Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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Date of Award

Spring 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of English


David Jeffrey

Jean W. Cash


“The Rough South and New Southern Studies: Crossroads and Constellations” examines fiction by writers of the Rough South and interrogates the inadequate state of criticism on these working-class authors in New Southern Studies. New Southern Studies seeks to de-marginalize the South and to combat a sense of inferiority or irrelevancy in a multicultural and increasingly globalized world; but in this process, New Southern Studies has actually marginalized the region’s most vibrant form of contemporary fiction—Rough South literature. This marginalization springs partly from class-based prejudice, and partly from a concern that the Rough South is too provincial for New Southern Studies. Rough South fiction is not, however, as at odds with the concerns of New Southern Studies as may initially seem; serious scholars of the Rough South will find that its fiction opens dialogue rather than closing it. “The Rough South and New Southern Studies: Crossroads and Constellations” is an effort to open such dialogue, challenge class-based stereotypes, and validate study of Rough South fiction in academia. Chapter one studies the impact of stereotypes on interpretation Rough South literature by analyzing the tension between Harry Crews’s public and private personas. Chapter two focuses on the social implications of Rough South literature’s treatment of class by investigating Larry Brown’s use of social realism in Joe, a novel that compels readers to “peer over the edge” and acknowledge the appalling reality and prevalence of poverty in contemporary society (Joe 183). Finally, chapter three puts New Southern Studies and Rough South literature in conversation by finding parallels between William Gay’s Provinces of Night and trending topics in Southern criticism, particularly regarding time and historical memory as conceived of by Walter Benjamin.

Available for download on Friday, April 26, 2019