ENGL 594 Literature of the American South

Folklorist William Ferris has said that oral history is the root of all Southern art. If we accept that art is formed from this human impulse to tell, then what stories is the region telling itself? Who gets to narrate? How have those stories changed over time, from Eudora Welty to Jesmyn Ward, Gone with the Wind to The Wind Done Gone? What shorthand signs have come to stand in for the South, and how are those interpreted, misinterpreted, and subverted? Over the semester we’ll examine four themes—Landscape, Race, Kin, and Language—as we study Southern literature in a broader creative context that will include dashes of folk art, film, and hip-hop. 


If you are interested in taking this course, please get in touch with Carlos or April, or email us at


Katy Simpson Smith was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. She received a PhD in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. She is the author of We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835, and the novels The Story of Land and Sea, Free Men, and The Everlasting, which the New York Times named among the Top 10 Historical Fiction of 2020. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Paris Review, Los Angeles Review of Books, Oxford American, Granta, and Literary Hub. She lives in New Orleans, and recently served as the Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College.