Cover image for The companion to Southern literature : themes, genres, places, people, movements, and motifs
The companion to Southern literature : themes, genres, places, people, movements, and motifs
Flora, Joseph M.
Publication Information:
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxvi, 1054 pages ; 27 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS261 .C55 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Non circulating

On Order




Author Notes

Joseph M. Flora is Atlanta Professor of Southern Culture and formerly chair of the English department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author or editor of many books, including Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary and Rediscovering Vardis Fisher: Centennial Essays.

Lucinda H. MacKethan is professor of English at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and has published numerous works on American women's literature and slavery, including Daughters of Time: Creating Woman's Voice in Southern Story.

Todd Taylor is assistant professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In the 1980s and 1990s, Flora coedited a four-volume series on southern writers published by Greenwood Press. Now he has teamed with a fellow English professor to compile this sourcebook that explores the multifaceted aspects of the "southern experience as it is depicted in literature." Focusing on common threads that run through southern writing and set it apart from the literature of other regions, the more than 500 alphabetical entries cover a wide range of topics, including themes, genres, customs, locales, stereotypes, historical events and entities, places and regions, colleges and universities, and periodicals and other publications. Although the editors stress that this is not a biographical volume, they do include a limited number of entries on individuals, covering 12 major southern authors (such as Faulkner and Welty) and an eclectic assortment of 29 other figures (e.g., Harriet Beecher Stowe, Abraham Lincoln, Elvis Presley) whose works or lives are inextricably linked with southern literature. Written primarily by scholars representing a wide range of academic institutions, the entries are signed, and most conclude with cross-references to related articles and a brief list of bibliographic references. Treatment ranges from the lighthearted and folksy approach in shorter entries such as Grits, Sears Catalog, and Yellow-dog Democrat to the scholarly, more serious tone of longer articles like Art and artists, Conservatism, and Slave narrative. Some of the longest articles (4 to 10 pages) are those that explore the literary history of each southern state. Although it is disquieting to see an entry for "Nigger," the scholarly and reasoned article provides a valuable overview of the history of the term and its usage by both black and white authors. Facilitating access to the entries are a subject guide near the beginning of the volume that groups article titles by broad categories, such as "Customs, Rituals and Icons," "Literature by Period," and "Religion," and a detailed index that is invaluable for locating references to individual authors. Superior in quality and scope to Encyclopedia of Southern Literature (ABC-CLIO, 1997), this volume serves as a greatly expanded and updated extension to the "Literature" section of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, edited by Charles Reagan Wilson and William R. Ferris (University of North Carolina, 1989). Well-written, meticulously edited, and thoughtfully organized, The Companion to Southern Literature is an excellent resource for anyone who is studying or reading southern literature. It is highly recommended for high-school, public, and academic libraries.

Library Journal Review

This companion contains more than 500 entries on such subjects as themes, genres, historical events, people, and customs as they pertain to the literature of the American South, which the editors define very broadly. For example, there is an entry on Shakespeare, noting in particular how Prospero, in The Tempest, might have been seen in the past as the ideal "enlightened slave owner." Coeditors Flora (English, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; ed., Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary) and MacKethan (English, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh; Daughters of Time: Creating Women's Voice in Southern Story) are widely published scholars on Southern literature, and the contributors are a good mix of scholars, graduate students, and writers. The alphabetically arranged entries, which generally provide brief, up-to-date bibliographies, include "Uncle Tom," "Rebel Yell," "Scopes Trial," "Elvis," and "Poetry, 1820-1900." However, because author information is easily found in many other books, only 14 authors are included here. The simple, alphabetical table of contents is supplemented by a 22-section classified table of contents that groups entries by a shared subject (e.g., music or religion). Unlike The Encyclopedia of Southern Literature, a more conventional work that focuses on authors, this unique compilation shoots off in all sorts of interesting directions. An excellent addition to libraries that support studies of Southern literature. Peter Dollard, Alma Coll. Lib., MI (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Even though this hefty work features many entries that might be considered cultural ("Ancestor Worship," "Bourbon," "Family Feuds," "Gossip") rather than literary, it focuses on literature. The editors purposely sought a scope whose breadth would assist readers in exploring southern literature from both topical perspectives and from the usual author approach. The 22-section subject index categorizes the entries (there are more than 500) into such subdivisions as "Authors" (Faulkner, O'Connor, Twain), "Themes" (family, guilt, racism, sex), "Types and Stereotypes" (debutante, new Negro, poor white), and "Locales, Real and Mythical" (Bible belt, Mississippi Delta, suburbs). The 14 authors were chosen for their pioneering work or widespread influence. The arrangement is alphabetic, "abolition" to "Yoknapatawpha," and entries vary in length from about 500 to 6,000 words. Most topics could be expected ("Old South," "New South," "Civil War"), while many are refreshingly eclectic ("K Mart Fiction," "Grit Lit," "Redneck," "Lazy South"). The 250 contributors provide scholarly insights and separate bibliographies for most entries; the alphabetic and topical tables of contents plus an extensive index combine to make this a reference resource valuable to all libraries that support studies in southern literature. A. E. Bonnette University of Louisiana at Lafayette