Date of Graduation

7-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

English

Advisor

Lisa Hinrichsen

Committee Member

M. Keith Booker

Second Committee Member

Robert Cochran

Keywords

Language, literature and linguistics; Social sciences; Communication and the arts; Humanism; Cormac McCarthy; Posthumanism; Ruin; United States; South; White supremacism

Abstract

This thesis reads the novels of Cormac McCarthy as posthuman southern literature to explain why fiction from the South after World War II could no longer convey a sense of place during postmodernity: that is, because the region's culture and economy were transitioning from predominantly humanistic thinking (i.e., believing that humans [and especially southern humans] are supreme beings) to predominantly posthumanistic thinking (i.e., believing that humans are not as supreme as they think they are). It argues that we can trace this ideological change over time via structural shifts in the South’s architectural record, which we see in the ruins of McCarthy’s novels. It concludes that applying posthuman theory to southern literature affords us an alternative (and non-supremacist, non-exceptionalist) way to read southern literature, as well as a way to understand the American South as a space that is constantly undergoing a broader, transideological movement away from humanism (read: human exceptionalism) and toward posthumanism (read: non-, anti-, or after human exceptionalism).

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