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Rooting Memory, Rooting Place: Regionalism in the Twenty-First-Century American South

Lloyd, Christopher. 2013. Rooting Memory, Rooting Place: Regionalism in the Twenty-First-Century American South. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Lewis Simpson first used the term ‘postsouthern’ to define the state of the American South in an era of postmodern capitalism. The recent swathe of transnational and transcultural theory has much bearing on this notion, as any questioning of the nation and its borders must have concomitant effects on those regions within it. The U.S. South is one such region that has long endured questioning of its contours, whether geographical, cultural, or ideological. Simpson’s ‘postsouth’ has gained much traction, influencing much critical writing that requires us to look to a deterritorialized global South.

My thesis interrupts this axiomatic view offering readings of various twenty-first-century cultural texts from the region as evidence of a more complex, and lingering regionalism that is surely not postsouthern. In the course of my readings, I utilize strands of cultural memory studies to anchor the varied texts to a particular place. I argue specifically for a ‘rooted’ and ‘placed’ dynamics of cultural memory (as working through texts), thus re-rooting and locating the South and its memory-work. The regional remembrance found across different media ballast my claims of a South far from disappearing.

In the first chapter I reveal how in two contemporary novels about slavery the institution’s potency in cultural memory continues to be worked through literary texts. In the second, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina is shown to reveal a very complex, yet nonetheless, regional biopolitical sphere of African-American life. Thirdly, I look to the Southern gothic and read Sally Mann’s photography through this genre lens to show the machinations of the Southern past working in the present. In the fourth chapter, I look to two novels that trace the very ubiquitous narrative of return to the South. My conclusion ties together the strands of thought that foreground bodies, memory, landscape and the very present past.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

American South; regionalism; cultural memory

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Date:

2013

Item ID:

10429

Date Deposited:

27 Jun 2014 13:37

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:59

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/10429

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