Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Steven Reich

Michael Gubser

Kristen McCleary

Brooks Hefner


This thesis examines the intersection of literature and historical memory, focusing on William Faulkner’s literature and the construction of memory and identity in the 1920s-1930s American South. Understanding the basic objective of memory as using the past to consolidate a social consciousness rooted in a shared identity and future, I examine how literature contributes to and enriches this process. I argue that because memory is deeply embedded in the social frameworks of a population, and dependent on the population’s cultural, political, and social identity, it is a fundamental component of understanding cultural identity. By interpreting literature through the lens of historical memory, I explore how fiction – specifically novels – construct and perpetuate a perception of the world that has real consequences on the way people act and think. Through my research, I concluded that William Faulkner does not just write about the South and its past, but constructs a discourse for understanding the past through the lens of the present; his novels, therefore, serve as a site of memory and provide insight to the cultural webs in which they were produced.



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