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 Literary Criticism Review   

The History of Southern Women's Literature
Edited by Carolyn Perry and Mary Louise Weaks
LSU Press, 2002
Hardcover, $49.95  (689 pages)
ISBN: 0-8071-2753-1

The History of Southern Women’s Literature is a comprehensive study of the changing role of southern women through the voices of its female writers.  It is also the history of how the voices of one generation influenced the next generation of writers. 

Perry and Weaks organize the authors in chronological order, which displays the social history of this region’s women:  The Antebellum and Bellum South (Beginning to 1865); The Postbellum South (1865-1900); Renaissance in the South (1900-1960); and The Contemporary South (1960 to the present).   

Among the women authors worthy of individual study in this book, include:  Mary Chestnut, Kate Chopin, Ellen Glasgow, Katherine Anne Porter, Caroline Gordon, Lillian Smith, Zora Neale Hurston, Lillian Hellman, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Elizabeth Spencer, Ellen Douglas, Maya Angelou, Doris Betts, Ellen Gilchrist, Bobbie Ann Mason, Anne Tyler, Alice Walker, Rita Mae Brown, Lee Smith, Josephine Humphreys, Dorothy Allison, Beth Henley, Jill McCorkle, and Kaye Gibbons. 

Some of the most respected critics of southern women’s literature are included in this tome: Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Anne Goodwyn Jones, Sally Fitzgerald, Barbara T. Christian, and Peggy Whitman Prenshaw.  The scope of women writers and issues covered is more extensive than in past references of this nature.  The History of Southern Women’s Literature is a must have for your home library. 

In the afterword, Perry and Weaks state that “… the future of southern women’s literature rests secure on the power of the southern storytelling tradition, which seems in no danger of waning.” 

Carolyn Perry is associate professor of English at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.  Mary Louise Weaks is Hazel Koch Professor of Englsih at Rockford College in Illinois.  They previously coedited the anthology Southern Women’s Writing: Colonial to Contemporary


Joyce Dixon
Southern Scribe Reviews


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