In After Southern Modernism (2000), Matthew Guinn notes that southern writers of the last thirty years have made a decisive break with the traditions and politics of 1930s Southern Renascence modernism. They are best understood, he argues, through their discontinuity rather than continuity with the region and cultures labeled as the South. This description suggests that there is no transitional moment between Renascence modernism and southern postmodernism. But what of the intervening postwar generation of Southern writers and intellectuals? Of them, Guinn says they exhibit “attenuated modernist techniques” that “tenuously” maintain the traditions of the Renascence.
This panel seeks to investigate modernism(s) of the postwar South. Like the authors Guinn addresses, key figures associated with the South were in some ways turning their interests elsewhere during this period: John Crowe Ransom’s Kenyon Review became nationally and internationally influential during this time. William Faulkner published A Fable (1954), which takes place in World War I France and wins national critical acclaim in the form of his first Pulitzer Prize. The New Criticism, driven by Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren among others, took literature departments by storm. Moreover, the anti-communism common among southern intellectuals became an asset to U.S. political interests in the early years of the Cold War, and as Leigh Anne Duck explains in The Nation’s Region (2006), “the idea of a distinct southern identity became popular among national elites as a ballast for an increasingly conformist and progress-oriented nation.” Does this South, constructed as a rampart from which to defend a national culture from consumerism and communism, comport with the Renascence modernism? If the late 1940s and 1950s are not an extension of Renascence modernism, what kind of modernism becomes prevalent, then? Are the formalist projects of the Agrarians-turned-New Critics an indicator of late modernism? Could postwar modernism or Cold War modernism be used to describe these developments in southern culture? And how could these modernisms be helpful in understanding perceived “southern” influences in popular culture, such as rock ‘n’ roll and country music, television, and film during this time?
Papers investigating modernism(s) in any aspect or form of postwar southern culture, especially at its intersections with national or global cultures, are welcome.
Please send proposed paper titles, 350-word abstracts, and a brief (2-3 sentence) scholarly biography to Jordan Dominy at email@example.com by May 1, 2008.
Department of English
University of Florida Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send comments and questions to H-Net
Webstaff. H-Net reproduces announcements that have been submitted to us as a
free service to the academic community. If you are interested in an announcement
listed here, please contact the organizers or patrons directly. Though we strive
to provide accurate information, H-Net cannot accept responsibility for the text of
announcements appearing in this service. (Administration)