Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xxviii

Postmodernity has come late to southern literature. As recently as the 1970s critics could still expect to encounter new regional fiction that adhered to the established modernist patterns and nuances of the Southern Renascence, could still hope to weather the distant yet disquieting developments of poststructuralism anticipating that the postmodern era might pass by and leave the southern critical industry relatively unscathed...

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Arcady Revisited: The Poor South of Harry Crews and Dorothy Allison

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pp. 32-65

The pastoral mode traditionally has been one of the predominant motifs of southern literature. From the early days of colonial writing, the American South has been characterized as a rural region, one in which the pace of the agricultural life largely dictated the mores of civilization and its literature. During the internecine conflict of the nineteenth century, these bucolic depictions of the South intensified as ideology took an increasingly predominant role...

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The New Naturalism of Larry Brown

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pp. 66-87

In the early 1980s authorship in the South took a quiet but auspicious turn: an Oxford, Mississippi, firefighter named Larry Brown sat down at a portable typewriter and began to teach himself how to write literary fiction. Like his predecessor Harry Crews—one of the many writers who had influenced him— Brown's background was very different from those of the canonized southern literati who preceded him. Brown had grown up in relative poverty, and consequently he brought the perspective of poor-white southerners into his fiction...

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Mediation, Interpolation:Bobbie Ann Maso and Kaye Gibbons

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pp. 88-121

So much has been made of Bobbie Ann Mason's status as the "last southern writer" that the distinction has become almost a cliche. In many southern literature courses either Shiloah and Other Stories or In Country is listed as the last text in syllabi on twentieth-century writing, as if her work readily satisfies a curricular need for an ultimate expression of the southern literary consciousness— either as epitaph or coda to the Renascence...

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Atavism and the Exploded Metanarrative: Cormac McCarthy's Journey to Mythoclasm

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pp. 122-140

In 1975 Vanderbilt critic and novelist Walter Sullivan, delivering the eighteenth annual Lamar Lectures at Mercer University, assessed the state of fiction in the modern South. His lecture was entitled "A Requiem for the Renascence," and in reviewing contemporary southern fiction he found little cause for optimism. Southern writing, he declared, had lost its sense of the universal and consequently suffered from the "naturalistic excesses" that accompany...

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Into the Suburbs: Richard Ford's Sportswriter as Postsouthern Expatriate

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pp. 141-168

In 1996 Richard Ford received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for Independence Day, the sequel to his successful novel The Sportswriter (1986). The award placed him in the company of the other prominent southern writers who had received the prize, among them Robert Penn Warren, William Faulkner, Katherine Anne Porter, William Styron, Eudora Welty, Alice Walker, and Peter Taylor...

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Signifyin(g) in the South: Randall Kenan

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pp. 169-191

The tenor of contemporary southern literature is more than ever one of revision and renovation—at least among white authors. Yet the revisionist innovations reshaping white literary expression have long been characteristic of African American writing/ the impulse toward repudiating the dominant ideology— the catalyst of the poor-white renaissance—has shaped black American literature since its earliest phase. The close parallels between lower-class white authors and black southerners...

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Barry Hannah and the "Open Field" of Southern History

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pp. 192-210

The Civil War has been nearly ubiquitous in southern fiction. As Walter Sullivan has noted, "It is a fact that since 1865 Southern novelists have simply not been able to leave the Civil War alone" ("Southern Novelists" 112). Perhaps the most dramatic event in southern history, the Civil War has served the ideological purposes of generations of southern authors. It has been amenable to the configurations of writers of vastly disparate intent...

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Conclusion: No Jeremiad

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pp. 211-217

For nearly forty years the predominant mood of southern criticism has been, in Walter Sullivan's memorable formulation, melancholy. As the old order has waned and been replaced by a younger generation of writers less captivated by tradition, the shape of southern fiction has become more diffuse and eclectic— to the dismay of those who would interpret southern modernism as the apotheosis of the southern literary imagination. For those of traditional inclination, the region's contemporary fiction represents the certain sign of imaginative decline or, worse still, the very portent of barbarism...

Notes

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pp. 218-221

Bibliography

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pp. 222-229

Index

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pp. 230-202