Date of Award

5-2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

Committee Member

Keith Morris, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Andy Lemons

Committee Member

Nic Brown

Abstract

This dissertation traces the patterns in southern literature from the 1950s to 2019 that reveals a difference between an Old and New South that occurs circa 2000, when technology and urbanization was booming in the American south. However, it is important to note that it is not only the medium used to share works that is globalizing southern literature, but it is the way its writers have begun to break away from old tropes and traditions in the content of their writing. This pattern is best traced through the analysis of works by contemporary southern writers like Jill McCorkle, Randall Kenan, Karen Russell, and James Hannaham who, while setting their stories in the south, choose to steer away from southern tropes of the past and further the push for an open and honest society through their characters, establishing a bridge to connect with a wider audience and bring the old south into the twenty-first century. With this, these writers are contributing to a more global discussion of literature in a way that preserves the distinctly southern sense of place, while developing southern characters that often make forward-thinking decisions for the time in which their stories take place. This kind of writing works to fuel the idea that perhaps southerners are more socially and culturally aware than many non-southerners may think. Included in this project are samples of my own short stories that contribute to this literary movement toward the New South.

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