The Female Tradition in Southern Literature

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An effort to redress the pre-90s pattern in southern studies that has excluded non-white male authors. As with all subdivisions of literary canons, women writers and writers of colour have been cast as inferior and special interest, but the canon of southern literature has been especially fraught. This is in part due to the renown of the so-called Southern Renaissance, the accepted wisdom that particular cultural, racial, and political themes marked the tensions of the South post-World War I and this resulted in a literature in which traditional ideas of “the South” were demystified. This collection of essays by women attempts to revive a “feminine tradition” that is hardly radical but offers a starting point for an exploration of the complexity of southern literature. Topics include nineteenth century women diarists, Zora Neale Hurston, orphans, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor, interracial friendships between women, anti-abolitionist Caroline Hentz, Charleston poet Beatrice Ravenel, immigrant workers’ strikes, Zelda Fitzgerald, women’s writing as autobiography, and a very outdated heteronormative assessment of queer and genderqueer writer Carson McCullers’ philosophy of love. Unfortunately most of the essayists are white.

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