Agrarian Catholics: The Catholic Turn in Southern Literature

Thomas F. Haddox

in Fears and Fascinations

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780823225217
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823236947 | DOI:
Agrarian Catholics: The Catholic Turn             in Southern Literature

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Even after several decades of attention to her work, Flannery O'Connor's critics can be grouped into those who read her primarily through a theological lens and those who focus primarily on her regional identification. If theological readings tend to dilute the cultural specificity of O'Connor's work, “southern” readings of O'Connor tend to reduce her religious concerns to a mere by-product of the South's “Christ-haunted” cultural context. Implicit in both kinds of readings is the notion that O'Connor is an anomalous figure, central both to southern and Catholic literary traditions, but comfortably situated in neither. O'Connor, however, saw her identities as southerner and Catholic neither as complementary nor as merely additive. By identifying the “best traditions” of the South and the church as “the same”, O'Connor suggests that one should not be deceived by the widespread anti-Catholicism of the twentieth-century Protestant South.

Keywords: cultural specificity; literary traditions; southern literature; Catholic Church; Protestant South

Chapter.  14353 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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