Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in English



First Advisor

Annette Trefzer

Second Advisor

Kirsten Dellinger

Third Advisor

Jaime L. Harker

Relational Format



This dissertation examines the literary works of the two Southern women writers, Zora Neale Hurston and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, based on the cultural contexts of the 1930s and the 1940s. It discusses how the two writers' works are in dialogue with each other, and with the particular historical period in which the South had gone through many social, economical, and cultural changes. Hurston and Rawlings, who became friends with each other beyond their racial background in the segregated South, shared physical and social mobility and the interest in the Southern folk cultures. They wrote fiction about the region and its folk cultures while continuously moving back and forth between their Southern homes and Northern big cities. I argue that the two writers' mobility and their personal friendship enabled them to present the South from the Depression through the post-war years not necessarily as a site of racial oppression and segregation but as a type of contact zone where people with different cultural backgrounds meet and interact. Pairing the representative work of Hurston and Rawlings in each chapter, I examine how each text depict different shades of cultural contact zones found and created in the contemporary South despite of segregation and rigid social boundaries.



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