Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in English

Degree Level





Hinrichsen, Lisa

Committee Member/Reader

Kayser, Casey

Committee Member/Second Reader

Connors, Sean

Committee Member/Third Reader

Levine, Bill


The United States South has a long, complicated history, and some of its stories have not had the opportunity to be shared. Because of the ways in which the region has been represented stereotypically, many Americans have a misinformed perspective on what it means to live as a Southerner. Due in part to a lack of diversity in the publishing industry, a common phenomenon has been the retelling of the white man and his experiences within the region, as “89% of authors that were published in 2018 were white” (So & Wezerek). Yet because of editorial changes within the last decade and a push to diversify the literary marketplace, there is now an influx of inclusive and diverse stories that are deserving to be shared to the public. Inclusive young adult novels by authors such as Arkansas resident Kate Hart show how the representation of the U.S. South has changed. Her work, as seen in novels such as After The Fall (2017), reflects a diverse, complicated South. Moreover, it confronts sexual assault and recovery in frank terms. Through reading authors such as Hart, readers have the opportunity to read narratives that showcase multiculturality in the region and highlight contemporary social issues that southerners, including Arkansans, experience: racial discrimination, sexual identity discrimination, sexual assault, and gun violence.

Because YA novels –like Dear Martin, Ramona Blue, After the Fall, and This Is Where It Ends– are being written to illustrate the contemporary U.S. South, it is important for young readers to engage in meaningful conversations about what is being published. It is fundamental that texts concerning Southern regionalism be incorporated into secondary education curricula in Arkansas, as it is vital that students interact with texts that make them feel represented. For this reason, the project reveals the importance of incorporating education regarding regionalism and regional identity when choosing classroom texts to best fit the needs of students, specifically Arkansan students. With this goal in mind, I provide a historical context to the major themes that are included in each novel I analyze (race discrimination, sexual identity discrimination, sexual assault, and gun violence). I also include literary reviews and readers’ responses about the texts I analyze to highlight the importance of creating a more inclusive and representative classroom environment for schools in the state of Arkansas.

Through my research and grant funding, I interviewed Kate Hart, author of After The Fall, to uncover her reasons and motivations for portraying the region from a contemporary perspective. I also interviewed three teachers across the state of Arkansas, from Cabot, Genoa, and Greenland, concerning their opinions about regional representation within the texts they are assigned to teach. I received feedback from the three teachers concerning their opinions regarding how they see their students interacting with the chosen texts within the classroom. My overall goal for the project is to show the importance of highlighting equal representation in Secondary English classrooms while incorporating regional texts highlighting the contemporary South in classroom settings for more inclusive pedagogy.


Young Adult Literature; The US South; Education; Critical Regionalism; Southerner