Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in English

First Advisor

Jay D. Watson

Second Advisor

Jaime L. Harker


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



My thesis takes into consideration the scope of eugenics ideologies and their influence on literature specifically two mid-twentieth century authors from the U.S. South Carson McCullers and Eudora Welty. I contend that both writers engage with eugenics rhetoric challenging and subverting the prevailing ideology of the day albeit in differing ways. McCullers and Welty address different facets of eugenics rhetoric in their novels— namely the nature of “defect” and the criteria for “fitness” for “citizenship.” This thesis interrogates the ways in which these writers develop rhetorical strategies for resisting eugenics ideologies in their respective novels Reflections in a Golden Eye and Delta Wedding. I argue that both writers reject eugenicists’ valuations of worth instead suggesting alternate means of determining defectiveness and fitness.

Available for download on Wednesday, February 16, 2022