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Take on the South


What Was the Most Influential 20th-Century Southern Novel?


Watch What Was the Most Influential 20th-Century Southern Novel? on PBS. See more from wrlk.

Dr. Edgar, Dr. Trudier Harris, Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and Dr. Noel Polk, Professor Emeritus, Mississippi State University, debated about which Southern novel has been the most influential. Viewers were able to vote in our online poll. Please see the final results below. (Airdate 2009)

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Debaters


Trudier Harris

Dr. Trudier Harris
Professor of English and Comparative Literature
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Trudier Harris is J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she teaches African American literature and folklore. She earned her B.A. from Stillman College and her M.A. (1972) and Ph.D. (1973) from The Ohio State University. She taught at the College of William and Mary for six years before joining the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her books include From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature (1982), Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary Lynching and Burning Rituals (1984), Black Women in the Fiction of James Baldwin (1985, which won the 1987 College Language Association Creative Scholarship Award), Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison (1991), The Power of the Porch: The Storyteller's Craft in Zora Neale Hurston, Gloria Naylor, and Randall Kenan (1996), Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature (2001), and South of Tradition: Essays on African American Literature (2002). Her memoir, Summer Snow: Reflections from a Black Daughter of the South, appeared from Beacon Press in 2003, and her latest book, The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African American Writers and the South, is forthcoming from LSU Press in June 2009.

Noel Polk

Dr. Noel Polk
Professor Emeritus
Mississippi State University

Dr. Noel Polk is a native Mississippian. BA MA Mississippi College 1965, 1966. PhD. U of South Carolina 1970. English Professor at University of Southern Mississippi for 27 years before moving to Mississippi State University in 2004 to teach and to edit The Mississippi Quarterly. Professor Emeritus as of August 31, 2008, but retains the editorship of The Mississippi Quarterly. 81-82 was Professeur Associé at the University of Strasbourg, France; Spring 1996 Professeur Invité at the University of Brittany 2, in Rennes France; shorter teaching stints at universities in Poland and Japan. Have published and lectured widely on Faulkner, Welty, and other southern writers throughout this country, Europe, Japan, and the former Soviet Union. Major publications include William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun: A Textual and Critical STudy; Children of the Dark House: Text and Context in Faulkner; Eudora Welty A Bibliography of Her Work; Outside the Southern Myth; and Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition.

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Poll


Thanks for voting in our online poll, and letting us know which Southern novel you felt was the most influential. Please see the final results below:
Take on the South Poll Results

How were the top 20 novels selected?
Profs. Polk, Harris and six faculty members from USC's Institute for Southern Studies were asked to submit fifteen Southern novels they considered to be the most influential. This poll lists the 20 novels mentioned the most times.

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