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Upon Provincialism

Southern Literature and National Periodical Culture, 1870–1900
Bill Hardwig

BUY Cloth · 192 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813934044 · $49.50 · Apr 2013
BUY Paper · 192 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813934051 · $24.50 · Apr 2013
BUY Ebook · 192 pp. · ISBN 9780813934068 · $24.50 · Apr 2013

Drawing on tourist literature, travelogues, and local-color fiction about the South, Bill Hardwig tracks the ways in which the nation's leading interdisciplinary periodicals, especially the Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, and the Century, translated and broadcast the predominant narratives about the late-nineteenth-century South. In many ways, he attests, the national representation of the South was controlled more firmly by periodical editors working in the Northeast, such as William Dean Howells, Thomas Bailey Aldrich, and Richard Watson Gilder, than by writers living in and writing about the region. Fears about national unity, immigration, industrialization, and racial dynamics in the South could be explored through the safe and displaced realm of a regional literature that was often seen as mere entertainment or as a picturesque depiction of quaint rural life. The author examines in depth the short work of George Washington Cable, Charles Chesnutt, Alice Dunbar-Nelson, Lafcadio Hearn, Mary Noailles Murfree, and Thomas Nelson Page in the context of the larger periodical investment in the South. Arguing that this local-color fiction calls into question some of the lines of demarcation within U.S. and southern literary and cultural studies, especially those offered by identity-based models, Hardwig returns these writers to the dynamic cultural exchanges within local-color fiction from which they initially emerged.


Hardwig’s argument stands in productive tension with recent work on regionalism, but it also contributes to new millennium scholarship on multiculturalism and transnationalism. Upon Provincialism succeeds admirably in changing the way we understand nineteenth-century U.S. literature.

Harilaos Stecopoulos, University of Iowa, author of Reconstructing the World: Southern Fictions and U.S. Imperialisms, 1898–1976

Hardwig’s book is a richly complex reading of southern regionalism that makes clear that local color is anything but local and simple. It is a major contribution both to the study of southern literature and to periodical studies, which he marries well to strong effect.

Mark Noonan, New York City College of Technology · American Periodicals

About the Author(s): 

Bill Hardwig is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Tennessee.

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