Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Southern Studies

First Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Second Advisor

Catarina Passidomo Townes

Third Advisor

Kathryn McKee


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



ABSTRACT This thesis is an examination of female authored, post-soul, Afro-Southern speculative fiction. The specific texts being examined are My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due, Stigmata by Phyllis Alesia Perry, and Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. Through exploration of these texts, I posit two large arguments. First, I posit that this thesis as a collective work illustrates how women-authored Afro-Southern speculative fiction based in the post-soul era embodies and champions womanist politics and praxis critical for liberation through speculative elements. Second, I assert that this thesis is demonstrative of how this particular type of fiction showcases the importance of specificity of setting and reflects other, often erased facets of African American identity and realities by centering the experiences of contemporary Black Southerners. This thesis also attends to several smaller arguments that may be particular to an individual chapter or chapters. First, Afro-Southern cultural markers are critical to freedom-making and identity-making processes. Next, speculative elements are used to connect post-soul readers to complicated pasts as well as to explore how the past influences the present and the future. Additionally, the texts disrupt the erasure of modern rural and small town Black Southerners. Finally, the employment of superficial examples of integration in connection to ideas surrounding linear progress is critiqued. Ultimately, this thesis endeavors to present a complicated contemporary South and the possibilities that it holds for change.



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