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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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5. Masculine Heroes   

13. Southern Renaissance

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- William Faulkner
- Zora Neale Hurston
- Flannery O'Connor
- Katherine Anne Porter
- John Crowe Ransom
- Robert Penn Warren
- Eudora Welty
- Tennessee Williams
- Thomas Wolfe
- Richard Wright
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities


The information for each author includes biographical and contextual materials and activities.

William Faulkner (1897-1962)
The man who would become one of twentieth-century American literature's best-known figures, William Cuthbert Falkner (he added the "u" to his last name later in life) was born in Albany, Mississippi. Four years later, the Falkners moved to nearby Oxford, which William would call home for the rest of his life. Faulkner's childhood was fairly... Go

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Although she would later mislead people about her age and birthplace, Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1891 in Notasulga, Alabama, and later moved to the small, all-black town of Eatonville, Florida. Hurston would later write that she spent the first years of her life blissfully unaware of the racial oppression experienced by the vast majority of... Go

Flannery O'Connor (1819-1906)
Mary Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, the daughter of devout Catholic parents of good social standing. She was educated at parochial schools in Savannah until 1938, when her father was diagnosed with lupus, a degenerative blood disease of which he died two years later. During her father's last years, the O'Connor family moved to... Go

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
"It is my firm belief," Katherine Anne Porter once said, "that all our lives we are preparing to be somebody or something, even if we do not do it consciously." Porter knew at a young age she wanted to be a writer, and she worked diligently and methodically toward that goal, achieving recognition as one of America's finest writers of short fiction by the time she reached the age of... Go

John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974)
A leading force in southern letters from the 1920s on, John Crowe Ransom was born in Pulaski, Tennessee. Educated primarily at home in his early years by his parents, Ransom enrolled in Vanderbilt University as a young man of fifteen. Ransom's academic excellence earned him a Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University in England, after which he taught high school briefly in ... Go

Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
A prominent member of the Southern Agrarians as well as an accomplished poet and novelist, Robert Penn Warren was born in southern Kentucky and educated at Vanderbilt, the University of California, Yale, and Oxford. While at Vanderbilt he became one of the "Fugitive poets" and later contributed a somewhat reluctant defense of "separate but equal" racial... Go

Eudora Welty (1909-2001)
Eudora Alice Welty was born in Jackson, Mississippi, where she lived nearly all of her life. A first-generation Mississippian, Welty grew up in comfortable circumstances and developed an early love of reading. After graduating from the local high school at age sixteen, Welty spent two years at Mississippi State College for Women before... Go

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
"A morbid shyness once prevented me from having much direct communication with people," Tennessee Williams wrote, "and possibly that is why I began to write them plays and stories." Considered by many to be America's greatest playwright, Thomas Lanier Williams III was born in Columbus, Mississippi. Though some critics see Williams's work as overly obsessed with... Go

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)
Known for his ability to produce lyrical torrents of largely autobiographical prose, Thomas Wolfe earned critical and commercial success with his first novel, Look Homeward Angel (1929), but struggled to live up to his own reputation for the rest of his short life... Go

Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Richard Wright grew up during some of the darkest days of racial segregation in the American South, and the horrors that he experienced and witnessed during that time became the material on which he built his reputation as one of the most important voices in American literature in the first half of the twentieth century. The son of black sharecroppers Nathan and... Go

Suggested Author Pairings Go

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Download the Instructor Guide PDF for this Unit. Go


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