Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies


Southern Studies

First Advisor

Jaime L. Harker

Second Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Third Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Relational Format



This thesis focuses on the performance of southern femininity in contemporary southern popular culture, specifically prescriptive literature and reality television. Both texts provide valuable insight into how southern femininity is disciplined and subverted by individual women and the public. Humorous prescriptive literature in the first chapter provides the data necessary to delineate key markers of “ideal” southern femininity and how primarily elite white women perform it. The second chapter focuses on the show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and how June Shannon opened up a liminal space for thinking about alternative southern femininities before ultimately closing it with her scandal in late 2014. It is primarily concerned about how women embody southern femininity and how other southern women police that performance. While individual women find personal empowerment through the practice of southern femininity, collectively it is a dangerous performance that maintains race and class boundaries and is exclusionary far more than inclusionary. It depends on both the hyper-feminized performance and the seemingly non-feminine performance. This thesis explores how the two act in concert and opposition and attempts to complicate the question of whether or not true subversion is possible.



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