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Faulkner's Geographies

Faulkner's Geographies

Jay Watson
Ann J. Abadie
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Faulkner's Geographies
    Book Description:

    The recent spatial turn in social theory and cultural studies opens up exciting new possibilities for the study of William Faulkner's literature. The fictional domains of Yoknapatawpha County and Jefferson, Mississippi, are not simply imagined communities but imaginative geographies of remarkable complexity and detail, as evidenced by the maps Faulkner created of his "apocryphal" county. Exploring the diverse functions of space in Faulkner's artistic vision, the eleven essays in Faulkner's Geographies delve deep into Yoknapatawpha but also reach beyond it, to uncover unsuspected connections and flows linking local, regional, national, hemispheric, and global geographies in Faulkner's writings.

    Individual contributions examine the influence of the plantation as a land-use regime on Faulkner's imagination of north Mississippi's geography; the emergence of "micro-Souths" as a product of modern migratory patterns in the urban North of Faulkner's fiction; the enlistment of the author's work in the geopolitics of the cultural Cold War during the 1950s; the historical and literary affiliations between Faulkner's Deep South and Greater Mexico; the local and idiosyncratic as alternatives to region and nation; the unique intersection of regional and metropolitan geographies that Faulkner encountered as a novice writer immersed in the literary culture of New Orleans; the uses of feminist geography to trace the interplay of gender, space, and movement; and the circulation of Caribbean and "Black South" spaces and itineraries through Faulkner's masterpiece,Absalom, Absalom!

    By bringing new attention to the function of space, place, mapping, and movement in his literature,Faulkner's Geographiesseeks to redraw the very boundaries of Faulkner studies.

    eISBN: 978-1-4968-0232-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. IX-XXIII)
    Jay Watson

    “In the beginning,” writes Henri Lefebvre, “was the Topos.”¹ Lefebvre, perhaps the most influential theorist of space in modern philosophy,² did not have William Faulkner in mind when he penned those words, but he certainly could have. Faulkner studies, after all, is highly invested in its own spatially focused origin narrative, in which the creation of a specific topos, the fictional north Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha, is singled out as the pivotal moment in the authorial ontogenesis of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated writers. Before Yoknapatawpha: a haphazard artistic program ranging from Beardsleyesque line drawings, impressionistic newspaper sketches...

  4. Note on the Conference
    (pp. XXIV-2)
  5. Local Places/Modern Spaces: The Crossroads Local in Faulkner
    (pp. 3-16)
    Barbara Ladd

    Faulkner’s relationships with geography were complex. Depending on whom you ask, he is or is not a “Southern” writer. He once wrote that “I’m inclined to think that my material, the South, is not very important to me. I just happen to know it, and dont have time in one life to learn another one and write at the same time.”¹ Although he wrote very perceptively about the South, few would call him a regionalist, because that is a minoritizing term in US literary history, and very few would call Faulkner a minor writer. This is not so much the...

  6. Designing Spaces: Sutpen, Snopes, and the Promise of the Plantation
    (pp. 17-34)
    Scott Romine

    In 1936 William Faulkner marked graphically for the first time the limits of Yoknapatawpha. But in the foldout map of Yoknapatawpha County included inAbsalom, Absalom!Faulkner indulged in an authorial conceit that would fail to be borne out by the critical record. In designing a fictional territory of which he claimed to be “sole owner,” Faulkner was, to put it mildly, kicking against the pricks: readers and critics ever since have been redrawing, reimagining, and repositioning what Faulkner once called his “postage stamp of native soil.” In stamping Faulkner’s fictional letter to the world, however, Yoknapatawpha served a useful...

  7. “My New Orleans Gang”: Faulkner’s French Quarter Circle
    (pp. 35-49)
    John Shelton Reed

    “If I never much hankered after Paris during the expatriate years,” Hamilton Basso wrote in the 1960s, “it was because, in the New Orleans of that era, I had Paris in my own back yard,” and in the French Quarter of his youth a crowd of artists, writers, journalists, musicians, poseurs, and hangers-on had indeed worked with some success to create what Basso called “a sort of Creole version of the Left Bank.” As the Vieux Carré evolved from the slum it had become at the turn of the last century into . . . whatever it is today, there...

  8. “No Kind of Place”: New York City, Southernness, and Migratory Modernism
    (pp. 50-64)
    Benjamin S. Child

    The project of defining the South in Southern literature is obviously a matter of interest in a forum like the annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. As Scott Romine reminds us in his recent work, the “Real South of the late South” is, above all else, a product of cultural imagining and commercial branding. Of course, even before the arrival of the late South, we are forced to confront the presence of multiple Souths, microSouths as Romine calls them, all moving under the single sign “South”—and prominent among these various microSouths is a version that we might recognize as the...

  9. Jamestown and Jimson Weed: Charting the Autochthonous Claim of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury
    (pp. 65-78)
    Kita Douglas

    In the opening pages of Toni Morrison’sBeloved(1987), Sethe washes chamomile sap from her legs as the unspeakable and repressed memories of her enslavement take sudden violent form in her consciousness:

    She might be hurrying across a field, running practically, to get to the pump quickly and rinse the chamomile sap from her legs. Nothing else would be in her mind. The picture of the men coming to nurse her was as lifeless as the nerves in her back where the skin buckled like a washboard. Nor was there the faintest scent of ink or the cherry gum and...

  10. South by Southwest: William Faulkner and Greater Mexico
    (pp. 79-96)
    José E. Limón

    It is now well established that Faulkner’s American geographies extend southeast of Mississippi across the Gulf of Mexico out to the Caribbean Sea but also directly southward to South America. His connection to the Caribbean is certainly well known, particularly to Francophone Haiti, inAbsalom, Absalom!, Thomas Sutpen’s immediate point of origin and formative moment before he shows up in Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. For Richard H. King, “it is the great proof text that links the (US) Southern Faulkner with the Latin American/Caribbean Faulkner.”¹ However, Faulkner’s extension southward toward most of Latin America proper is not based on his direct...

  11. Thomas Sutpen’s Geography Lesson: Environmental Obscurities and Racial Remapping in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!
    (pp. 97-111)
    Ryan Heryford

    The design that will later entail Sutpen’s Hundred begins with a geography lesson, or lack thereof. In a “one-room country school in a nest of Tidewater plantations”¹ Thomas Sutpen’s teacher reads to the class from a book on Haiti and other Caribbean nations: “That was how I learned of the West Indies. Not where they were, though if I had known at the time that that knowledge would someday serve me, I would have learned that too. What I learned was that there was a place called the West Indies to which poor men went in ships and became rich,...

  12. Faulkner’s Caribbean Geographies in Absalom, Absalom!
    (pp. 112-128)
    Valérie Loichot

    Land of milk and honey, of profit and money, of fear and monstrosity, the West Indies never cease to fascinate the nineteenth-century traveler. In 1887, for instance, the Irish Greek journalist Lafcadio Hearn, living in New Orleans at the time, writes to his friend W. D. O’Connor, “I am going to run away to . . . the West Indies, for a romantic trip—a small literary bee in search of inspiring honey.”² In 1820 Thomas Sutpen ofAbsalom, Absalom!“[runs] away from home”³ to go to the West Indies, after learning from his teacher’s book that “ there was...

  13. A Daughter’s Geography: William Faulkner, Zora Neale Hurston, and a New Mapping of “The Black South”
    (pp. 129-142)
    Farah Jasmine Griffin

    This essay is pedagogically driven. What happens, it asks, when you place William Faulkner on what is, for all intents and purposes, an African American literature syllabus? More specifically, what literary insights and geographies emerge when you place Faulkner alongside that other “genius of the South,” Zora Neale Hurston? A number of African American and Caribbean writers have engaged Faulkner’s oeuvre: among them, Toni Morrison, Ralph Ellison, and Edouard Glissant are the most well known. Consequently, teaching Faulkner alongside any of these canonical writers may yield more complex understandings about race, region, nation, and literary tradition. But Hurston resonates especially...

  14. William Faulkner and the Problem of Cold War Modernism
    (pp. 143-162)
    Harilaos Stecopoulos

    Allen Ginsberg’s imagined conversation with T. S. Eliot captures an important strain in US literary history. Eliot may not have been an agent working for CIA bureaucrat James Jesus Angleton, but many twentieth-century studies scholars accept as a truism the Cold War state’s co-optation of modernism.² The evidence is persuasive, particularly in the literary arts. One only has to recall the mid-1960s scandal over the CIA’s covert sponsorship of such respected modern literary journals as Encounter and the Kenyon Review or the State Department’s deployment of Robert Frost, Allen Tate, Elizabeth Bishop, and other writers to realize that the US...

  15. Woman in Motion: Escaping Yoknapatawpha
    (pp. 163-174)
    Lorie Watkins

    Feminist geographers have long considered the effect of geographic differences on gender relations and gender equality. As Linda McDowell writes, “The specific aim of a feminist geography . . . is to investigate, make visible and challenge the relationships between gender divisions and spacial divisions, to uncover their mutual constitution and problematize their apparent naturalness.”¹ Quite simply, it’s “a social science that puts women back into the equations of understanding and mapping our world.”² Thus while this branch of geography considers many of the same subjects that other geographers consider, it does so with a focus on gender that involves...

  16. Contributors
    (pp. 175-178)
  17. Index
    (pp. 179-187)