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Inhabiting Contemporary Southern and Appalachian Literature

Region and Place in the Twenty-First Century

Casey Clabough

Publication Year: 2012

The idea of place--any place--remains one of our most basic yet slippery concepts. It is a space with boundaries whose limits may be definite or indefinite; it can be a real location or an abstract mental, spiritual, or imaginary construction.

Casey Clabough’s thorough examination of the importance of place in southern literature examines the works of a wide range of authors, including Fred Chappell, George Garrett, William Hoffman, Julien Green, Kelly Cherry, David Huddle, and James Dickey. Clabough expands the definition of "here" beyond mere geography, offering nuanced readings that examine tradition and nostalgia and explore the existential nature of "place."

Deeply concerned with literature as a form of emotional, intellectual, and aesthetic engagement with the local and the regional, Clabough considers the idea of place in a variety of ways: as both a physical and metaphorical location; as an important factor in shaping an individual, informing one of the ways the person perceives the world; and as a temporal as well as geographic construction.

This fresh and useful contribution to the scholarship on southern literature explains how a text can open up new worlds for readers if they pay close enough attention to place.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page, Copyright, Quotes

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pp. ix-x

As this book represents the culmination of my four previous scholarly books—the end of a decade-long intellectual odyssey which began with Elements: The Novels of James Dickey—I would like to thank en masse all the press and journal staffs I have worked with over those years who...

Part I. Getting (Back) There: An Introduction and a Case Study

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Why Read for Place? An Introduction

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pp. 3-24

Confusions of temporality aside, here we are, or as Henry James might say, “Here we wonderfully are”: you, reader, for whom I am grateful, arriving only now, and myself seated at my writing desk, the rest of this book yet to take shape, facing south toward the hay fields of the...

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1. “To Blend in the Place You’re In, but with a Mind to Do Something”: The Practice of Merging in James Dickey’s To the White Sea

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pp. 25-47

Despite its Second World War Japanese milieu and singular narrator/ protagonist, the third and final novel of James Dickey, To the White Sea (1993), is possessed of close symbolic and thematic associations with each of the author’s preceding two published fictional works. As in...

Part II. A Matter of Context: Region and Place

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2. One Writer’s Place: The South of George Garrett

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pp. 51-65

Well-worn and much-maligned, the interdisciplinary concept known as globalization generally espouses the vision of a borderless world dominated by multinationals and markets, vanguards of a homogenized culture shaped by Western values and a grand narrative of reason...

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3. Representing Urban Appalachia: Fred Chappell’s The Gaudy Place

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pp. 66-85

On the dust jacket of the first edition of Fred Chappell’s fourth novel, The Gaudy Place (1973), is a bare room, naked except for a table and two empty chairs. On the table sits a napkin dispenser, a bottle of whiskey, a tumbler (empty except for two large cubes of ice), and an ashtray containing...

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4. The Truths of William Hoffman’s Southern Appalachian Places: The Critics’ and His Own

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pp. 86-102

James Dickey liked to declare, “The true consciousness of the race is in the hands of the liars,” by which he meant “the artists” with their powerful capacities to invent and/or fabricate resonant archetypal artifacts that at once transcend and speak for a given cultural moment. It is an...

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5. Southern Appalachian Montage: Reviewing Books across Regions (A Collection)

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pp. 103-122

This chapter functions as a concluding microcosm—a subregion, if you will—of this section on region and place. In addition to bringing to light some deserving twenty-first-century writers this book otherwise would not address, the compressed book-review format of these...

Part III. Looking Closer: A State of Place

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6. “Out of Space, Out of Time”: The Virginia Novels of Julien Green

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pp. 125-140

While his fiction remains strangely unfamiliar to most readers and scholars in the United States, Julien Green’s work has garnered acclaim at one time or another from such celebrated European intellectuals as Hermann Hesse, Carl Jung, George Orwell, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Some...

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7. Hanging On to Place: The Self-Reflexive Depths of Kelly Cherry’s Fiction

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pp. 141-154

The scholar Matthew Bruccoli once wrote, “It has been justly held that a writer deserves to be judged by his work. Nonetheless, a writer’s best work must be assessed in terms of his total work” (xx). This, of course, is a sound and grounded program for literary appraisal, yet one that...

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8. Here, There, Where: David Huddle’s Appalachian Virginia

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pp. 155-175

Much as that mountain culture along the New River near a village called Ivanhoe in southwest Virginia has and does trouble(d) him, David Huddle can’t seem to help but return to it again and again in his work, repeatedly conjuring up that small portion of hilly rural Virginia in print...

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Epilogue: Writing for a Place—A Writer’s Workshop for McDowell County, West Virginia

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pp. 177-188

A community-based writing workshop is a good way to encourage local folks to create and tell stories, and to receive helpful advice from writers and friends. The writer’s workshop should be a safe place where people can communicate without fear of harsh criticism. It is important...

Works Cited

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pp. 189-197


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pp. 199-202

About the Author, Further Reading

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p. 203

E-ISBN-13: 9780813043708
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813041735
Print-ISBN-10: 0813041732

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 811505306
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Inhabiting Contemporary Southern and Appalachian Literature

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism
  • American literature -- Appalachian Region -- History and criticism.
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