Feminine Sense in Southern Memoir: Smith, Glasgow, Welty, Hellman, Porter, and Hurston


"Lillian Smith, Ellen Glasgow, Eudora Welty, Lillian Hellman, Katherine Anne Porter, and Zora Neale Hurston are distinctly varying and individual writers of the American South whose work is identified with the Southern Literary Renaissance. This intertextual study assesses their autobiographical writings and their intellectual stature as modern women of letters. It is the first to include these writers in the socio-history of modern southern feminism and the first to group them in the discourse of modern American liberalism. In the confessional tract Killers of the Dream (1949, 1961) Smith's focus upon ethics, racism, and sexism rather than upon conventional southern themes sharply disrupts the ideology of conservative forces in the mainstream of southern literary criticism. In Feminine Sense in Southern Memoir dominant themes from Smith's autobiography are synthesized as other liberal feminine voices in the chorus of southern memoirs examine norms of gender, problems of race, and patriarchal power structures. Ellen Glasgow's The Woman Within (1954) and Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings (1984) center on the woman writer's inner life and demonstrate the legitimacy of making this life the object of public attention. Lillian Hellman's Scoundrel Time (1976) and Katherine Anne Porter's The Never-Ending Wrong (1977) define the individual in conflict with reactionary forces in modern America. In Dust Tracks on a Road (1942, 1984) Zora Neale Hurston connects the problems of gender, region, nation, and race. By stressing the significance of a liberal tradition in southern women's autobiographical writings, Feminine Sense in Southern Memoir reconceptualizes the role of the southern woman of letters and her contributions to the literature of the modern South." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


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