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The Southern Literary Journal 36.2 (2004) iii
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It is hardly a revelation that memoir and autobiography are now among the hottest areas in southern literary studies. The subject matter was there all along—from nineteenth-century slave narratives to mid-twentieth-century white racial conversion narratives to late century narratives treating not only race but also class, gender, and sexuality. But through the 1970s it seems that most scholars of the literature of the U.S. South concentrated on those time-tested (and New Critically- approved) genres, fiction, poetry, and (occasionally) drama. Such is hardly the case today: one finds several excellent book-length studies over the past decade or two focusing on memoir/autobiography, and this journal, along with others treating southern literature, has published a number of articles in recent years that deal with autobiography. We have received so many excellent essays in this area that we determined to devote an entire issue to the subject, and the results are contained herein. In pieces on Annie Burton, Richard Wright, Flannery O'Connor, Bobbie Ann Mason, Lewis Nordan, Dorothy Allison, and Randall Kenan, scholars have explored various aspects of southern memoir, and in her provocative essay review on the work of Houston Baker, Anne Goodwyn Jones concerns herself with that treacherous intersection of race and gender. Although race is still a primary concern in many of the essays that follow, it is no longer necessarily the primary concern, and even discussions of race now go beyond the traditional black-white binary. In our concluding piece, a treatment of the Chicano writer John Phillip Santos, Elizabeth Hayes Turner describes a part of Texas more West than South, but her essay gives evidence of the reality of an increasingly multicultural South.