Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type


Director of Thesis

Dr. Sara Schwebel

Second Reader

Dr. Elaine Chun


This research study seeks to examine the concept of the southern belle and to provide greater insight into how the southern belle is perceived by those today as a means of describing contemporary southern womanhood and culture. Chapter 1 traces the history of the southern belle from its pre-Civil War roots, through the turmoil of the Civil War, and up through post-war Reconstruction and beyond, thereby situating the concept of the southern belle within the context of southern history. Utilizing a socio-linguistic approach, Chapter 2 explains the research methodology of this study where two group interviews were conducted and where participants responded to questions probing for their current perceptions of who and what constitutes a southern belle in modern culture. Participant responses were then analyzed using evaluative discourse analysis techniques. Chapter 3 discusses the results of the group interview analysis by placing the data in conversation with historical perspectives on the southern belle and analyzing trends in the data between study participants. This study then concludes by suggesting a definition for the modern southern belle which encompasses both the original, historic definition of the belle and modern perceptions of what the belle is today in order to offer insight into one potential lense through which to view women of the American South.

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