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Title: "You talk like a goddam Yankie" : Cormac McCarthy and East Tennessee exceptionalism
Author: Walsh, C. J.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2004
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Cormac McCarthy’s western novels have made him one of the most prominent authors in contemporary American fiction, and they have received a great deal of critical attention. Yet the western novels were preceded by four novels set in East Tennessee that set the mythic, historic and thematic template for McCarthy’s later work. Like East Tennessee itself, McCarthy’s early works have suffered from a lack of detailed critical and historical analysis. I contend in this study that McCarthy’s Southern work can only truly be understood when read within the context of East Tennessee exceptionalism, and I shall explore how the mythic and historic character of the region is played out in McCarthy’s Southern aesthetic. I will also show how this region and McCarthy’s work is unique within Southern letters, the most marginal, dispossessed area within the large South itself. This is captured with East Tennessee’s struggle to resist modernity following the birth of the Tennessee Valley Authority, and this struggle forms the central component of McCarthy’s Southern aesthetic. Two strands of comparative analysis help us in establishing the centrality of East Tennessee exceptionalism to McCarthy’s work. Each chapter will compare his work to that of other Southern authors in order to show that McCarthy is an author who maintains a mythic and very Southern interest in myth, albeit in terms very different to the Southern renaissance. Each chapter will also include a comparative analysis of his later work in order to highlight how the imaginative and mythic culture of East Tennessee informs Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available