“Magic of Southern expressions? Similes and metaphorical allusions. They are the yellow highlighter of conversation”(Tim Heaton). Literature have been profoundly impacting our life by teaching us about the past, educate us, and giving lessons. Literature is often a reflection of the history and the events that happened in a certain time period at which the literature is founded on. One type of literature that explicitly shows the culture and the theme of its type is the Southern literature. While most genres are universal categories that describe their traditional literary characteristics and deep analysis of their culture and not geological occupations, Southern literature is contingent to its geological location, and its history(MacKethan). Therefore, Southern literature delinates traditional literary histories, which usually relates to periodic, historical references of the South such as; African American segregation, plantation novels, or southwestern humors, developed and elaborated over periods of history in the South(MacKethan).
Southern literature started off with the antebellum period from seventeenth to eighteenth century and later to a period of Lost Cause when South lost the Civil War (MacKethan). After the American Independence in the seventeenth century ,in the early nineteenth century, Southern economy was strictly based on cotton plantation and slavery and so was its literature by white writers along with some diaries written by slaves. (MacKethan). Because of slavery in the south, Southern literature during this time was mostly written by rich white plantation owners or whites who wrote plantation novels, and others. On the rise of slavery, one the main causes of the Civil War, literature was also impacted by slaves who wrote diaries about their miserable, depressed lives and how they were treated. After the Civil War came the Lost Cause period over 18th to 19th century when famous novelists such as Mark Twain came in spotlight and became recognized for expressing their harsh occupation of the Reconstruction and the loss of their cause after the war (Books). Mark Twain’s writing style became famous because his literature contained both southwestern humor and contained characters who had a social statuses that matched the background color of that era. His books would have been humorous but written in a serious style of literature which not only outlined its cultural background but also highlighted its loss from the Civil War. From the antebellum to the Lost Cause, Southern literature advanced and thanks to some authors such as Mark Twain came one step closer to the period of its Renaissance(MacKethan) .
Its literature finally advances to its Renaissance and to the period of Post War Two where Southern literature gradually changes its form, still maintaining its profound cultural aspect, African Americans, from nineteenth to twentieth century(MacKethan). Still based on its concept of slaves, this literature changed its form to stories based on agrarian occupations and life to stories based on their urbanization and industrialization along with stories based on African American’s civil rights struggle(MacKethan). Since this period was when Southern economy industrialized, now stepping slowly away from agrarian plantations, there would have been civil rights movement and controversy over freed African American’s rights. Therefore, most books during the Renaissance stepped a
way from plantations and dealt with epic stories where African Americans stepped up to fight for their rights which continued until the twentieth century. Upon twentieth century came the Post World War Two period where literature made a final step before the twenty first century which was to form its literature based on segregation of the African Americans(MacKethan). The literature in this era seemed to reflect the whites’ struggle to accept African Americans into their society, and giving African Americans full citizenships and rights. Therefore, there would have been segregation, one of the most popular t
opic of literature during the period of Post World War Two. Like this, Southern literature developed along with the historical timeline but was based on the same concept that it started out from.
The evolution of Southern literature took a lot of time and steps. It went from agrarian slavery, the period of lost cause and despair with Mark Twain’s humorous way to express the period of Lost Cause, African American’s struggle to civil rights movement, and to segregation of African Americans(MacKethan). Despite of its dramatic differences between periods of time, Southern literature is still derived from the same root. In conclusion, Southern literature in general can be said to be a set of stories, narratives, or diaries that somehow relates to its economical advancement, social and political differences, and slavery. “My mother, Southern to the bone, once told me, ‘All Southern literature can be summed up in these words: On the night the hogs ate Willie, Mama died when she heard what Daddy did to Sister.’ She raised me up to be a Southern writer, but it wasn’t easy”(Pat Conroy).
Allen, Jamie. “Southern Literature 'Alive and Well' at Chattanooga Conference.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Apr. 1999, edition.cnn.com/books/news/9904/19/south.writers/index.html. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.
“Books, Authors, and Hat.” 18 Apr. 2017, London, Savoy Hotel, The Pilgrims' Club Lucheon.
Bradley, A. .F. “Mark Twain.” Library of Congress, New York, 20 May 1907, www.loc.gov/item/2004672770/. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.
History.com Staff. “Mark Twain.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/mark-twain. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.
MacKethan, Lucinda. “Genres of Southern Literature.” Sevaa, Southern Spaces, 1 Jan. 1970, southernspaces.org/2004/genres-southern-literature. Accessed 18 Apr. 2017.
Mark Twain: Fast Facts. History.com, www.history.com/topics/mark-twain/videos/mark-twain-fast-facts?m=528e394da93ae&s=undefined&f=1&free=false. Accessed 23 Apr. 2017.