From the Editor:

Oh, how the South is changing. A few weeks ago I went to Milledgeville, Georgia to give a lecture on Flannery O’Connor at Georgia College and State University. During a very enjoyable weekend, I visited the O’Connor farm, Andalusia, which when O’Connor lived there was four miles outside the edge of town. That was then. Now the O’Connor farm is almost in town, at least in terms of the businesses that are making their way out the highway that one turns off onto to the O’Connor property. Right across the road from the entrance to Andalusia sit two national-chain hotels. Bordering one side is property up for sale for development; beyond that, sits a new Super Wal-Mart that, well, is just booming away, twenty-four hours a day. You can still sit on the wonderful O’Connor porch with its wonderful rockers, but in some ways things seem a bit off, a bit skewed.

That said, I’ve heard nothing but good things about the conference in Chapel Hill. I couldn’t be there—I was celebrating my mother’s 90th birthday—but I’m hoping to be there next time. Thanks to all who helped organize and run the shindig.

And thanks to this year’s Assistant Editors’Christopher Howland and Betsy Wood for their excellent work in putting out the
Newsletter. They were both superb, handling things responsibly and creatively, a good mix.

Comments about the Newsletter are always welcome and appreciated. And so are contributions. Write us at [email protected].

Hope this academic year has been good to all. And I hope that the summer goes well, too.

Bob Brinkmeyer


A Message from the SSSL President:

This year’s biennial conference, held March 26-28 in Chapel Hill, was the biggest SSSL conference ever, reflecting the steadily growing interest in and participation by faculty and graduate students in southern studies nationwide. Bryan Sinche, my research assistant here at Carolina and my co-conspirator in organizing the conference, tells me that some 220 people registered for the conference, not to mention local walk-ins and walk- ons who attended various plenary events. Scott Romine, who did a magnificent job in chairing the program committee of Joe Flora, Trudier Harris, and Fred Hobson (applause, please), says that more than 160 proposals for papers and sessions were sent to him, from which he put together a final program comprising 54 sessions, which started at 12:30 on Friday afternoon with Bill Ferris’s kick-off presentation and ended with a fourth plenary session, a joint poetry reading by Betty Adcock and Michael McFee, at 12:30 on Sunday afternoon. All these impressive numbers, along with conference receipts (which indicate that the 2004 conference will run in the black), should give everyone involved in putting on the conference a good deal of satisfaction.

If you attended the conference, I’m interested in knowing your response to the program. This is the first year I can remember an SSSL conference beginning on Friday afternoon and ending around noon on Sunday, instead of running from Thursday through Saturday. I had several reasons for initiating this shift in timing, among them a desire not to have the conference conflict with members’ Thursday teaching commitments. I’d like to know if the Friday-Sunday schedule worked a hardship or proved advantageous to attenders of the conference.

I hope the theme of the conference, Place, Grace, and Race in Southern Literature, provided some useful touchstones for our discussions, while also allowing for plenty of variety among the papers presented. Our plenary speakers were all from the greater UNC axis, but drawing on local literary talent as our conferences move through different parts of the South seems a good (and cost-effective) way to sample the best of our writers.

Do you feel the breadth of southern literature was adequately represented by the sessions held at the conference? Scott and his committee constructed the program largely out of what the membership proposed for it. But as Jeffrey Richards pointed out to me toward the end of the conference, early southern literature ended up with only one session. Other attenders may have noticed additional subjects, writers, or traditions that were under- represented at the conference. Jeffrey is at work on ways to increase the participation of early Americanists at our next conference in 2006. If you feel that more needs to be done by 2006 to augment the attention given to other facets of southern literature, please let me know.

To all who participated in the 2004 conference, thank you very much. Next year’s SSSL president, Bob Phillips, will be pleased to see each of you, and more, at the 2006 conference, which looks like it’s going to be held in Birmingham.

Bill Andrews

UNC-Chapel Hill


Conflict in Southern Writing Conference
Date: September 23-25, 2004
Location: Troy State University Campus
Website: http: //
Areas: History, Journalism, Traditional Literary Genres (novel, short story, poetry, drama)
Plenary Speakers: Sena Jeter Naslund, Wade Hall Guest Writers: Betty Baye, Stephen Cushman, Tom Franklin

Deadline: June 1, 2004

Special sessions on Zora Neale Hurston and Sena Jeter Naslund. Send abstracts of 250 words or less. Electronic submissions are preferred.

Dr. Ben P. Robertson
Conflict in Southern Writing Conference Troy State University, Department of English Troy, Alabama 36082
Email: [email protected]

Cormac McCarthy Conference
25th Anniversary Suttree Celebration Date: October 14-17, 2004
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Website: Suttree2004.htm
Guest Speakers: Noel Polk, Peter Josyph Deadline: June 1, 2004

Proposals may be sent to:

The Cormac McCarthy Society Suttree Conference Committee 13850 SW 100th Avenue Miami, Florida 33176

Email: [email protected]

Midwest Modern Language Association Date: November 4-7, 2004
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Website: Theme: 20th-Century Regionalism Deadline: April 25, 2004

This special session will confront reigning critical assumptions about regional narratives, namely that they promote unproductive parochialism in an age of globalization. Addressing a cluster of twentieth- century fiction, participants will present: 1) readings of twentieth-century regional fiction, including “canonical” fiction or fiction not commonly considered regional, 2) analyses of cultural or institutional phenomena that shape regionalism, and/ or 3) arguments regarding aesthetic and/or ideological debates relative to regionalism.

Please send 300-word abstracts on any aspect of twentieth-century regionalism to Jason Arthur, [email protected].

Southern Writers Symposium
Date: February 26-27, 2005
Location: Methodist College
Website: Theme: History in/and/of Southern Literature Deadline: October 15, 2004

We invite proposals exploring the relationship between history, especially southern history, and southern literature. For more information, contact:

Emily Wright
English Department/Methodist College 5400 Ramsey St.
Fayetteville, North Carolina 28311 Email: [email protected]

Anna Julia Cooper in and of the South

At the recent conference in Chapel Hill, a session that stood out to me as particularly vital and vibrant was the roundtable discussion “Teaching Race and Southern Writing.” Chaired by current Society president William Andrews, the session featured opening remarks by Trudier Harris and Michael Kreyling, who spoke in part to how their respective positions in the classroom—as professor, as black woman or white man—influenced the discourse on race in the classroom. Then specifically linking race and Southern literature, Professor Harris made this important comment: For black writers, the South is “white.”

Of the many dimensions that contribute to Professor Harris’s point, for my purposes I’ll highlight two. First, Southern literary studies itself was defended for many years by some critics as a “white” field, largely because writing by African Americans, especially prior to the 1960s, was deemed by those critics to be of social rather than literary importance, a position long since abandoned for reasons both too numerous and well known to cite here. Second, and especially pertinent to Professor Harris’s comment, the South as region has so often been a “white” construction, derived from the fact that the white community has historically been the holder of political and economic power, legally sanctioned for most of the South’s past and socially enforced even after such legal sanctions were struck down. These two factors combined, even without others that could be listed, indicate why for black writers the South would be “white.”

What I want to point toward, however, is what Professor Harris’s comment might have led to under different circumstances, in another session: If the South is white for black writers, what that does not mean is that such writers with strong ties to the region necessarily wholly reject identification with the region or accept a position as outsider to it or simply protest the notion—or reality—of the South as white. Another response it gives rise to is one that incorporates the need not only to critique the white South and even the idea of the South as white but also to revise what is the South. And to my mind, this response is part of the reason that writing by black Southerners is such a crucial component of anything we might call Southern literature. The value I think of homing in on this response is that it suggests yet another way of expanding our “canon” of Southern writers, and one that is especially fruitful, for it clears a space for voices not always fully incorporated in our notions of “Southernness,” voices that demand we recognize the many ways in which the meaning of the South has been and continues to be contested by the region’s writers. It is one of those voices that I have been asked to address briefly here—Anna Julia Cooper, the essayist and educator known today primarily for her contributions to the black feminist movement, but whose “Southernness” receives little scholarly notice.

To be sure, important work on Cooper has appeared within the last 5-7 years, notably that which puts her voice in dialogue with W. E. B. Du Bois’s and continues to explore her contributions to black feminist theory. And I was delighted to be asked to contribute a piece on Cooper to Carolyn Perry and Mary Louise Weaks’s History of Southern Women’s Literature (2002), a volume that addresses briefly the issue of Cooper and the South in a couple of other places as well. But I can’t help but think that there is much more to be done by those of us in Southern studies with the writings of a woman who spent over 90 years of her life living below the Mason-Dixon line and who in her most widely read work, A Voice from the South, identifies herself on her book’s title page as “a Black Woman of the South” and in one of that book’s essays allows that her critical stance on Southern women—which by context most certainly means white Southern women—must be allowed since she is herself a “Southern woman.” What those two moves bring to the fore is a response to the South that is complex and ambivalent and, it seems to me, at the heart of Southern literature. Also, the additional essays and previously unpublished papers and correspondence now readily available by way of Charles Lemert and Esme Bhan’s 1998 volume The Voice of Anna Julia Cooper make it possible to trace out more fully how she positioned herself in relation to region throughout her life. For example, in those papers, Cooper explains her focus on the South: “it is there that the millions of blacks in this country have watered the soil with blood and tears, and it is there too that the black woman has made her characteristic history, and there her destiny is evolving” (202). That Cooper saw the South as the place of history and destiny for “the black woman” boldly challenges the South as “white” even as it acknowledges it as a place of pain.

Cooper’s approach to region—ambivalence leading to a move toward claiming it—is one that is repeated throughout the twentieth century, in the work especially of other black women writers with strong ties to the South—Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Childress, Alice Walker, and others. To place Cooper alongside these writers suggests new ways of looking at her work and stresses its importance as we continue to define and redefine the South and its literature. These are women who have said, even in the face of a South constructed as “white,” that they are Southern, and it is incumbent upon us as scholars and teachers of Southern literature to explore and understand what that means.

Roberta S. Maguire

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh


JOURNAL ARTICLES American Literature

Wilson, Sarah. “‘Fragmentary and Inconclusive’ Violence: National History and Literary Form in The Professor’s House.” 75.3 (2003): 571-600.

Lee, Maurice S. “Absolute Poe: His System of Transcendental Racism.” 75.4 (2003): 751-82.

Nerad, Julie Cary. “Slippery Language and False Dilemmas: The Passing Novels of Child, Howells, and Harper.” 75.4 (2003): 813-42.

American Quarterly

Apel, Dora. “On Looking: Lynching Photographs and Legacies of Lynching after 9/11.” 55.3 (2003): 457-78.

Dorsey, Peter A. “To ‘Corroborate Our Own Claims’: Public Positioning and the Slavery Metaphor in Revolutionary America.” 55.3 (2003): 353-86.

Jay, Gregory. “White Out: Race and Nationalism in American Studies.” 55.4 (2003): 781-95.

Van Wienen, Mark W. “A Rose by Any Other Name: Charlotte Perkins Stetson (Gilman) and the Case for American Reform Socialism.” 55.4 (2003): 603-34.

Wald, Gayle. “From Spirituals to Swing: Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Gospel Crossover.” 55.3 (2003): 387-416.

Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction

Costello, Brannon. “Poor White Trash, Great White Hope: Race, Class, and the (De)Construction of Whiteness in Lewis Nordan’s Wolf Whistle.” 45.2 (2004): 207-23.

Mississippi Quarterly

Claxton, Mae Miller. “‘Untamable Texts’: The Art of Georgia O’Keeffe and Eudora Welty.” 56.2 (2003): 315-30.

Harrison, Suzan. “Playing with Fire: Women’s Sexuality and Artistry in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway and Eudora Welty’s The Golden Apples.” 56.2 (2003): 289-314.

Johnston, Carol Ann. “Sex and the Southern Girl: Eudora Welty’s Critical Legacy.” 56.2 (2003): 269-88.

Mark, Rebecca. “Wild Strawberries, Cataracts, and Climbing Roses: Clitoral and Seminal Imagery in The Optimist’s Daughter.” 56.2 (2003): 331-50.

Nissen, Axel. “Queer Welty, Camp Welty.” 56.2 (2003): 209-30.

Trouard, Dawn. “Burying Below Sea Level: The Erotics of Sex and Death in The Optimist’s Daughter.” 56.2 (2003): 231-50.

Wolff, Sally. “‘How Babies Could Come’ and ‘How They Could Die’: Eudora Welty’s Children and the Dark Cradle.” 56.2 (2003): 251-68.

The Sewanee Review

Cox, James M. “Reflections on Lewis P. Simpson.” 111.2 (2003): 321-23.

The Southern Quarterly

Hailey, Charlie. “Southern Camp (sites): Florida’s Vernacular Spaces from John Ruskin to the Tin Can Tourists of the World.” 42.1 (2003): 75-96.

Hedrick, Tace. “Blood-Lines that Waver South: Hybridity, the ‘South,’ and American Bodies.” 42.1 (2003): 39-52.

Martinez, Maria del Carmen. “Mothers Mild and Monstrous: Familial Metaphors and the Elian Gonzalez Case.” 42.1 (2003): 22-38.

Mizrach, Steven. “The North in the South: Southern Florida as a Northern Colony.” 42.1 (2003): 11- 21.

Ventura, Patricia. “Learning from Globalization-Era Las Vegas.” 42.1 (2003): 97-112.

Wells, Jeremy. “Up from Savagery: Booker T. Washington and the Civilizing Mission.” 42.1 (2003): 53-74.

The Southern Review


Arnold, Edwin T. “Unruly Ghost: Erskine Caldwell at 100.” 39.4 (2003): 851-68.

Bates, Milton J. “Pain is Human: Wallace Stevens at Ground Zero.” 39.1 (2003): 168-80.

Harris, Webb. “Habergeons, Victuals, and Wizards that Peep: Travels with the King James Bible.” 39.1 (2003): 181-97.


Smith, Jon, ed. Rethinking the United States South. Special issue, Forum for Modern Language Studies, Vol. XL, Number 2, University of St. Andrews. Oxford UP, 2004.


Smith, Jon. “Introduction.” 121-25.

Richardson, Riche. “‘A House Set Off From the Rest’: Ralph Ellison’s Rural Geography.” 126-44.

Barnett, Pamela E. “James Dickey’s Deliverance: Southern, White, Suburban Male Nightmare or Dream Come True?” 145-59.

Handley, George B. “Oedipus in the Americas: Lone Star and the Reinvention of American Studies.” 160- 81.

Waligora-Davis, Nicole A. “The Ghetto: Illness and the Formation of the ‘Suspect’ in American Polity.” 182-203.

Malena, Anne. “Louisiana: A Colonial Space of Translation.” 204-13.

Yousaf, Nahem and Sharon Monteith. “Making an Impression: New Immigrant Fiction in the

For the Next Issue . . .

Trethewey, Eric. “Walking Home.” 39.1 (2003): 198-208.

Tell your story. In an essay of up to ords, write about how you first Virginia Quarterly Review Contemporary South.” 214-24.


became interested in Southern literature. What Southeauthor or
work first excited, troubled, or otherwGiesrehaerdnt,gCahgreisytioneu.?“MHaonwagihngasthye oWuilrderness: Walt

Whitman’s Southern Landscapes.” 225-35.

reading, teaching, writing, or understanding of Southern literature

Bond, Julian. “Interview with Oliver W. Hill.” 80.1

(2004): 3-9.

changed over time?

Eaton, Susan EP. “leBaroswens’seFnadinrteRsepvoivnasl.e”s80b.y1 (e2m00a4)i:l to [email protected] by March 15,
16-27. Newsletters? If so, let us hear from you!

2003. Be sure to include your name, title, and university affiliation.

Morrison, Toni. “The Journey to School Integration.” 80.1 (2004): 3-8.

We welcome your ideas and suggestions for the Newsletter, and we thank all those who have contributed to past issues. What would you like to see in future issues? We are especially interested in articles, essays, book reviews—any piece of writing you’d like to submit for consideration. Just drop us a line at the University of Arkansas, Kimpel Hall 333, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701, or email us at [email protected].

Do you have ideas for future


The Richard Beale Davis Award is given to celebrate a lifetime of distinguished service to the study of southern literature. Louis D. Rubin, Jr. accepted this award on March 26, 2004 at the SSSL conference in Chapel Hill. Rubin delivered the following speech and then read from the ending of his book, Small Craft Advisory (see page 10).

I thank you for this award, the more so because it bears the name of an old friend and fellow conspirator. At least as gratifying is the very fact that these meetings are being held, thirty-five years after the Society was founded.

You might be interested in how it began. It began with a checklist. In 1967 when I moved from Hollins College to Chapel Hill, I was brought up against the fact that in the field of graduate study I was about to teach, Southern literature, there was no bibliographical compilation available. So I threw one together, typed it out, and had it photocopied. Back then I was an amateur printer, and I set into type and printed up a properly gaudy front cover, entitling it The New Southern Argonaut: or, Bibliographies Burden and Checklists Culled. It was at best a flimsy stopgap, with numerous inaccuracies and omissions. During its compilation it became obvious that something was needed that would be considerably more complete and authoritative, So I enlisted the help of various scholars in the field, and the result was A Bibliographical Guide to the Study of Southern Literature, which appeared in 1969 with the Louisiana State University Press (and committed a number of new inaccuracies in its own right).

The response that I got when I began writing around to invite people to contribute the various parts of the Bibliographical Guide was so enthusiastic that that the idea came that it might be useful to form an ongoing scholarly group that among other things could maintain an annual checklist and keep track of where Southern literature was being taught, where conferences were being held, and so on. So I printed up an invitation to meet at the next SAMLA in Atlanta. I mailed it to about a dozen friends. I believe this was in the fall of 1968, though I couldn’t swear to it. Nor can I remember everyone who was present, but in any event the only ones there who didn’t like the idea were the South Carolina people. So we set up an organizational session for the next year’s SAMLA, which would be meeting in Florida, I don’t recall just where, it may have been Orlando. The LSU Press and I had never gotten around actually to drawing up a contract for the Bibliographical Guide, even though by then it was already well into the proof stage, so in order that the new society would have some financial resources to start out with, the contract was written to provide that the royalties would be turned over to the Society.

So the SSSL materialized out of a checklist, rather than vice-versa. That was in 1969. When the other day I was sent a copy of the program for this conference, I looked through it, noted the nine sessions, 54 panels, assorted readings and functions, etc., and all I could think was, Good God!

So much has happened since then. Of the first six presidents, I’m the only one still alive, and I don’t feel so well myself. Fashions in scholarship and critical attitudes have altered. For example: along about 1970 or so, Hugh Holman and I had a much-publicized debate at the MLA in Chicago over whether Mark Twain was or was not importantly a Southern writer. Can you imagine anyone questioning that now?

Well, I won’t get involved in any of the more recent topics of disputation. I was struck, looking through the topics and titles in the program, at how very few of the issues that we used to consider controversial and important are still bring fought over. I won’t claim that we resolved any of those issues, and I think that maybe we did move them a little farther down the line. And that, I suppose, is about all that could be asked of what General McClellan once described as sore-tongued and fatigued horses —— and men. Thank you again.



Note: This section is short because we only received one announcement. Don’t forget to let us know about your books, articles, awards, presentations, or other distinctions!

Choice, a publication of the Association of College & Research Libraries, has named Anthony Szczesiul’s book, Racial Politics and Robert Penn Warren’s Poetry (UP of Florida, 2002), as one of its Outstanding Academic Titles of 2003. Choice publishes its list annually in its January issue, and titles are chosen from all books reviewed by Choice during the previous calendar year.

From the Epilogue of Louis Rubin’s Small Craft Advisory (1991)

I did not take the Algonquin down the Intracoastal Waterway after all. It was not merely that I was busy, and that to go and to return would have required at least several weeks. It was that there was no longer any reason to do so. I did not make the trip home in the Algonquin because I had already made it in my imagination, by writing this book.

Certainly I could have taken the Algonquin down the Waterway, through abandoned rice fields and behind the barrier islands—Bull, Dewee’s, the Isle of Palms, Sullivan’s—into Charleston Harbor, made my way up the Ashley River and gone looking for the location of the creek that once led through the marsh to the little dock at the shore behind Sans Souci. The creek mouth itself would be there no more, of course, because the river bottom had been dredged several years before we moved away in 1942, when I was eighteen years old, and islands of sand created all along the river’s edge had sealed off the entrance. Yet I could have found the approximate position where the creek had once flowed into the river. Had I found it, however, what I would have seen was not what I was looking for, for what I sought could never have been found on a journey aboard a boat to a place where I had lived when I was young.

No doubt I could have looked through binoculars at the shore from the river, peered through the oak trees along the bluff, and caught sight of the porch of what had once been our house; it is still there. What I could not have seen was my mother as she stood on that porch and watched anxiously for her son, who could not swim, as he went out upon the surface of the river in a clumsy, leaking little boat. I could not have seen her, because I would have been looking in the wrong place. I would have been looking outward, at things—the marsh, the trees, a bluff, a roof, a porch—instead of inward, at meanings. All that I now required was available within me as memory. It was through memory that the pathway existed; I would mistakenly have been seeking it in a physical, geographical place, had I been so foolish as to make the trip for the purpose I had originally intended.

Paradoxically, the very mortality that bears each of us along to a finite conclusion also gives us, through its unfolding, the means to repossess what we believe we have lost. It is in memory, given its true shape through the imagination, that we can truly possess our lives, if we will only strive to regain them. And by this I imply no Proustian notion that art is the sole reality, unless by “art” is meant the working of the imagination upon intelligence, an activity that is by no means limited to those who style themselves “artists.” The latter, if sufficiently talented, can leave behind them magnificent records of what they possessed, but it is in the ongoing process of repossession itself, not the record that may or may not be left for others to read or hear or see, that we make sense of our experience and come to see it for what it really is: the shape of Time.

Such a process can take many forms. Common to all of them, however, is the use of our imagination to interpret what our memory offers for interpretation. We are our memory. Truly to possess what we are, we must uncover it, which means looking at the images thrown up for us to see, searching for the emotions that these embody, and tracing out the relationships that fuse them into the single entity that we comprise—an entity that time has arranged for us.

It was by having the boat built that I was able to undertake the process. That was my way of doing it. Others may choose—or more accurately, be impelled by—different ways, since there are as many ways of doing it as there are people to undertake the task. Nor is it even necessary that the process be thought of as a process; what it involves is what matters.

I do, however, intend to make the trip to Charleston—the actual trip, down the Intracoastal Waterway with the boat, to the harbor and city and river—someday soon. I will make it not to recover meanings and emotions that no such trip in itself can recover, but for its own sake, in the boat that Clem Willis built for me, made of wood on a workboat hull, named for a certain steamship that my mother took me to see when it brought my father home, long ago in the early morning.

~ Louis D. Rubin, Jr.

From “Epilogue,” Small Craft Advisory. New York: Atlantic Monthly P, 1991.

To Become a Member Or Renew Membership:

Print off and fill out this page, include a check for $10 made out to the Society for the Study of Southern Literature, and send your request to Jeff Abernathy, Vice President forAcademic Affairs, West Virginia Wesleyan College, 59 College Ave., Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201.

Name: ________________________________ Affiliation: _______________________________ Email: __________________________
Mailing Address: ______________________________________________________

______________________________________________________ Amount Enclosed: __________

For Inclusion in the Upcoming SSSL Newsletter:

Please submit responses to the following questionnaire to:

Dr. Robert Brinkmeyer, SSSLN Editor Department of English, University of Arkansas 333 Kimpel Hall, Fayetteville, AR 72701

Or E-mail to: [[email protected]]

DEADLINE FOR FALL 2004 ISSUE: September 15, 2004

Please include your name and affiliation. Submit information in any of the following categories. Please use a separate sheet.

  • News items from SSSL president, officers, panel organizers
  • Books or articles published recently (please provide complete citation)
  • Teaching Southern literature—special notices
  • Requests for information
  • Awards or other distinctions
  • Calls for papers
  • News of graduate studies
  • Other items of interest to SSSL membersIf you are organizing a panel for upcoming conferences/symposia, please provide complete information.

Time to Renew Your Membership?

In order to remain current and continue receiving your SSSL Newsletter, please fill out and return the form on page 11 today! Also, be sure to renew your membership dues.


Please send your new address to
Jeff Abernathy, vice-president for Academic Affairs, West Virginia Wesleyan College, 59 College Avenue, Buckhannon, West Virginia 26201.
email: [email protected]

Department of English, University of Arkansas Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Editor

Society for the Study of Southern Literature Newsletter Kimpel Hall 333
Fayetteville, AR 72701