MMLA Special Session: Urban Corruption and Rural Morality in American Literature
This panel invites proposals that explore the city/country dichotomy in Modern American literature.
With the rise of industrialism came the rise of cities. Modern American literature is rife with images of of city-life; yet, for all the allure of the city, the small town still held sway in the lives of characters and, indeed, in the lives of authors. In the works of authors such as Nella Larsen, Richard Wright, and T.S. Eliot, cities are characterized as desolate and isolating wastelands, sometimes even hell. Likewise, in the works of authors such as Willa Cather and William Faulkner, the small-town, rural landscape offered the stability of a moral center. However, in the Modern period, the clear demarcations of this dichotomy break down, with corruption wreaking havoc upon the moral center of the small-town and cities becoming spaces of morally enlightening experiences. This panel invites paper proposals that explore this dichotomy, whether in analyses of texts that uphold or break down the binary of city as bad/small-town as good.