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Southern Expressionism: Apocalyptic Hillscapes, Racial Panoramas, and Lustmord in William Faulkner’s Light in August

Southern Expressionism: Apocalyptic Hillscapes, Racial Panoramas, and Lustmord in William... Southern Expressionism: Apocalyptic Hillscapes, Racial Panoramas, and Lustmord in William Faulkner’s Light in August by Jeffrey Stayton Joe Christmas, after walking through Light in August ’s Jeffer - son and Freedman Town, comes to view these segregated communities as one panorama for the first time from a hilltop overlooking Jefferson’s industrial district, just hours before descending to murder Joanna Bur- den in Freedman Town. William Faulkner renders Christmas’s hills- cape as a quite literally abysmal vision, an “open window” technique that parallels what German Expressionist painters had also used in order for their modern cityscapes to appear more volatile — for Christmas does indeed stand upon the precipice of his own unique racial abyss. As a con- sequence, rather than offsetting his alienation, the perspective Christ - mas has gained serves only to heighten his sense of racial isolation more acutely, and through this largely expressionistic technique Faulkner cre- ates in Joe Christmas a southern version of Expressionism’s “New Man”: a Lustmorder (sexual murderer) who misdirects his impotent rage at his emasculated self and ambiguous identity into misogynistic violence. In this way, Light in August moves southern literature beyond the gothic into a far more modernist incarnation: Southern Expressionism. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Southern Expressionism: Apocalyptic Hillscapes, Racial Panoramas, and Lustmord in William Faulkner’s Light in August

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 42 (1) – Jan 27, 2010

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2009 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

Southern Expressionism: Apocalyptic Hillscapes, Racial Panoramas, and Lustmord in William Faulkner’s Light in August by Jeffrey Stayton Joe Christmas, after walking through Light in August ’s Jeffer - son and Freedman Town, comes to view these segregated communities as one panorama for the first time from a hilltop overlooking Jefferson’s industrial district, just hours before descending to murder Joanna Bur- den in Freedman Town. William Faulkner renders Christmas’s hills- cape as a quite literally abysmal vision, an “open window” technique that parallels what German Expressionist painters had also used in order for their modern cityscapes to appear more volatile — for Christmas does indeed stand upon the precipice of his own unique racial abyss. As a con- sequence, rather than offsetting his alienation, the perspective Christ - mas has gained serves only to heighten his sense of racial isolation more acutely, and through this largely expressionistic technique Faulkner cre- ates in Joe Christmas a southern version of Expressionism’s “New Man”: a Lustmorder (sexual murderer) who misdirects his impotent rage at his emasculated self and ambiguous identity into misogynistic violence. In this way, Light in August moves southern literature beyond the gothic into a far more modernist incarnation: Southern Expressionism.

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 27, 2010

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