The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology With Audio

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For nearly four centuries, the American South has been home to a vital literary tradition.

The Literature of the American South reconsiders southern writing from its seventeenth-century origins to its flourishing present. Featuring the works of eighty-seven classic, contemporary, and newly recovered writers of all genres―poetry, short fiction, drama, novels, autobiography, criticism, sermons, memoirs, journals, and letters―this groundbreaking anthology sheds new light on the creative power of the southern imagination.
The Literature of the American South spans four centuries, from the early 1600s to contemporary times, bringing together the work of nearly 90 American writers. Even if that were all it contained, this anthology would be welcome. But what makes The Literature of the American South especially noteworthy is the juxtaposition of black and white writers, whose texts make clear both divisions and commonalities, and places the literary history of the region in a new light. Excerpts from Thomas Jefferson’s Notes on the State of Virginia are followed by black surveyor and inventor Benjamin Banneker’s letter to Jefferson, which points out the contradiction between Jefferson owning slaves and the ideals of the Declaration of Independence. Also included is an illuminating counterpoint between the excerpt from former slave Harriet Ann Jacobs’s autobiography, and the diary of plantation mistress Mary Boykin Chesnut. In addition, the volume contains material by such stalwarts as Zora Neale Hurston, Jean Toomer, Sterling A. Brown, and Richard Wright.