Luke Manget, PhD
I am a historian, writer, (occasional) musician, father, and husband who currently lives in Signal Mountain, Tennessee, with my wife, Natalie, and three boys: Henry (10), Charlie (6), and Jack (4). My primary expertise is 19th-century American history and, more specifically, southern environmental and rural history and Appalachian History. However, my research and teaching interests are diverse.
I grew up in Georgia, moving from Stone Mountain to Decatur to Conyers over the first fifteen years of my life. Family has been a very important influence in my life. My mom, Debbie, was the director of Nancy Guinn Public Library in Conyers for more than two decades before she retired in 2009. My father, Tom, was a long-time environmental protection officer for the Georgia Department of Natural Resources until his retirement in 2014. Among the many things they have passed on to me was a love of books and a commitment to protecting the environment. My brother, Daniel, lives in Asheville and works as an environmental educator at the Pisgah Wildlife Education Center in Brevard. He and I have kept a blog dedicated to the nature, history, and culture of the Southern Appalachian region since 2014. My sister, Helen, is working towards her Bachelor's degree in biology at Georgia Gwinnett College.
In 1999, I enrolled at Georgia Tech on a football scholarship, and for four years I was the starting placekicker for the Yellow Jackets. By the time I graduated with a major in History, Technology, and Society, I was the school's all-time leading scorer and owner of several more records. In 2015--still quite unbelievably--I was inducted into the school's athletic hall of fame. I signed as a free agent with the New Orleans Saints and spent one, long, hot summer in southern Louisiana before the Saints sent me packing. Rather than continue to pursue a career in the NFL, I decided to move to the mountains of western North Carolina. In the town of Murphy, population 1,800, I took a job as a staff writer for a weekly newspaper, the Cherokee Scout, and moved into a house in Brasstown. For nearly two years, as I covered the politics/government and outdoors/environment beats, I came to know intimately the issues facing rural Appalachia, the weight of the past, and the challenges of the future. In 2005, I started a job teaching social studies and running the soccer program at Murphy High School. Along the way, I got married, bought a house, and had two boys, but my writing took a back seat while I worked hard at being a professional educator. Natalie soon got a job teaching art at MHS, and we were poised to settle in for the long term. But the attraction of teaching in higher education, where I could research, write, and teach, was never far from my mind.
So in 2010, I applied to the M.A. program in history at Western Carolina with the hopes of eventually getting my PhD and teaching at the college level. For two years while Natalie kept her teaching job, I commuted nearly every day over two mountain ranges--an hour and fifteen minutes one way--to Cullowhee, where I began studying Appalachian history with Richard Starnes. In 2012, I was accepted into the PhD program at the University of Georgia to work with the legendary Appalachian historian, John C. Inscoe. And my supporting, loving wife agreed to uproot the family, rent our house out, sell or give away most of our stuff, and move to Athens. That fall, we said goodbye to our life in Clay County and headed south, finding a new home in a 2-bedroom apartment in university housing. Our five years in Athens were some of the most precious years of our lives. We had another son, made some close friends, and I got to teach college classes and travel all over the country, researching and presenting my research to all kinds of wonderful people. My writing passion was reignited. In May of 2017, I became the first of my cohort to be hooded.
After 10 excruciating months of looking for a faculty history job, I accepted an offer from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga to be a lecturer in August, and we have enjoyed the past year here. Our sons like their schools, and Natalie enjoys her job working at a Reggio Emilia-inspired Preschool. However, the perennial winds of change have blown again, and I have accepted a job as Assistant Professor of History at Dalton State College in Dalton, Georgia. Ahhh. The journey continues. We are looking forward to the new life.