"A Place for the Lost": Ron Rash and Contemporary Southern Identity

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Title: "A Place for the Lost": Ron Rash and Contemporary Southern Identity
Author: Vernon, Zackary Dwayne
Advisors: Michael Grimwood, Committee Chair
Thomas Lisk, Committee Member
Jill McCorkle, Committee Member
Abstract: In his seminal essay "The Search for Southern Identity," C. Vann Woodward asserts, "The time is coming, if indeed it has not already arrived, when the Southerner will begin to ask himself whether there is really any longer very much point in calling himself a Southerner. Or if he does, he might well wonder occasionally whether it is worthwhile insisting on the point" (3). Although Woodward first published this essay in 1958, his assertions may be even more pertinent today, given the effect that an increasingly homogeneous national culture has had on American regionalism. Over the past half century, the persistence of questions such as those Woodward raises has manifested itself in an enormous amount of writing about the idea of a distinctively Southern identity. In this essay, I will examine the literature of Ron Rash, a contemporary writer from western North Carolina, and I will explain Rash's complex relationship with Southern identity by considering, at least tangentially, his three poetry collections as well as his three novels. Ultimately, after examining the history of Southern identity, Rash's use of Southern identity and culture in his fiction and poetry, the ways in which Rash's characters exploit Southern identity, and the version of Southern identity that Rash perpetuates in his own life, I will show that Rash is justifiable in his employment and portrayal of Southern identity. Rather than consciously commodifying Southern identity and culture as a marketing tool to sell his work to a specific audience, Rash artfully records a disappearing culture to which he has strong personal ties.
Date: 2007-07-23
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/2875

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