Academic journal article The Southern Literary Journal

Y'all

Academic journal article The Southern Literary Journal

Y'all

Article excerpt

    A contraction.    An invitation (of sorts).    An indication that somewhere, someone is making community.  

The Urban Dictionary observes that the contraction of "you-all" (y'all) has its roots in the South, with its origin in Scottish-Irish lingua franca but its home on the tongues of African American communities.

Y'all is meant to indicate belonging; as a term of endearment, it outlines the better part of who we are to one another. Finding one's way to the feeling that the term inspires in southerners near and far is perhaps easy. Discovering a way out of its sometimes cloying stereotype, regional specificity, and propensity to split the North and South into ideologically opposed political entities is sometimes more trouble than it's worth.

This final cover of SLJ provides a historical spectrum of its visual history. Moving clockwise through almost 50 years of the journal's publication history, the cover takes us both toward and away from that South that so vexes us and provides the occasion for our current moment--the sense of an ending, the passing of the guard--all cliches gesturing toward the truth of endings and beginnings overall: they are sorely overrated. But cover art remains; it, at least, is not ephemeral. On the cover of the inaugural issue of SLJ (pictured top left), a colonial figure stands at the door of the "academy"--poised to take it by storm, if necessary It is work central to what we do. The third cover pictured (top right) is of a cabin--connoting those both enslaved and free--a ubiquitous, yet haunting presence in any southern landscape. …

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