Giving setting character: identity and place in American southern literature

Stinson, Felicia Ann (2015) Giving setting character: identity and place in American southern literature. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


In an effort to address and to rectify the overabundance of stereotype in regional literature of the American South, this dissertation seeks to recontextualize the traditional markers and the use of sense of place to determine setting. Instead, the thesis emphasizes and explores how relationships of identity through attitudes of dysfunction and obsession can give place or land agency within a narrative, thus reinvigorating the value and authenticity of the regional narrative beyond common and expected patterns. This is exemplified and analyzed in close readings of contemporary Southern writers who defy the traditional narrative, e.g. Jesmyn Ward, Benh Zeitlin, and Karen Russell, as well as canonical authors whose success can be seen in the appearance of these attitudes and development of identity for place, e.g. William Faulkner and Margaret Mitchell. The accompanying novel excerpts serve to highlight even further the execution and power of this literary form for a post-millennium Southern Literature, which can evade its growing presence as a genre literature and regains its position as a figurehead for the significance of regional writing.

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