Professor of History
B.A., The University of the South; A.M., Ph.D., Brown University
Woody Register graduated from Sewanee in 1980 and received his doctorate in history in 1991 from Brown University. His research has been in post-Civil War American cultural and intellectual history. He came to Sewanee in 1993 and teaches courses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American society and culture, popular culture, and gender. Register also serves as director of the interdisciplinary American Studies Program.
Register's research ranges widely in the history of popular culture, gender, consumer culture, business, and social welfare in the early twentieth century. His most recent work concerns the history of friendship and masculinity, which he examines through a history of the lives of five boys — “street toughs” — who in the 1890s were “rescued” from the slums of New York City and put through the George Junior Republic, a juvenile reform program near Ithaca, New York. This recent work has been assisted by the Appalachian College Association, the Associated Colleges of the South, the Central New York Humanities Corridor Visiting Scholar Program, and the University of the South Faculty Development Fund.
In 2001 Oxford University Press published The Kid of Coney Island: Fred Thompson and the Rise of American Amusements, a study of the Broadway and Coney Island showman Fred Thompson. The book examines gender, popular amusements, and consumer culture in the United States in the early twentieth century. His article on changing conceptions of middle-class manhood in early twentieth-century American business, "Everyday Peter Pans: Work, Gender, and Consumption in Urban America, 1900-1930," appears in Boys and Their Toys? Masculinity, Class and Technology in America, edited by Roger Horowitz (Routledge 2001). His study of the American toy industry, "The Sentimental Work of Play: Manhood and the American Toy Industry, 1900-1930," was published in Cultures of Commerce: Representation and American Business Culture, 1877-1960, edited by Elspeth H. Brown, Catherine Gudis, and Marina Moskowitz (Palgrave, 2006). Partnering with Bruce Dorsey of Swarthmore College, he recently published Crosscurrents in American Culture: A Reader in United States History, a two-volume collection of texts in American cultural history (Houghton-Mifflin 2007). His contribution to the Sewanee Sesquicentennial History Project, a historical consideration of Sewanee's legendary "Iron Man" football team of 1899, has just been published in Sewanee Perspectives on the History of the University of the South, edited by Gerald L. Smith and Samuel R. Williamson (Sewanee: University of the South, 2008). An essay, "Looking for the Popular Culture of Grant’s America," will appear in the forthcoming volume edited by Edward O. Frantz, The Blackwell Companion to the Reconstruction Presidents, 1865-1881 (Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, 2013).