Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in History

Department

Arch Dalrymple III Department of History

First Advisor

Jessica Wilkerson

Second Advisor

Alexandra Lindgren-Gibson

Relational Format

dissertation/thesis

Abstract

This project explores the lives of Caroline Barr and other Black women domestic workers from the 1830s to 1940 in Oxford, MS. The purpose is to challenge prevailing public and scholarly treatments of Caroline Barr that rely on romantic notions and racist perceptions of Black women domestic workers in the Old and New South. Barr is most well-known by scholars and casual readers as author William Faulkner’s “Mammy Callie”. His knowledge and memories of Caroline Barr as his devoted and faithful “mammy” has shaped subsequent academic, literary, and public interest in her. Under this framework, she is left peripheral, silenced, and fragmented. By removing her from William Faulkner’s shadow, this thesis offers a more robust interpretation of Caroline Barr as a historical subject in her own right. Re-contextualizing Barr’s life among Black women illuminates their infinite humanity in the face of racial and gendered social expectations, political subjugation, and anti-Black violence that defined the South. This project challenges the production of knowledge about Caroline Barr and other Black domestic workers in the archive and at Rowan Oak as a former plantation and contemporary public history site.

Available for download on Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Included in

History Commons

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