Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in English

First Advisor

Leigh Anne Duck

Second Advisor

Kathryn McKee

Third Advisor

Jaime Harker


University of Mississippi

Relational Format



“The Politics of Being a Black Southern Belle” aims to examine media representations of Black womanhood and femininity. This thesis particularly focuses on how Black women redefine the southern belle. Film and television depictions of a national (implicitly white) femininity and womanhood have historically excluded Black women. To illuminate this history, the first chapter primarily provides background on historical representations of Black women in film. American standards of womanhood and femininity have been defined according to hegemonic culture—a culture predicated on race, class, and gender. The second chapter moves into an analysis of how Black women redefine the southern belle on shows like the Real Housewives of Atlanta and Belle Collective. The final and third chapter examines how the southern belle, womanhood, and femininity are redefined via gender, sexuality/sexual expressivity, and performance. This thesis is interested in the ways in which Black women contest these standards through their performance of the southern belle. The politics of being a southern belle are associated with how well one performs stereotypes of femininity and womanhood according to standards defined by Whiteness. The politics of being a Black southern belle are associated with how well one parodies (implicitly White) standards of femininity and womanhood in ways that subvert historically controlling images.

Available for download on Saturday, September 13, 2025