Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Susan V Donaldson
This study argues that Katharine DuPre Lumpkin, Lillian Smith, and Pauli Murray used sites of regional memory in their autobiographies, particularly Confederate burial sites, to discuss how segregation divided not only the southern landscape and the southern people, but southern minds and bodies as well. In the southern graveyard, memory of the Confederate South was stored in tombstones and memorials, in Confederate flags driven into grass plots, and in Memorial Day speeches and rituals associated with the burial of the dead. Cemeteries housed the language of southern memory. Here, identity was spoken in ritualistic form--inscribed on tombs, in texts, and in bodily memories and messages.;Witness to numerous activities designed to commemorate the Confederate South and to maintain the social order of the New South, Lumpkin, Smith, and Murray created their autobiographies to dismantle the Lost Cause versions of southern identity. They joined the dialogue surrounding the rituals of regional memory by placing the dead southern body as a site of memory within their texts; they entered burial grounds to unearth the meaning and identity given to dead bodies. In the process, they retrieved forgotten memories, participated in the return of the repressed, and searched for messages inscribed on the bodies of southerners.;Lumpkin, Smith, and Murray used their autobiographies to continue their work in articulating a potential new South, a South freed from the schizophrenic nature of segregation and open to a new era in race relations. In their texts, segregation is a defining metaphor for the South, regulating not only the lay of the land, but also the ways southerners think, how they experience their emotions, and how they remember their collective past. Using their texts, these three writers strive to reshape southern memory, to remold the white supremacist past in order to redirect the region toward a tolerant future.;In raising these issues, Lumpkin, Smith, and Murray point to the segregated, schizophrenic nature of autobiography, using the genre as an appropriate means to discuss the southern experience. their discourse is one of division, discussed in a format itself divided.
© The Author
O'Dell, Darlene, "Sites of Southern memory: The autobiographies of Katharine Dupre Lumpkin, Lillian Smith, and Pauli Murray" (1997). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. Paper 1539623904.