Toward a New South/a New Southern Studies

deadline for submissions: 
February 5, 2024
full name / name of organization: 
Society for the Study of Southern Literature
contact email: 

Deadline Extended! Abstracts available for submission until February 5!


Society for the Study of Southern Literature Conference

June 23-26, 2024

Courtyard by Marriott Beachfront

Gulfport, MS

Theme: "Reconstruction(s)"

The US South has been forged and reforged in both the national and regional imagination for generations. This imagined place has long been divorced from what is real. An imagined South leaves little room for the layers, the variety--the multiplicities that exist there. And yet, even within the south, this imaginary South is reproduced as a monolithic place and culture. This is done through literature and film, depictions, and story/mythos. While scholars reach in and explore these texts, there is created a cycle wherein the only things recognized as "Southern" are the monolithic, recreations of a South that does not exist. In order for the US south to be portrayed as it really is--as varied and multiple, as a collection of souths--creative writers, literary critics, scholars, and publishers must work together. 

In an effort to construct this work in real time as an example, I invite creative writers whose work they deem southern (by their own definition and experience, particularly if it would go against or not be congruent with that which is traditionally southern by law of the canon), to submit abstracts for their work. I am open to work from all creative writers but would prefer a show of fiction. Creative works can be published or unpublished. The work you submit an abstract for should be short story length, though it can be an excerpt from a longer work. I then also invite southern scholars to submit a simple abstract of interest in studying southern literature. This panel will see creative writers and scholars paired, where creative writers will share their work and their corresponding scholar will prepare a response to it. In effect, this panel would work toward creating a new southern literary criticism in real time. Reconstructing what we know to be southern literature, how we talk about literature in general, and forgoing the canon in an effort to sidestep its white, male, cisgender, heteronormative, able-bodied, and colonial power. 

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words plus a brief (100 words or less) bio to Emily Fontenot at by January 26, 2024. Please direct all questions here as well.