Episode #59 The Free State of Jones with Victoria Bynum


Hi all - this week I am super-stoked to welcome Dr. Victoria Bynum to the show. Dr. Bynum is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at Texas State University, San Marcos. A scholar of class, gender, race relations in the Civil War Era South, she is an award-winning author and a National Endowment of the Humanities Fellow. Her book, The Free State of Jones (UNC Press, 2001, 2016), inspired the movie, The Free State of Jones (STX Entertainment, 2016). Other publications include Unruly Women: The Politics of Social and Sexual Control in the Old South (UNC Press, 1992) and The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies (UNC Press, 2010). She is the creator and administrator of the blog, Renegade South.

Our talk today focused on Jones County, Mississippi during the Civil War and Reconstruction…which you will see is rather more complex than the movie would let on. I mean, I rather enjoyed the film and thought Matthew McConaughey was great. But as is often the case, a film can only do so much in two hours, and they often overlook the vast complexities in the interest of narrative. All good though, read the book and fill in the gaps…and by all means listen to the show!! We discuss:

  • How we can separate history from myth in the case of Jones Co.

  • How the Jones Co. story challenges the conventional Lost Cause narrative

  • The sentiment expressed by Newt Knight and his band as a case study for the non-slaveholding class across the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction (enter big-time complexities)

  • The historical background and tradition of resistance in Jones Co.

  • History and Hollywood…what the movie got right, and what was not quite right (read…overdone).

Be sure to check out Dr. Bynum’s BLOG and follow her on the usual social suspects: Facebook and Twitter. And please leave you comments below. We get into a lot of interesting stuff and I would love to keep the conversation going!

And please, be sure and subscribe on Apple Podcasts or your favorite app so you never ever ever ever miss a show. That would be dumb.

With compliments,


I kinda hope he listens.

I kinda hope he listens.