Self Labor: Work as Identity in the Contemporary Southern Novel

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Self Labor: Work as Identity in the Contemporary Southern Novel

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dc.contributor.advisor Suarez, Ernest en_US Jacobe, Monica F. en_US
dc.contributor.other Johnson, Glen M en_US
dc.contributor.other Ward, Pamela en_US 2012-09-11T17:08:20Z 2012-09-11T17:08:20Z 2010 en_US 2012-09-11
dc.identifier.other Jacobe_cua_0043A_10126 en_US
dc.description Degree awarded: Ph.D. English Language and Literature. The Catholic University of America en_US
dc.description This dissertation can be viewed by CUA users only. en_US
dc.description.abstract The search for identity has long been a central theme of Southern novels, and critics of American literature often group the interplay among the individual, the region's history, and the physical landscape as key elements when writing about the South and its literary landscape. This dissertation examines the ways that authors working in the second half of the twentieth century seek meaning for their characters' journeys in light of both the historical and literary legacies left to them by American history and Southern writers. Specifically, four writers publishing extensively in the second half of the twentieth century are brought together by a common and uniting factor: for each, the personal agency created by individual work and work life is the catalyst for transformation in the journeys of their protagonists and remains so across their literary careers to date. Walker Percy, Ernest Gaines, Gail Godwin, and Alice Walker are markedly different Southern writers with careers that span the final decades of the twentieth century and established places in scholarly and popular conversations about Southern literature. By using them to ask why this one element of narrative identity--among so many that rise inherently from the region--plays this key role, this study reaffirms the work of earlier criticism but goes beyond it, revealing that, just as Faulkner and others felt the need to explain the South's past, contemporary writers feel the urge to explain how and why they are moving beyond that past--both physical and literary--to a place where the region is defined by the people who live and work in it, not the other way around. This commonality evidenced in the novels of all four writers featured here is used to argue that contemporary Southern fiction is, collectively, reversing the Faulknerian tropes that defined region, privileging history and family legacy above the individual, and becoming a body of literature about the individual existing within the region and defining the self at first conflicted about, then in resistance to, and, finally, in absence of the definition of the American South created by the region's history and literature. en_US
dc.format.extent 206 p. en_US
dc.format.mimetype application/pdf en_US
dc.language eng en_US
dc.publisher The Catholic University of America en_US
dc.subject Literature, American en_US
dc.subject.other Alice Walker en_US
dc.subject.other American South en_US
dc.subject.other Contemporary Novel en_US
dc.subject.other Ernest Gaines en_US
dc.subject.other Gail Godwin en_US
dc.subject.other Walker Percy en_US
dc.title Self Labor: Work as Identity in the Contemporary Southern Novel en_US
dc.type Text en_US
dc.type Dissertation en_US

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