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College of Arts & Sciences
Institute for Southern Studies

"An Unprecedented Obligation and Opportunity for the South": World War II and the Death of the Southern Renaissance

Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, History & Southern Studies, Mercer University

Join us on Thursday, 13 April 2017 at 4:30PM as Mercer University Professor of History Sarah E. Gardner surveys the changes wrought by World War II to the book industry in general and to the Southern Renaissance in particular. Dr. Gardner will focus on Lillian Smith's Strange Fruit and Richard Wright's Black Boy, both published in 1944, as case studies. She will argue that during the 1940s, the South came to occupy a different literary position in the minds of industry insiders. The war changed which books were produced, how they were produced, and the ways they were pitched to an expanding market that demanded reading material that explained new wartime realities. In this climate, few southern titles fit the bill. Her talk will also note the ways in which the industry itself changed. Southerners continued to publish fiction, of course, but by the 1940s there was hardly anything new about the overturning of the moonlight and magnolia school. Renaissances cannot continue forever. Southern authors might have had something new to say but that was no longer revolutionary.

Her talk will be in Gambrell 103 and is free and open to the public.