Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Peter Kalliney


My dissertation examines the portrayal of southern alterity in the global modernist novel. The trope of southern spaces as sites of decay, degeneration, and dissolution proves to be remarkably durable in both fictions set within the domestic U.S. south, as well as those colonial and postcolonial texts associated with the global modernist canon. Novels like Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! suggest that the alterity of places like the Congo and Haiti are inextricably bound up with racial hierarchies. On the other hand, texts such as Charles W. Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition and Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God acknowledge southern alterity as structural or cultural in nature, less a product of inherent racial difference. Each chapter pairs two novels, one canonical and the other semi-canonical, not to argue that the two visions of southern alterity are complementary, but rather that they exist in dialectical relationship with one another. Building upon the work of the New Southern Studies and the increasingly transnational focus of U.S. southern studies in general, I argue that geographical designations like “south” are constructed, and “the south” is a discursive formation that shapes dominant (northern/metropolitan) views of the world.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)