John Herbert Hayes

Graduate Student Excellence-in-Research Award 2008

John Herbert Hayes, a recent doctoral graduate in history, used songs, folklore, oral histories and field studies to recover the Protestant culture of impoverished rural southerners, both black and white, in the early- to mid-20th Century. His work revealed the significance of that religious culture on the development of Johnny Cash, an important popular icon. In deftly analyzing a regional religious culture that has gone largely unexamined by historians despite its centrality to the lives and politics of a sizable population, Hayes argued that religion has been a defining feature of class identify in the New South.