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Title:Politics From the Pedestal: Modernity, Cultural Intervention, and the Myth of *Southern Womanhood, 1920--1945
Author(s):Lewis, Nghana Tamu
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Baym, Nina
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Women's Studies
Abstract:How has the myth of Southern Womanhood been central to white southern women writers who had strong roots in plantation culture? What did white southern women writers contribute to the emergence of the Southern (literary) Renaissance around 1920? How did these writers respond to the mass northern migration, upward social mobility and increased intellectual and cultural activity of black southern Americans during the 1920s? How did the industrializing and urbanizing of the South in the mid-late 1930s and 1940s, with its concomitant formation of a sizable working class, manifest itself in their works? What roles did white southern women imagine for themselves at the outset of the southern Civil Rights Movement around 1945? And what are the thematic, technical, and ideological coordinates that connect and distinguish the fiction of white southern-born women throughout this period? In response to these queries, Politics from the Pedestal: Modernity, Cultural Intervention, and the Myth of Southern Womanhood, 1920--1945, links various strands in modern literary and cultural studies to the narrative techniques and rhetorical strategies of Gwen Bristow (1903--1980), Willa Cather (1873--1947), Caroline Gordon (1895--1981), Julia Peterkin (1880--1961) and Lillian Smith (1897--1966). Illustrating the complex relationship between, on the one hand, narrative and, on the other, the racial, sexual, and class politics of the myth of Southern Womanhood, the study hypothesizes that these writers appropriated the construct to respond to pivotal modern developments and movements including the Harlem Renaissance, the Agrarian Movement, and the Southern Civil Rights Movement, that directly bore upon their status as white southern-born aristocratic women. The thesis explores the broad implications of these writers' construction, negotiation, and affirmation of the myth's political authority beyond domestic and missionary sites in both modern and postmodern cultural contexts.
Issue Date:2001
Description:369 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2001.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3023120
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2001

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