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Katherine Henninger
Louisiana State University (Baton Rouge, LA 70808-4600)
Southern Childhood in U.S. Literature and Film

A book-length study on representations of childhood in southern literature and film.

Made Strangely Beautiful is an interdisciplinary rhetorical analysis of tropes of childhood in literature and film of or about the South. Rather than the experiences of actual children, southern or not, I am interested in how ideas of childhood, southern-ness, and American-ness have been made through and against each other. A long tradition of strangeness (queer, grotesque, Other) attached to representations of the South is reflected in representations of its children. But as much as a peculiar South has served to contrast a normative nation, the South--particularly, I argue, its children--has been and continues to be central in narratives drawing region and nation together. Figures of both innocence and corruption, purity and ambiguity, southern children are made to embody the fissures of race, sexuality, gender expression, and class that threaten to undermine liberal rhetorics of U.S. national identity, and also to represent the nation’s best hope of transcending those divisions.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Literature; Film History and Criticism; U.S. Regional Studies

Fellowships for University Teachers

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 7/31/2018