472 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 11 illus., notes, bibl., index
New Directions in Southern Studies
Geographies of Race, Region, and Literature
In this innovative approach to southern literary cultures, Thadious Davis analyzes how black southern writers use their spatial location to articulate the vexed connections between society and environment, particularly under segregation and its legacies.
Basing her analysis on texts by Ernest Gaines, Richard Wright, Alice Walker, Natasha Trethewey, Olympia Vernon, Brenda Marie Osbey, Sybil Kein, and others, Davis reveals how these writers reconstitute racial exclusion as creative black space, rather than a site of trauma and resistance. Utilizing the social and political separation epitomized by segregation to forge a spatial and racial vantage point, Davis argues, allows these writers to imagine and represent their own subject matter and aesthetic concerns.
Focusing particularly on Louisiana and Mississippi, Davis deploys new geographical discourses of space to expand analyses of black writers' relationship to the South and to consider the informing aspects of spatial narratives on their literary production. She argues that African American writers not only are central to the production of southern literature and new southern studies, but also are crucial to understanding the shift from modernism to postmodernism in southern letters. A paradigm-shifting work, Southscapes restores African American writers to their rightful place in the regional imagination, while calling for a more inclusive conception of region.
"[A] complex and engaging work."
"Thadious Davis's Southscapes will be hailed as a paradigm shift in both southern and African American studies. Her call for a more inclusive conception of the South could not be timelier. Employing a sophisticated critical arsenal drawn from spatial and geographic scholarship, Davis maps a new terrain for the study of both canonical and newly prominent writers, especially poets. Southscapes will lead to previously unsuspected approaches to southern culture and to a sense of excitement about the new horizons of perception Davis so brilliantly reveals."
--John W. Lowe, Louisiana State University, editor of Bridging Southern Cultures: An Interdisciplinary Approach
"Bold, brilliant, and beautifully written, Thadious Davis's Southscapes is a monumental accomplishment. Within these pages, Davis, one of our most insightful and important literary scholars, is historian and theorist, critic and poet. She engages contemporary cultural geography, the new southern studies, and African American literary studies to produce a work that will transform our thinking about all three. Along the way, she insists that we reconsider the South as the place from which African Americans have asserted their claims as citizens and as subjects, and that we situate black southern writers at the very center of all analyses of southern writing and culture, both in its local and global contexts. In so doing, she makes clear the long-standing and ongoing lacunae in scholarship about the region. An original and magnificent contribution, Southscapes is sure to define the way we think about the South and southern writing for years to come." Griffin, professor of English and comparative literature and African-American studies, Columbia University
Griffin, professor of English and comparative literature and African-American studies, Columbia University
"In this expansive book, Thadious Davis reminds us that politics, culture, and history grow literally from the ground up. This is starkly apparent in the world of the South, dependent as it has been on the placement--both geographical and existential--of bodies by that most physical of markers, race."
--Henry Louis Gates Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University
"How fitting that a book fundamentally about space is itself so roomy and expansive. While finely attending to the intimate particulars of a complex and irreducible region, Southscapes ranges over a vast stretch of territory, within and far beyond Mississippi and Louisiana. This truly elegant book should be read by all who would understand the persistence of race in ordering and delimiting space, 'place,' and social practice. Southscapes redraws the map of the 'new' southern studies, extending its reach in infinite directions."
--Deborah McDowell, Alice Griffin Professor of English, University of Virginia
© 2012 The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
How to Order | Make a Gift | Privacy