Title

A Shared Resilience in Contemporary Southern Literature: Dorothy Allison's Bastard Out of Carolina and Robin Boylorn's Sweetwater: Black Women and Tales of Resilience

Date of Award

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Legacy Department

English

Committee Member

Dr. Megan Eatman, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Garry Bertholf

Committee Member

Dr. Cameron Bushnell

Abstract

As literary scholars, Southern Literature as we know it today needs to be all-inclusive of its people - all genders and all races. The South offers a most unique blend of colorful people that share a deep scar of a past full of injustices; however, it is through the richness in women writers' descriptions of the South and phenomenal characters with very realistic lives and circumstances that we can recognize many similarities of resilience and struggles with that identity and its daily attributes. In exploring the idea of a intercultural or intersection of Southern women and their lives, I want to examine two Southern works from contemporary female authors--the auto/ethnography of women in her North Carolina community, Robyn Boylorn's Sweetwater: Black Women and Narratives of Resistance and the award-winning autobiographical novel, Bastard Out of Carolina, by Dorothy Allison, situated in upstate South Carolina. Each work exemplifies heroic written efforts to show a resistance against societal norms, female oppression and violence, and the struggles of identity for women of all races in the South. Each writer has a certain "otherness" that they identify with. For Boylorn, it might be the African American oppression and for Allison, an Appalachian or "White-Trash" stereotype. Groups that are regularly seen as "other" or as "different" are not as well represented or scholarly appreciated in the humanities. If we explore the written words of women that have been traditionally oppressed, lived in poverty, and typically seen as outcasts or "others" in our Southern history, we might find similar threads of resilience and strengths in the female characters that would benefit the telling of a history.

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