Remapping Southern Literature
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Remapping Southern Literature

Contemporary Southern Writers and the West

Title Details

Pages: 152

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 11/01/2007

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2997-0

List Price: $25.95

Remapping Southern Literature

Contemporary Southern Writers and the West

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  • Description
  • Reviews

One of the most significant and surprising developments in contemporary southern fiction is that an increasing number of southern writers are writing about the American West. In Remapping Southern Literature: Contemporary Southern Writers and the West, Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr. studies current southern authors of western novels, historical fiction, and contemporary fiction who have been breaking the mold of southern literature by looking westward. Cut loose, in the postmodern age, from the traditional roots in a sense of place, contemporary southern writers have explored an American West shaped by the myths of lawless freedom and disruptive expansion. The rich and diverse fiction of Doris Betts, Barry Hannah, Cormac McCarthy, Madison Smartt Bell, Richard Ford, Rick Bass, Barbara Kingsolver, Chris Offutt, Frederick Barthelme, Dorothy Allison, and Clyde Edgerton, among others, challenges long-standing definitions of southern fiction and regional identity and reconfigures the myths of the West that have long shaped American life.

In Remapping Southern Literature, Brinkmeyer proposes that today’s southern writers are not by this shift abandoning southern culture but are instead expanding its reach by seeking to balance the ideals of the South and West. This effort points toward a new literary tradition and a new regional and national mythology that blends place and space, settlement and movement, community and individualism, security and freedom.

Robert Brinkmeyer has discovered an important new direction in Southern writing. He shows how contemporary Southern writers have begun investigating the history and interrogating the myth of the West and, in the process, reinventing the literary traditions of their region. Fresh perception spring from nearly every page, and the argument as a whole is at once innovative, provocative, and thoroughly convincing. This indispensable and wonderfully informative book will help to redraw the map of Southern literature, and it confirms Brinkmeyer's reputation as one of the leading figures in Southern studies.

—Richard Gray, author of Writing the South

Brinkmeyer writes a lively, elegant prose . . . full of useful truths that remind his audience of why they read: to locate themselves and their cultures. His thesis is provocative . . . Highly recommended.

Library Journal

[Brinkmeyer] expands the study of American literary regionalism to account for this important new tradition of multiply-inflected regional writing. . . . A well-written and accessible book, Remapping Southern Literature shows the importance of rethinking the significance of regionalism today.

Mississippi Quarterly

Brinkmeyer writes a lively, elegant prose, devoid of distracting jargon and full of useful truths that remind his audience of why they read: to locate themselves and their cultures. . . . Brinkmeyer claims that in Westerns Southerners seek not 'refuge from the problems of postmodern (and southern) life' but 'vantage points for exploring those problems.' The confluence of 'individuality and community, freedom and security, space and place' may give readers a much-needed new American legend. Highly recommended.


Brinkmeyer was instrumental in sparking the current critical interest in the field of southern-western studies. . . . Brinkmeyer's work is impressive because, like the authors and characters he analyzes, he maintains a humble critical posture which underscores rather than contradicts his mastery of this literary trend's theoretical and textual implications.

College Literature

By providing close textual analyses of several representative and relevant works, Brinkmeyer provides a valuable tool for the study of southern literature which moves West. Brinkmeyer shows that Southern writers have shifted from manipulating a legendary region to establishing a balance between two regions.

Texas Review

[A] fresh dimension to the study of southern values and literature.

Southern Literary Journal

About the Author/Editor

ROBERT H. BRINKMEYER JR. is professor and chair of the Department of English at the University of Arkansas. His books include Katherine Anne Porter’s Artistic Development: Primitivism, Traditionalism, and Totalitarianism; The Art and Vision of Flannery O’Connor; and Three Catholic Writers of the Modern South.