Our South: Geographic Fantasy and the Rise of National Literature

Our South: Geographic Fantasy and the Rise of National Literature

by Jennifer Rae Greeson
     
 

Since the birth of the nation, we have turned to stories about the American South to narrate the rapid ascendency of the United States on the world stage. The idea of a cohesive South, different from yet integral to the United States, arose with the very formation of the nation itself. Its semitropical climate, plantation production, and heterogeneous population

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Overview

Since the birth of the nation, we have turned to stories about the American South to narrate the rapid ascendency of the United States on the world stage. The idea of a cohesive South, different from yet integral to the United States, arose with the very formation of the nation itself. Its semitropical climate, plantation production, and heterogeneous population once defined the New World from the perspective of Europe. By founding U.S. literature through opposition to the South, writers boldly asserted their nation to stand apart from the imperial world order.

Our South tracks the nation/South juxtaposition in U.S. literature from the founding to the turn of the twentieth century, through genres including travel writing, gothic and romance novels, geography textbooks, transcendentalist prose, and abolitionist address. Even as the southern states became peripheral to U.S. politics and economy, Jennifer Rae Greeson demonstrates that in literature the South remained central to the expanding and evolving idea of the nation.

Claiming the South as our deviant and recalcitrant “other,” Americans have projected an anti-imperial imperative of domesticating and civilizing, administering and integrating underdeveloped regions both within our borders and beyond. Our South has been a primal site for thinking about geography and power in the United States.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674024281
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
11/27/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Magnet South 1

PART ONE Nationalization / The Plantation South

1 The Problem of the Plantation 19

2 Putting the Colonial Past in Its Place 42

3 Domestic Possession and the Imperial Impulse 64

4 The Enemy Within 91

PART TWO Industrialization and Expansion / The Slave South

5 Underwriting Free Labor and Free Soil 115

6 American Universal Geography 145

7 Dark Satanic Fields 169

8 The Masterwork of National Literature 193

PART THREE The Question of Empire / The Reconstruction South

9 Abandoned Lands and Exceptional Empire 227

10 The Glory of Disaster 252

11 Internal Islands and the American Scene, 1898-1905 273

Notes 291

Acknowledgments 349

Index 351

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