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Upon Provincialism

Southern Literature and National Periodical Culture, 1870–1900

Bill Hardwig

Publication Year: 2013

Drawing on tourist literature, travelogues, and local-color fiction about the South, Bill Hardwig tracks the ways in which the nation's leading interdisciplinary periodicals, especially the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and the Century, translated and broadcast the predominant narratives about the late-nineteenth-century South. In many ways, he attests, the national representation of the South was controlled more firmly by periodical editors working in the Northeast, such as William Dean Howells, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and Richard Watson Gilder, than by writers living in and writing about the region. Fears about national unity, immigration, industrialization, and racial dynamics in the South could be explored through the safe and displaced realm of a regional literature that was often seen as mere entertainment or as a picturesque depiction of quaint rural life. The author examines in depth the short work of George Washington Cable, Charles Chesnutt, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Lafcadio Hearn, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Thomas Nelson Page in the context of the larger periodical investment in the South. Arguing that this local-color fiction calls into question some of the lines of demarcation within U.S. and southern literary and cultural studies, especially those offered by identity-based models, Hardwig returns these writers to the dynamic cultural exchanges within local-color fiction from which they initially emerged.

Published by: University of Virginia Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-x


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pp. xi-xiv

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pp. 1-16

Local-color writing concerning the southern United States from 1870 until 1900 reveals as much about national readers and editors as it does about the region itself. That is the central claim of this book. The final three decades of the nineteenth century represent the height of the popularity...

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1 / “The Creative Potency of Hunger”: Travel Writing, Local Color, and the Charting of the Postwar South

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pp. 17-44

At the same moment that southern local-color fiction was exploding onto the national literary scene in the final few decades of the nineteenth century, travel writing about the South experienced an unprecedented spike in popularity. This chapter argues that these parallel histories are not coincidental and explores the intersection of these trends, particularly...

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2 / Unveiling the Body: Literary Reception and the “Outing” of Charles W. Chesnutt and Mary N. Murfree

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pp. 45-70

Two vignettes that emerge from the offices of the Atlantic Monthly reveal the nation’s obsession with regional difference, yoking the nation’s thirst for regional authenticity to the author’s body. Both scenes demonstrate that while local-color writing may have served as leisure literature for its readers, it proved necessary for the reading public to feel as if they were...

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3 / On the Fringes: Local Color’s Haunting of the Unified South

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pp. 71-105

One of the common narratives about the postwar South is that of the “lost cause”—the crises of meaning that emerged within the former white aristocracy, or at least the landowners, who gave so much to the Confederacy and were left with so little. This narrative focuses on the ways in which the South is haunted by its past—the loss of the war and...

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4 / “Wooing the Muse of the Odd”: New Orleans at the Gate of the Tropics

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pp. 106-144

In chapter 3, I discussed the fact that George Washington Cable is generally seen as the writer who conjured the uniqueness of New Orleans for the postwar national literary market. Though less well known both then and now, his friend and colleague Lafcadio Hearn shared many of the same literary and cultural values as did Cable. Whereas Cable was...

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pp. 145-156

Upon Provincialism has examined local color’s depiction of the South in the most prominent national periodicals. In this literature, the trope of the outside traveler visiting a foreign South became the central means of bridging the imaginative gap between the national audience and the local subject matter. I have argued that charting the nexus of reader...


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pp. 157-174


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pp. 175-184

E-ISBN-13: 9780813934068
E-ISBN-10: 0813934060
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813934044
Print-ISBN-10: 0813934044

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 834143942
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Upon Provincialism

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism
  • Journalism and literature -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century.
  • Multiculturalism in literature.
  • Southern States -- In literature.
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