How Southern

As I read SND I thought about how atypical it is for a piece of southern literature.  At least in the sense of a traditional southern sense.

Let’s do a little checklist:
slaves? nope.
southern drawl? nope.
sunny plantation? nope.
racial stereotypes? of course…but that’s an easy one

I realize that these components are not what make a southern novel/play, but they are the hallmarks of one in the minds of most Americans.  So what makes one’s writing Southern?  Is it the setting?  The content?  The author?

8 Responses to “How Southern”

  1. meganne says:

    It’s the alcoholism…Southern Comfort, anyone?

  2. Richards says:

    It’s a southern PLAY! Whatever loser taught you ENGL 295 clearly neglected to go over the various genres.

    C0leman’s post, though, does remind us of one phase in southern literary scholarship where much criticism was written trying to come up with the “correct” checklist and then seeing which texts got the “Southern Stamp of Approval.” I find that approach of limited benefit, but it does remind us of the ongoing need to clarify the terms we’re using for analysis.

  3. Meg Baker says:

    I think that this is interesting to think about, because sometimes a book or play gets thrown into a genre/category and it may or may not be obvious to us. I’m not sure what makes something “southern” but I think that part of it is showing us the South in any time period. The play is about New Orleans and the area around it after WWII, and about the people that live there. Is this enough to make the play Southern? Perhaps not, but for me it seems like geography should be one of the more important aspects of defining regional genres.

  4. Stephen says:

    The Mason/Dixon line.

  5. semilunatic says:

    Meg Baker’s answer seems along the lines of what I think could be argued for or against the play. When I was reading this, I visualized New Orleans as a dimmed, dense urban setting–which could easy apply to New York or any major northern city. But in retrospect, this play could easily be reapplied to be set in the NYC: the apartment set in ghettos, Blanche maybe being a New England ice queen rooted out of the historical Concord/Lexington, Massachusetts area or an British transplant fresh off the boat. I particularly like the British slant for Blanche, since it strongly keeps up that ancesteral family/noble blood mentality she got going. And the change of class and setting would be thrown into even brighter light being as she is dealing not only new people and a new lifestyle but a new country.

  6. meganne says:

    It seems that CNN is struggling with the same issue. More specifically, they’re asking what is Southern food and how Southern southern food is. So what did CNN do? They had a secret supper in Atlanta where the local chefs gathered, with farmers, to discuss the very issue (food, not literature). (If there are highlights, my apologies–I can only get the food/eatocracy section on CNN to appear if I use the cached version).