South Central Review

South Central Review
Volume 22, Number 1, Spring 2005
Special Issue: "Southern Literature"/Southern Cultures: Rethinking Southern Literary Studies
Guest Editor: David McWhirter

CONTENTS

Articles

    Kreyling, Michael, 1948-
  • Toward "A New Southern Studies"
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Abstract:
      The life histories of academic fields of study are punctuated by revolutions. The field of southern literary studies has been in the process of such a change over the past several years. Anthologies for classroom use reflect this change by trying to capture commercial value as textbooks of the "new." The South in Perspective (Prentice Hall, 2001), edited by Edward Francisco, Robert Vaughan, and Linda Francisco, is one such anthology; it strives to ride the new wave by redistributing historical periods and shaking up thematic categories. Not all of its revisions are successful.

      Literary critical activity is another index of change. As the study of literature in general moves from centering on the text to grazing on the context, or the cultural conditions under which texts are produced and in which they have and express meaning, so the study of southern literature (long a bastion of formalist and text-centered criticism) has been shaken up by turns fueled by gender studies, studies in globalization and "new geography," new historicism, and culture studies. Houston A. Baker, Jr. and Dana D. Nelson have edited a special issue of American Literature (June 2001; 73:2) subtitled "Violence, the Body, and 'The South,'" which contains several essays calling for and demonstrating new approaches to familiar texts and unfamiliar texts in the frame of southern studies. Sometimes, however, in the drive to be new old wine is funneled into new bottles. A certain critical parallax sometimes obscures the fact that what "old" critics have written is often close to, if not identical to, what the "new" have expressed in the new vocabularies.

      Still, there are examples of new departures on familiar routes. Houston A. Baker's Turning South Again: Re-thinking Modernism/Re-reading Booker T. (Duke University Press, 2001) re-reads Up from Slavery in the context of Baker's own life as an African American scholar coming of age in the latter half of the twentieth century, and in the harsh current context of social crisis for young African American males who, Baker charges, are ill-served and led by a cadre of conservative African American intellectuals--as the people were by Booker T. Washington in the latter nineteenth century.

    Ford, Sarah Gilbreath, 1968-
  • Listening to the Ghosts: The "New Southern Studies"
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Kreyling, Michael, 1948- Toward "a new southern studies".
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Abstract:
      This essay is a response to Michael Kreyling's article analyzing the state of new southern studies. Kreyling argues that in many of the new texts, there is too much "calculated amnesia" and wants to see more awareness of past texts and criticism. My response agrees with Kreyling in this charge but suggests that the combining of new and old is a tricky business because you must determine which old you want to preserve and value. I suggest that the texts that place the mixing of old and new at the heart of their examinations are the most successful. The articles in the special issue of American Literature on the new southern studies do not negotiate that tricky combination of old and new. The Prentice-Hall anthology, The South in Perspective, includes a nice mix of canonical and non-canonical texts, but diverts attention by unnecessarily separating texts into "upper south" and "lower south" categories. I end with a discussion of Houston Baker's Turning South Again and Baker's description of being haunted by the southern past. I suggest that to avoid the problem Kreyling addresses of forgetting the past we should listen to the ghosts.
    Harris, Trudier.
  • William Melvin Kelley's Real Live, Invisible South
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Kelley, William Melvin, 1937- Different drummer.
    Abstract:
      Like many African American writers born and bred outside the southern United States, William Melvin Kelley is attracted to the South, its people, its soil, and its history. In A Different Drummer(1962), Kelley creates an invisible southern state (located between Mississippi and Alabama and south of Tennessee) in which he can work through a range of complex attitudes toward the South and the people who reside in that territory. By creating a novel about African Americans in which the narrators of the tale are all white, Kelley is able to explore race relations that originated during slavery and that still have consequences in 1957. Tucker Caliban, the diminutive chauffeur who is a descendant of "the African," a gigantic black man enslaved by Tucker's employer's great grandfather, must sever the bonds between his family and the Willsons, in whose family several generations of his ancestors have been employed following their enslavement to the Willsons. The primary narrator, Mister Harper, speculates that the blood of the African, dead since early in the nineteenth century, nonetheless courses through Tucker's veins; it eventually awakens Caliban to reclaim his family and his history. Through narration and character, Kelley creates a unique lens through which to view black heroism, white male cowardice, white female sexuality, black activism, the possibility of friendship across racial lines, the failure of that potential for friendship, and the consequences of misdirected violence. In a narrative unusual in its formation as a text composed by an African American, A Different Drummeris an inviting site on which to explore mythmaking, the meanings of southernness to African Americans and specifically to African American writers, and the impossibility of any African American writer, no matter his or her state or city of origin, to escape imaginative immersion in the South.

    Anderson, Eric Gary, 1960-
  • The Real Live, Invisible Languages of A Different Drummer: A Response to Trudier Harris
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Harris, Trudier. William Melvin Kelley's real live, invisible south.
    • Kelley, William Melvin, 1937- Different drummer.
    Abstract:
      Trudier Harris's essay raises many important questions about the past, present, and future of southern literary studies, chief among them the nagging questions of how and why particular texts and writers come to be both formative and neglected. My response to Harris begins by affirming that the novel she places under discussion, William Melvin Kelley's A Different Drummer, has been unduly overlooked by critics and teachers alike. Then I join with her in arguing that this deceptively Anglo-centered novel finds ways of making very telling points about African American identity in the South and, analogously, about African American literature as a driving force in southern U.S. literature. Kelley chooses to tell a story of black resistance by focusing much of his narrative on white resistance: how various white characters react to the complete, unanimous, and remarkably efficient black migration that happens before their eyes. Along with Harris, I address this paradox of a powerfully present African American absence; I also speak to other, related questions of personal, regional, racial, and cultural identity, such as the roles of problematic patriarchs and feminized male precursors in the novel. And I argue that the novel, finally and paradoxically, broadcasts the real live, invisible sounds of a different drummer, the words we never hear, the words African Americans use to make African American migration, resistance, and survival possible for themselves.
    Lowe, John, 1945-
  • "Calypso Magnolia": The Caribbean Side of the South
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    • Caribbean Area -- In literature.
    Abstract:
      Calypso Magnolia urges the transnational study of a new region, one that configures the coastal United States with the Caribbean islands and the gulf coasts of Mexico, Central America, and South America. The essay maps the extensive connections between the U.S. South and the Caribbean, and examines the basin's treatment in nineteenth and twentieth century U.S. southern writers such as Martin Delany, Lucy Holcombe Pickens, William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Lee Smith, Judith Ortiz Cofer, and Virgil Suarez, relating them to theorists such as Bhabha, Braudel, Glissant, Dash, Benitez-Rojo, Roach and Gilroy.
    Brown, Kimberly Nichele.
  • Sniffing the "Calypso Magnolia": Unearthing the Caribbean Presence in the South (Response)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Lowe, John, 1945- "Calypso magnolia": the Caribbean side of the south.
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Abstract:
      In "Sniffing the 'Calypso Magnolia': Unearthing the Caribbean Presence in the South," Kimberly Nichele Brown discusses the multifarious ways in which John Lowe takes the academy to task for its rigid conceptual framing of southern literature. She further examines how Lowe's proposition for widening the southern literature canon to include Caribbean influences marks a potentially paradigmatic shift in our understanding of not only southern and Caribbean studies, but of African American and Latino studies as well. Although Brown discusses the multiple benefits of blurring the boundaries of literary and cultural specialties within the academy, she voices concern about what consequences Lowe's proposal might have on the future of African American, Caribbean, and Latino studies--disciplines founded by scholars who fought for autonomy in resistance to an inflexible canon. Finally, Brown challenges Lowe to more fully define what constitutes southern literature and what characteristics (place of birth, style of writing) make someone a southern writer.
    Yaeger, Patricia.
  • Ghosts and Shattered Bodies, or What Does it Mean To Still Be Haunted by Southern Literature?
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    • Race in literature.
    Abstract:
      "Ghosts and Shattered Bodies" argues that we must recognize a repetitive structure in southern fiction that depends on the trace or remnant to conjure the unthought of history. The blunt facts of racial trauma can be over-exposed, made facile, in the glam tropology of the gothic. This older rhetorical structure gives way to a shared hauntology in which simple fragments, residues, or traces of trauma fashion a regime of haunting. When white southern fiction makes these ghosts, it is clouded and driven by the return of the oppressed. Attending to starker tragedies, black fiction delineates the return of the dispossessed. While white women writers like Douglas and Porter focus on white children who miniaturize or repress memories of angry black women, African American women writers like Wright, Dash, and Morrison tell stories about what has disappeared but needs to be called forth again--about remnants of people who have been divested of property and can only return as a remnant or fragment that needs to be made into an integer.
    Matthews, Pamela R.
  • Patricia Yaeger's Southern Hauntology: Response to "Ghosts and Shattered Bodies, or What Does it Mean to Still Be Haunted by Southern Literature?"
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Yaeger, Patricia. Ghosts and shattered bodies, or what does it mean to still be haunted by southern literature?
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    • Race in literature.
    Abstract:
      Patricia Yaeger's refreshing impatience with standard approaches to southern studies continues to inform her exploration of black and white southern women's writing in "Ghosts and Shattered Bodies." In the current essay, Yaeger argues that black and white southern women's writing registers very differently the ghosts of lost promise and possibility. In readings that range from short stories to novels to a Baptist pamphlet and other cultural texts, Yaeger explores the ghostly slippages that expose what she calls the "conditions of racial haunting" that still organize our thinking about race in southern writing as in these United States.

      While it is obvious that "Ghosts and Shattered Bodies" takes as a given its investigation of southern women's writing, there remain opportunities for thinking more about the implications of gender in the various texts Yaeger examines. Several and various textual moments cited in this essay are haunted by the twin conditions of gender and race, and occasionally by sexuality as well. Yaeger's fineness as a critic of literature and culture makes me want to see more often what she makes of these intersections.

      One of Yaeger's great strengths in this essay as elsewhere, her powerful writing style, shows the same acute attention to language that she notices in other writers. Her work seems driven by what annoys her--what haunts her, if I may--and an observant, unflinching prose is part of her head-on analysis. I'd like to read more such academic writing. Yaeger's turns of phrase, questions, and lists all speak of engagement with the texts, the reader, and her own evolving thoughts in a methodology that's generous and dialogic as well as consistently insightful.

Book Reviews

    Weinstein, Philip M.
  • Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner's "Go Down, Moses" (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Davis, Thadious M., 1944- Games of property: law, race, gender, and Faulkner's "Go down, Moses".
    • Faulkner, William, 1897-1962. Go down, Moses.
    Bonner, Thomas, 1942-
  • Songs of the Reconstructing South: Building Literary Louisiana, 1865-1945 (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Green, Suzanne Disheroon, 1963-, ed. Songs of the reconstructing South: building literary Louisiana, 1865-1945.
    • Abney, Lisa, 1964-, ed.
    • American literature -- Louisiana -- History and criticism.
    Bennett, Tanya Long.
  • Swinging in Place: Porch Life in Southern Culture (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Donlon, Jocelyn Hazelwood, 1956- Swinging in place: porch life in southern culture.
    • Southern States -- Social life and customs.
    Toth, Emily.
  • The Belle Gone Bad: White Southern Women Writers and the Dark Seductress (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Entzminger, Betina, 1967- Belle gone bad: white Southern women writers and the dark seductress.
    • American fiction -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Watson, James G. (James Gray), 1939-
  • Faulkner at West Point, and: Faulkner and Postmodernism: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 1999, and: Faulkner in the Twenty-First Century: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 2000 (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Faulkner, William, 1897-1962. Faulkner at West Point.
    • Fant, Joseph L., ed.
    • Ashley, Robert Paul, 1915-, ed.
    • Duvall, John N. (John Noel), 1956-, ed. Faulkner and postmodernism: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 1999.
    • Abadie, Ann J., ed.
    • Hamblin, Robert W., ed. Faulkner in the twenty-first century: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 2000.
    • Abadie, Ann J., ed.
    • Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 -- Interviews.
    • Faulkner, William, 1897-1962 -- Criticism and interpretation -- Congresses.
    Castille, Philip.
  • The Companion to Southern Literature: Themes, Genres, Places, People, Movements, and Motifs (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Flora, Joseph M., ed. Companion to southern literature: themes, genres, places, people, movements, and motifs.
    • MacKethan, Lucinda Hardwick, ed.
    • Taylor, Todd W., ed.
    • American literature -- Southern States -- Encyclopedias.
    Anderson, Eric Gary, 1960-
  • Seems Like Murder Here: Southern Violence and the Blues Tradition (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Gussow, Adam. Seems like murder here: southern violence and the blues tradition.
    • African Americans -- Southern States -- Intellectual life.
    Rath, Sura Prasad, 1950-
  • Narrating Knowledge in Flannery O'Connor's Fiction (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Hardy, Donald E., 1955- Narrating knowledge in Flannery O'Connor's fiction.
    • O'Connor, Flannery -- Technique.
    Griffith, Jean C.
  • South of Tradition: Essays on African American Literature (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Harris, Trudier. South of tradition: essays on African American literature.
    • American literature -- African American authors -- History and criticism.
    Donaldson, Susan Van D'Elden, 1951-
  • South to a New Place: Region, Literature, Culture (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Jones, Suzanne Whitmore, ed. South to a new place: region, literature, culture.
    • Monteith, Sharon, ed.
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Entzminger, Betina, 1967-
  • Through Random Doors We Wandered: Women Writing the South (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Juncker, Clara, 1951- Through random doors we wandered: women writing the South.
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Ford, Sarah Gilbreath, 1968-
  • One Writer's Imagination: The Fiction of Eudora Welty (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Marrs, Suzanne. One writer's imagination: the fiction of Eudora Welty.
    • Welty, Eudora, 1909- -- Criticism and interpretation.
    Pollack, Harriet.
  • Reconstructing Dixie: Race, Gender, and Nostalgia in the Imagined South (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • McPherson, Tara. Reconstructing Dixie: race, gender, and nostalgia in the imagined South.
    • Southern States -- Civilization.
    Chandler, Karen Michele.
  • Hearts of Darkness: Wellsprings of a Southern Literary Tradition (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Wyatt-Brown, Bertram, 1932- Hearts of darkness: wellsprings of a southern literary tradition.
    • American literature -- Southern States -- History and criticism.
    Gray, Richard J.
  • No Place Like Home: A Black Briton's Journey through the American South (review)
    [Access article in HTML] [Access article in PDF]
    Subject Headings:
    • Younge, Gary. No place like home: a Black Briton's journey through the American South.
    • Southern States -- Description and travel.

Contributors

Books Received




[Project MUSE] [Search Page] [Journals] [Journal Directory] [Top]