African American Review, Southern Cultures, boundary 2, and many other publications. He has just completed a new book, Blues Talk: Making Sense of the Music in the New Millennium, which highlights the problematics of race in the contemporary blues scene and offers fresh interpretations of W. C. Handy, Langston Hughes, and Zora Neale Hurston.

In addition to his academic credentials, Gussow is a professional harmonica player and teacher. As a member of the blues duo Satan and Adam for more than 30 years, he has played all the major blues, jazz, and folk festivals; recorded three CDs for Flying Fish Records; and been featured on the cover of Living Blues magazine.


  • Ph.D., English Literature, Princeton University (2000)
  • M.A., English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University (1983)
  • B.A., English and American Literature, Princeton University (1979, magna cum laude)

Teaching and Research Interests

  • African-American literature
  •  Southern literature
  •  Blues literary and cultural studies
  •  Southern music in regional, national, and global contexts
  •  Slavery, segregation, racial violence, and racial reconciliation
  • The literature and culture of running

Recent Publications

  • Beyond the Crossroads:  The Devil and the Blues Tradition (University of North Carolina Press, 2017)
  • “’I Got a Big White Fella From Memphis Made a Deal With Me’: Black Men, White Boys, and the Anxieties of Blues Postmodernity in Walter Hill’s Crossroads,” Arkansas Review 46.2 (Summer/August 2015): 85-104.
  • review of Yoknapatawpha Blues: Faulkner’s Fiction and Southern Roots Music, by Tim A. Ryan, The Southern Register (Fall 2015): 23-25.
  • “Creating and Consuming ‘Hill Country Harmonica’: Promoting the Blues and Forging Beloved Community in the Contemporary South,” Creating and Consuming the U.S. South, ed. Martyn Bone, Brian Ward, and William Link (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2015), 139-157.
  • “Heaven and Hell Parties:  Ministers, Bluesmen, and Black Youth in the Mississippi Delta, 1920-1942,” Arkansas Review 41.3 (Winter/December 2010):  186-203.
  • “Playing Chicken With the Train:  Cowboy Troy’s Hick-Hop and the Transracial Country West,” Southern Cultures 16.4 (Winter 2010):  41-70.  A longer version of the essay was published in a volume entitled Hidden In the Mix:  African American Country Music Traditions, ed. Diane Pecknold (Duke University Press, 2013), 234-262.
  • “Ain’t No Burnin’ Hell:  Southern Religion and the Devil’s Music,” Arkansas Review 41.2 (August 2010):  83-98.
  • review of Disturbing the Peace: Black Culture and the Police Power After Slavery, by Bryan Wagner, African American Review 43.4 (Winter 2009): 770-772.
  •  “Plaintive Reiterations and Meaningless Strains:  Faulkner’s Blues Understandings,” in Faulkner’s Inheritance:  Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 2005, ed. Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J. Abadie (University Press of Mississippi, 2007):  53-81.
  •  “Where Is The Love?  Racial Wounds, Racial Healing, and Blues Communities,” Southern Cultures 12.4 (Winter 2006):  33-54.  Reprinted in Southern Cultures:  The Fifteenth Anniversary Reader, 1993-2008 (Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 2008)

Selected Recordings

  • The Blues Doctors, Roosters Happy Hour (Modern Blues Harmonica, 2014)
  • Satan and Adam, Back in the Game (Modern Blues Harmonica, 2011)
  • Adam Gussow, Kick and Stomp (Modern Blues Harmonica, 2010)
  • Satan and Adam, Living on the River (Rounder Records, 1996)
  • Satan and Adam, Mother Mojo (Flying Fish Records, 1993)
  • Satan and Adam, Harlem Blues (Flying Fish Records, 1991). Nominated for a W. C. Handy Award, “Traditional Blues Album of the Year.”

C213 Bondurant Hall