Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


American Studies


Susan V Donaldson


A look at the early manuscripts of Flannery O'Connor's two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away, reveals that she worked hard to remove any traces of feminine sensibility or perspective from her work, hoping to distinguish it as superior to the efforts of other southern "penwomen." Both novels underwent a long and difficult transformation from stories centered upon the exploits of a diverse group of characters to novels whose sole focus was on a few male protagonists. Eager to develop her art within a framework acceptable to southern New Critical authorities like John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, andrew Lytle, Robert Penn Warren and the male-dominated literary establishment they represented, O'Connor attempted to cultivate a distinctly "unladylike" writing style. In the process, she radically altered the scope of her fictional landscape, banishing female characters, silencing female voices, and redirecting her satirical gaze from the masculine to the feminine. This dissertation considers O'Connor's unpublished fiction as evidence of her ambivalent relationship to a literary culture founded upon the racial and gender-based hierarchies that had traditionally characterized southern society. at the same time, this dissertation takes a revisionist look at southern literary history, focusing in particular on the role Ransom, Tate, Lytle, and Warren played in defining the "Southern Tradition" so as to exclude women, blacks, and the uneducated masses. Finally, this study reconsiders O'Connor's published novels in light of the manuscripts and explores the ways in which she veiled her female identity through the use of male characters and masculinist narrative conventions.



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