01/16/2015 03:09 PM
BATON ROUGE – This month, LSU Press published three incisive works of literary criticism
that bring new disciplines to bear on the study of Southern writing.
From her first published story to her last novel, “The Optimist’s Daughter,” Eudora
Welty wrote realistically about the shadows and radiance of love. In a meticulous
exploration of this theme, “A Dark Rose” combines new readings of Welty’s fiction with contextual information and background
drawn from a 19-year friendship with Welty. A common image in much of Welty’s fiction,
the rose has traditionally symbolized love in literature. Sally Wolff argues that
the dark rose – from the height of its brilliance to the end of its life – serves
as an apt metaphor for the dichotomies Welty presents, equally suggestive of beauty
and sadness, as well as the comic, tragic, and mysterious qualities of love.
Wolff is senior editor at the Emory Clinic and teaches “Literature and Medicine” in
the Emory University School of Medicine. She is the author of “Ledgers of History:
William Faulkner, an Almost Forgotten Friendship, and an Antebellum Plantation Diary”
and “Talking about William Faulkner.”
The invocation of blood – as both an image and a concept – has long been critical
in the formation of American racism. In “Blood Work,” Shawn Salvant mines works from the American literary canon to explore the multitude
of associations that race and blood held in the consciousness of late 19th- and early
20th-century Americans. Drawing upon race and metaphor theory, Salvant provides readings
of four classic novels featuring themes of racial identity: Mark Twain’s “Pudd’nhead
Wilson”; Pauline Hopkins’s “Of One Blood”; Frances Harper’s “Iola Leroy”; and William
Faulkner’s “Light in August.” Penetrating and insightful, the book illuminates the
broad-ranging power of the blood metaphor to script distinctly American plots – real
and literary – of racial identity.
Salvant is assistant professor of English and African American studies at the University
of Connecticut. Born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, he received his Ph.D.
in English from the University of California, Berkeley.
From the emerging field of disability studies, “Faulkner, Writer of Disability” is the first book-length consideration of impairment in William Faulkner’s life
and writing. Blending biography, textual analysis and theory in an experimental style,
Taylor Hagood explores in both form and content the constructs of normality and their
power. By framing each section of his study within a different kind of discourse –
newspaper style, biography, email and advertisement – Hagood uses the very structure
of the book to underscore the questions of normalcy prevalent in disability studies.
This rich and unconventional study offers insight into a Faulkner haunted by experiences
of disablement and compelled to narrate them in his own writing.
Hagood is associate professor of American literature at Florida Atlantic University and the author of “Faulkner’s Imperialism: Space, Place, and the Materiality of Myth and Secrecy, Magic, and the One-Act Plays of Harlem Renaissance Women Playwrights.”
Posted on Friday, January 16, 2015