"The southern lady, traditionally depicted as a bloodlessly marmoreal icon, is jostled off her pedestal by living, moving, and, above all, speaking and writing women, black and white, rich and poor, old and young, in this unique anthology which so pleasurably delineates a long-obscured feminine literary tradition."--Veronica Makowsky, University of Connecticut
"Timely and long overdue. The contribution of women to southern traditions is often undervalued, and gathering them here provides an unmistakable mark of their range and quality. This collection should encourage important reevaluations of southern writing and the contributions of its women authors."--Barbara C. Ewell, Loyola University, New Orleans
A problematic relationship forms the core of this anthology--the interwoven lives of southern women. On the one hand, they are linked by gender; on the other, they are divided by racism, class conflict, and sexual politics. As suggested by these selections from both white and African-American women from the early eighteenth to the late twentieth century, their struggles capture the essence and the evolution of the southern woman's voice.
With artistic and historical richness seldom found in literary anthologies, this collection includes letters, journal and diary entries, essays, poetry, and fiction, with an introduction to each historical period and a biography of each author.
While all the writers share the label "southern woman," some test the boundary of that designation. Fanny Kemble, a British actress, moved to the Georgia plantation that her husband inherited; Leigh Allison Wilson, the youngest writer, was born and raised in the South but writes about New York state. However, all authors reflect or refract their personal experience; together their work conveys the range and texture of the literary tradition of the South and of its women writers.
List of writers
THE ANTEBELLUM SOUTH
Eliza Lucas Pinckney
Anne Newport Royall
Caroline Howard Gilman
Susan Petigru King Bowen
Frances E. W. Harper
THE CIVIL WAR SOUTH
Mary Boykin Chesnut
Augusta Jane Evans Wilson
Margaret Junkin Preston
THE POSTBELLUM SOUTH
Mary Noailles Murfree
Julia Mood Peterkin
THE MODERN SOUTH
Katherine Anne Porter
Zora Neale Hurston
THE CONTEMPORARY SOUTH
Bobbie Ann Mason
Leigh Allison Wilson
Mary Louise Weaks is associate professor and chair of the Department of English at Rockford College in Illinois. She is the coeditor of Talking with Robert Penn Warren and author of articles, interviews, and reviews published in The Southern Review, Mississippi Quarterly, and Atlanta Historical Journal. Carolyn Perry is assistant professor of English and director of the Writing Across the Curriculum Program at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. She is the coeditor of The Dolphin Reader.
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"This is a book that will hold any reader. The material is exciting, amazing, lovely, hard, painful, and fascinating."
"This rich collection offers a divers chorus of voices." "Don't miss British-born actress Fanny Kemble's firsthand observations of plantation life, nor excerpts from Harriet Jacobs slave narrative: "Notwithstanding my grandmother's long and faithful service to her owners, not one of her children escaped the auction block."
This anthology is ambitious -- first, in its time-frame and, second, in the inclusion of letters, journals, autobiograpgy, and poetry. ...a scholarly anthology as well as an entertaining one.
"A fascinating anthology" "these testimonies both enthrall and disturb. Many of the early pieces are so riveting, and their writers so brilliantly detail the peculiarities of their era, that oneis oddly disappointed when, in the last half of the collection, one turns to favorite but familiar fiction writers like Carson McCullers and Zora Neale Hurston."--Virginia Quarterly Review
--Virginia Quarterly Review
"those seeking a short introduction to Southern women writers will find this work a good choice."
--Florida Historical Quarterly
"Southen Women's Writing: Colonial to Contemporary is a remarkable anthology in a feminine literary tradition not satisfactorily explored in previous anthologies of southern literature." ""the first work of solid critical scope that presents an excellent representational selection of writings from both established and once 'lost' writers." "This book not only alters and expands the southern literary canon, it reshapes it, and ,via particular arrangement of analysis and text, makes profound sense of it all. This is a vital collection that will likely prove influential and indispensable, opening new doors for further exploration and important studies."--Southern Quarterly
--Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts of the South