Fialka, Katherine Brackett
MetadataShow full item record
“Textual Healing: Female Readers, Self-Writing, and the Genre of Self in the American South, 1840-1920” argues that Southern women read constantly, wrote about what they read, and then used what they found in novels, histories, poetry, and scientific texts—among other things—to describe but also to inscribe their own lives. My project demonstrates how integral reading and self-writing were to the emotional lives of women and adds to the small chorus of southern scholars calling for a reevaluation of intellectual life in the South, with a particular emphasis on Southern “selfdom.” While scholars have analyzed and evaluated the “American” reading public at length, some tend to discount or completely ignore Southern readers. At times, they describe so-called “American” readers without ever considering Southern sources. Though middle-class and elite Southerners rarely expressed interest in educating poor whites, blacks and slaves in their region, they did value reading amongst themselves. My work reevaluates readers in the South and in doing so, offers a more complete picture of reading within the United States. In addition, it counters narratives of Southern backwardness and intellectual conservatism to see literary culture as thriving in its own unique manner in the South while also adding regular women as actors to the realm of intellectual history.