Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis





First Advisor

Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr.


With the advent of the New Southern Studies and its critiques of Southern Exceptionalism, the critic of Southern Literature has felt the necessity to both look within and outside the American South to re-contextualize the parameters of the study in order to avoid the pitfalls of totalizing and whitewashed narratives it is accused of perpetrating. As Matthew Lassiter and Joseph Crespino note in their study The Myth of Southern Exceptionalism, such a shift may be accomplished through the consideration of more salient measures of identity and belonging, such as religion, class, and gender. In this paper, I examine how religious taxonomies of being, an ontological dualism rooted in Christian Fundamentalism, can be explored in order tie together a multiplicity of narratives of the South while simultaneously allowing these different Souths to maintain cultural integrity. Through putting the works of Walker Percy, Lillian Smith, and Richard Wright in conversation with one another, the careful critic can establish a common thread of dualistic ontologies through three differing, Southern perspectives. Although by no means totally representative of their respective communities, Wright, Smith, and Percy all identify and contend with the splitting of the soul (or mind) from the body and how this ontology was used by their communities to establish systems of control. Although all three authors deal with and illustrate these systems of ontological control differently, the splitting of the body from the soul proves an essential aspect of each author’s consideration of what it means to be categorized as Southern.


© 2016, Thomas R. Cody