The South That Wasn't There: Postsouthern Memory and History

Overview

Once, history and "the South" dwelt in close proximity. Representations of the South in writing and on film assumed everybody knew what had happened in place and time to create the South. Today, our vision of the South varies, and there is less "there there" than ever before.

In The South That Wasn't There, Michael Kreyling explores a series of literary situations in which memory and history seem to work in odd and problematic ways. Looking at Toni Morrison's masterpiece ...

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The South That Wasn't There: Postsouthern Memory and History

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Overview

Once, history and "the South" dwelt in close proximity. Representations of the South in writing and on film assumed everybody knew what had happened in place and time to create the South. Today, our vision of the South varies, and there is less "there there" than ever before.

In The South That Wasn't There, Michael Kreyling explores a series of literary situations in which memory and history seem to work in odd and problematic ways. Looking at Toni Morrison's masterpiece Beloved, he tests the viability of applying Holocaust and trauma studies to the poetics and politics of remembering slavery. He then turns to Robert Penn Warren's grapplings with his personal memory of racism, which culminated in his attempt to confront the evil directly in his book Who Speaks for the Negro? In a chapter on the court contest between Margaret Mitchell's estate and Alice Randall over Randall's parody The Wind Done Gone, Kreyling treats neglected issues such as the status of literary sequels and parody in an age of advanced commodification of the South.

Kreyling's searching inquiry into the intersection of the southern warrior narrative and the shocks dealt America by the Vietnam War uncovers what appears to be the deliberate yet unconscious use of southern Civil War memory in a time of national identity crisis. He follows that up with a comparison of Faulkner's appropriation of Caribbean memory in Absalom, Absalom! and Madison Smartt Bell's in his trilogy on Toussaint Louverture and the Haitian revolution.

Finally, Kreyling examines some new manifestations of southern memory, including science fiction as embodied in Octavia Butler's novel Kindred, "mockumentary" in Kevin Willmott's film C.S.A., and postmodern cinema parody in Lars Von Trier's Manderlay.

Lively and frequently confrontational, The South That Wasn't There offers a thought-provoking reexamination of our literary conceptions about the South.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807136485
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Series: Southern Literary Studies
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Kreyling, professor of English at Vanderbilt University, is the author of several books, including Author and Agent: Eudora Welty and Diarmuid Russell and Inventing Southern Literature, and co-editor (with Richard Ford) of the Library of America's two volumes of Eudora Welty's works.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

Memory, Culture, Identity 1

1 "Something of an Obstacle"

Remembering Slavery in Morrison's Beloved 18

2 Robert Penn Warren

The Real Southerner and the "Hypothetical Negro" 49

3 Arms and the Man

Southern Honor and the Memory of Vietnam 76

4 Haiti

Phantom Southern Memory in Faulkner and Madison Smartt Bell 117

5 Parody, Memory, and Copyright

The Southern Memory Market 149

6 Nostalgia, Alternate History, and the Future of Southern Memory 176

Notes 195

Works Cited 207

Index 219

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