The History of Southern Women's Literature

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Overview

Many of America's foremost, and most beloved, authors are also southern and female: Mary Chesnut, Kate Chopin, Ellen Glasgow, Zora Neale Hurston, Eudora Welty, Harper Lee, Maya Angelou, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, and Lee Smith, to name several. Designating a writer as "southern" if her work reflects the region's grip on her life, Mary Louise Weaks and Carolyn Perry have produced an invaluable guide to the richly diverse and enduring tradition of southern women's literature.

Their comprehensive history-the first of its kind in a relatively young field-extends from the pioneer woman to the career woman, embracing black and white, poor and privileged, urban and Appalachian perspectives and experiences.

The History of Southern Women's Literature allows readers both to explore individual authors and to follow the developing arc of various genres across time. Conduct books and slave narratives; Civil War diaries and letters; the antebellum, postbellum, and modern novel; autobiography and memoirs; poetry; magazine and newspaper writing-these and more receive close attention. Over seventy contributors are represented here, and their essays discuss a wealth of women's issues from four centuries: race, urbanization, and feminism; the myth of southern womanhood; preset images and assigned social roles-from the belle to the mammy-and real life behind the fa├žade of meeting others' expectations; poverty and the labor movement; responses to Uncle Tom's Cabin and the influence of Gone with the Wind.

The history of southern women's literature tells, ultimately, the story of the search for freedom within an "insidious tradition," to quote Ellen Glasgow. This teeming volume validates the deep contributions and pleasures of an impressive body of writing and marks a major achievement in women's and literary studies.

Carolyn Perry is associate professor of English at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Mary Louise Weaks is Hazel Koch Professor of English at Rockford College in Illinois. They previously coedited the anthology Southern Women's Writing: Colonial to Contemporary.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Editors Perry (English, Westminster Coll.) and Weaks (English, Rockford Coll.) wanted this survey to be as "all inclusive as possible to show the full range of writing by women of the South," and they have succeeded admirably. In her introduction, Weaks questions what it means to be a Southern woman writer and whether or not the Southern voice is still distinctive, and the 86 essays assembled here offer a resounding yes. Divided into sections that range from "The Antebellum and Bellum South" (beginnings to 1865) through "The Contemporary South" (from 1960 to the present), these essays discuss women's issues e.g., race, urbanization, and feminism and dissect stereotypes from belle to mammy to debutante to white trash as myths of Southern womanhood. The scholarly contributors, who range from well-known and respected Southern scholars to graduate students, explore journals, letters, narratives, novels, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. Recommended for academic libraries with large Southern literature collections and other libraries with large reference collections. Pam Kingsbury, Florence, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807127537
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/2002
  • Series: Southern Literary Studies
  • Pages: 689
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Carolyn Perry is associate professor of English at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. Mary Louise Weaks is Hazel Koch Professor of English at Rockford College in Illinois. They previously coedited the anthology Southern Women's Writing: Colonial to Contemporary.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
I The Antebellum and Bellum South (Beginnings to 1865)
Introduction to Part I 7
Antebellum Journals and Collections of Letters 17
Captivity Narratives 25
Gender Issues in the Old South 32
Eliza Lucas Pinckney 43
The Novel 48
Women's Magazines 59
Caroline Howard Gilman 64
The Grimke Sisters 70
Louisa S. McCord 77
Caroline Lee Hentz 82
Early African American Women Writers 87
Southern Women Writers' Responses to Uncle Tom's Cabin 97
Harriet Ann Jacobs 103
Civil War Diaries and Memoirs 109
Mary Chesnut 119
II The Postbellum South (1865-1900)
Introduction to Part II 125
The New Woman of the New South 133
The Postbellum Novel 141
Augusta Jane Evans Wilson 150
Southern History in the Imagination of African American Women Writers 156
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper 164
Southern Women Journalists 169
Southern Women Humorists 176
Mary Noailles Murfree 187
Southern Women Poets of the Victorian Age 193
Louisiana Writers of the Postbellum South 201
Kate Chopin 210
Grace King 216
Anna Julia Cooper 220
Alice Dunbar-Nelson 225
III Renaissance in the South (1900-1960)
Introduction to Part III 233
Southern Women Writers and the Beginning of the Renaissance 242
The Modern Novel 251
Gone with the Wind and Its Influence 258
Southern Women's Autobiography 268
Women Writers and the Myths of Southern Womanhood 275
Re-Visioning the Southern Land 290
Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance 296
Appalachian Writers 309
Southern Women Writers and Social Issues 316
The Growing Importance of Literary Circles and Mentors 329
Ellen Glasgow 336
Julia Peterkin 343
Elizabeth Madox Roberts 349
Frances Newman 354
Katherine Anne Porter 359
Evelyn Scott 364
Caroline Gordon 369
Lillian Smith 374
Zora Neale Hurston 379
Lillian Hellman 386
Eudora Welty 391
Carson McCullers 399
Flannery O'Connor 404
Harper Lee 413
IV The Contemporary South (1960 to the Present)
Introduction to Part IV 421
Myths of Southern Womanhood in Contemporary Literature 429
Southern Women Writers and the Women's Movement 439
Contemporary Autobiography and Memoir 447
Contemporary Writers and Race 455
Contemporary Poetry 467
Southern Women Writers in a Changing Landscape 478
A Second Southern Renaissance 491
Margaret Walker 498
Mary Lee Settle 503
Elizabeth Spencer 508
Ellen Douglas 512
Maya Angelou 517
Shirley Ann Grau 525
Doris Betts 530
Sonia Sanchez 535
Ellen Gilchrist 541
Gail Godwin 545
Bobbie Ann Mason 550
Anne Tyler 559
Alice Walker 563
Rita Mae Brown 570
Lee Smith 575
Josephine Humphreys 579
Dorothy Allison 584
Beth Henley 588
Jayne Anne Phillips 594
Jill McCorkle 599
Kaye Gibbons 604
Afterword: The Future of Southern Women's Writing 610
App The Study of Southern Women's Literature 621
Bibliography of General Secondary Sources on Southern Women's Literature 633
Contributors 641
Index 653
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