The Postsouthern 'Sense of Place' in Walker Percy's The Moviegoer and Richard Ford's The Sportswriter

in Critical Survey
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  • 1 University of Nottingham
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In 1980, Lewis Simpson published an essay entitled ‘The Closure of History in a Postsouthern America’. Simpson coined the term ‘postsouthern’ to denote the emergence of a new literary moment in which a central concept of southern renascence writing, ‘the history of the literary mind of the South seeking to become aware of itself’, no longer appeared to operate. Though Simpson’s initial definition of ‘postsouthern’ was tentative and particular, the neologism introduced into southern literary and cultural criticism an imperative to reassess the legitimacy of other established tropes, beliefs and constructs. Hence, Michael Kreyling has suggested that ‘Simpson characteristically had picked up on the symptoms of the postmodern/postsouthern before the rest of us.’ As it has been extended and reapplied by subsequent critics such as Kreyling, ‘postsouthern’ has been ‘an enabling word’ – similar to and synonymous with ‘postmodern’– with which to reassess the meaning of such foundational terms as ‘south’ and ‘southern’.


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