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Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers

Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson... Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers by Cynthia Wu In Carson McCullers’ 1936 collection of short stories, The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, issues of ethnic difference, white racialization, and the negotiation of identities play a central role. This is not surprising, considering that the loosely imagined body of texts known as “the Southern Renaissance” has a strong preoccupation with these themes. Southern writers, both Anglo- and African American, have long fore- grounded the “race question” in representing and imagining the New South following the Civil War, and McCullers is no exception. Her char- acters grapple with what it means to be white in the South, what it means not to be white, and what it means to challenge or comply with the stan- dards of whiteness. However, what differentiates The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories from most other pieces of southern literature is the rel- ative absence of African American characters. If, as many theorists of race in the United States have pointed out, notions of “black” and no- tions of “white” are mutually constitutive and exist in a hierarchical bi- nary, can whiteness ever http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 34 (1) – Dec 1, 2001

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2001 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Expanding Southern Whiteness: Reconceptualizing Ethnic Difference in the Short Fiction of Carson McCullers by Cynthia Wu In Carson McCullers’ 1936 collection of short stories, The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories, issues of ethnic difference, white racialization, and the negotiation of identities play a central role. This is not surprising, considering that the loosely imagined body of texts known as “the Southern Renaissance” has a strong preoccupation with these themes. Southern writers, both Anglo- and African American, have long fore- grounded the “race question” in representing and imagining the New South following the Civil War, and McCullers is no exception. Her char- acters grapple with what it means to be white in the South, what it means not to be white, and what it means to challenge or comply with the stan- dards of whiteness. However, what differentiates The Ballad of the Sad Café and Other Stories from most other pieces of southern literature is the rel- ative absence of African American characters. If, as many theorists of race in the United States have pointed out, notions of “black” and no- tions of “white” are mutually constitutive and exist in a hierarchical bi- nary, can whiteness ever

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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