Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



This project investigates manifestations of Apocalypse in selected works of southern fiction, each of which simultaneously draws upon the cosmology of southern evangelical Protestantism and disrupts that cosmology’s power to govern the discourses of race, class, and gender in the U.S. South. Apocalypse South proposes that invocations of the Apocalypse are signs of deferred meaning—of hidden histories of undifferentiation, hybridity, and contradiction which defy the prevailing discourses that configure social relationships in southern spaces and places. Southern religious culture maps Apocalypse onto the boundaries of race, class, and gender and imparts catastrophic consequences to their violations. However, the works investigated by this project appropriate these apocalyptic spaces in order to articulate histories neglected and even concealed by the prevailing discourses of southern community. I contend that these works engage a recognizable regional apocalyptic imaginary: they conjure a landscape fraught with the apocalyptic possibilities of cataclysm, judgment, deliverance, revolution, and, above all else, a hope that things will get better. Apocalypse South charts this “unseen world of archangels and prophets and folk rising from the dead” (to borrow Randall Kenan’s words) through readings of William Faulkner’s Light in August, Richard Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children, Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Kenan’s A Visitation of Spirits and “Let the Dead Bury Their Dead,” and the apocalypticism evident in representations of the 2005 flooding of New Orleans.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

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Committee Chair

John Lowe