But now I see: the White southern racial conversion by Fred Hobson

By Fred Hobson

Hobson applies the time period "racial conversion narrative" to a number of autobiographies or works of hugely own social remark by means of Lillian Smith, Katharine Du Pre Lumpkin, James McBride Dabbs, Sarah Patton Boyle, Will Campbell, Larry L. King, Willie Morris, Pat Watters, and different southerners, books written among the mid-1940s and the past due Nineteen Seventies during which the authors - all items of and keen members in a harsh, segregated society - confess racial wrongdoings and are "converted," in various levels, from racism to whatever coming near near racial enlightenment. certainly, the language of a lot of those works is, Hobson issues out, the language of spiritual conversion - "sin," "guilt," "blindness," "seeing the light," "repentance," "redemption," etc. Hobson additionally appears to be like at fresh autobiographical volumes by means of Ellen Douglas, Elizabeth Spencer, and Rick Bragg to teach how the medium persists, if in a a bit diversified shape, even on the very finish of the 20 th century.

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So did a number of other earlier southerners, particularly the clergy, and most particularly abolitionists such as George Bourne of Virginia, whose 1816 work The Book and Slavery Irreconcilable"the most radical abolitionist tract yet to appear in the United States,'' according to David Brion Davisstated flatly that slavery was sin. Several other southerners in the following decades, particularly Samuel Janney of Virginia and Daniel Goodloe and Benjamin Hedrick of North Carolina, opposed slavery on moral grounds.

Vann Woodward, in Woodward, Introduction to Blair, A Southern Prophecy: The Prosperity of the South Dependent upon the Elevation of the Negro (Boston, 1964), xxvi, xxvii, xlv. Page 14 ingbut not the desire, and perhaps not the courage, to confront race in personal and autobiographical, not to mention confessional, terms. Ellen Glasgow barely mentions race in her autobiography, The Woman Within. 19 The case of Allen Tate makes the point even more convincingly. In his brief essay "A Lost Traveller's Dream," an autobiographical fragment of some twenty pages, Tate brings to the surface material which should prompt racial guilt, particularlyas Lewis P.

Once racially saved, as a good evangelist does, she sought to save others. As Scott Romine has written of Killers of the Dream, "Smith's narrative persona is evangelical in a cultural sense, attempting to invoke the culturally conditioned concept of religious sin within a social context. 2 2. Ralph McGill, "A Matter of Change," New York Times Book Review, 13 February 1955, p. D. , University of Wisconsin, 1973), 309; Ashmore, Hearts and Minds, 96; Lillian Smith, Killers of the Dream (1949; (footnote continued on next page) Page 20 As a southern voice, Smith found herself even more marginalized than most women.

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