Looking for "The South" in the Eighteenth Century
This panel considers the category of ―the South‖ in the 1700s. During this period, Anglo-American societies such as those of Virginia and Maryland bore the stigma of the "extended Caribbean" complex, which stretched from Brazil to the Chesapeake and found its identity in a shared tropical climate, dependence upon plantation slavery, and stereotypes of creole excess. At the same time, these societies were part of a "New
Republic" stretching from Georgia to New England, and they had to align themselves with Whiggish Revolutionary rhetoric. Conflicting historical, political, and racial discourses on
identity in these different iterations of "the South" destabilized the categories of white and non-white, of free and un-free, during this period, necessitating instrumental fictions to resolve such crises. These British fictions posited different notions of the American colonists' British origins, which is why Southern identity and theorizations of the South are appropriate subjects for a British-centric conference. Traditionally, Southern Studies has focused on the literature and history of white writers in the Old South from the nineteenth century onward; the New Southern Studies has opened up twentieth-century
Southern literature to new paradigms such as the "Caribbean South" and the "Global South." The complex interactions between the coastal Southern colonies of North America, the West Indies, and the Early Southwest, however, suggest much is to be gained from considering the Caribbean South or the Trans-Atlantic South as an eighteenth-century phenomenon. This panel will feature three twenty-minute papers.