Postsouthern cartographies : capital, land and place from 'The Moviegoer' to 'A man in full'
This thesis takes a historical-geographical materialist approach to the capitalist production and literary representation of "place" in the American South between the 1960s and 1990s. Part 1 provides literary-historical and theoretical context. Chapter 1 considers how the Agrarians and their literary critical acolytes defined the "sense of place" of "Southern literature." However, the chapter also recovers an aspect of Agrarianism suppressed by later Southern literary critics: the critique of modern (finance) capitalist abstraction expressed through the Agrarians' "proprietary ideal." Drawing also on postmodern theory, Chapter 2 theorises a postsouthern literary theory of place. Part 2 analyses the "postsouthern turn" in novels by Robert Penn Warren, Walker Percy and Richard Ford. Chapter 3 argues that, in A Place to Come to (1977), Warren interrogates his earlier Agrarian aesthetics of place. In Percy's The Moviegoer (1961), land speculator Binx Bolling constructs a rhetorical contrast between "the South" and "the North" to repress his fear that capitalist development is destroying New Orleans and its environs. Chapters 4 to 6 argue that, in A Piece of My Heart (1976), The Sportswriter (1986) and Independence Day (1995), Ford has offered the most sustained and sophisticated critique of the Southern literary critical "sense of place." Part 3 focuses uses upon recent literary representations of Atlanta. Chapter 7 provides a contextual assessment of Atlanta's "non-place" in "Southern literature" and its development as a postsouthern "international city." Chapter 8 considers the representational politics of "creative destruction" in Anne Rivers Siddons' Peachtree Road (1988). Chapter 9 considers the role of land speculation, global capital flows and finance capitalist abstraction in Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full (1998). The final chapter demonstrates how Toni Cade Bambara's novel about the Atlanta Child Murders, Those Bones Are Not My Child (1999), indicts capitalist abstraction through a grotesque body politics of place.