Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
In “Friends of Bill F.: Alcohol, Recovery, and Social Progress in Southern Fiction,” I argue that many southern writers use the trope of drunkenness to investigate the South’s often hesitant stance toward social change. The overwhelming presence of hard drinking in southern fiction is so ubiquitous that it becomes nearly invisible, and what distinguishes twentieth century southern literary representations of alcohol from their antecedents is how overconsumption reflects a dis-ease in both the individual drinker and the region as a whole. Emerging from the concept of diseased drinking is the idea of recovery, and by foregrounding recovery language alongside depictions of addiction, these texts privilege drinking-recovery as the metaphor through which to signify how southerners confronted progress. My intervention into the discourse of the South and modernity traces the literary contours of alcoholism alongside the emerging Sobriety Movement that became popularized with the rise of Alcoholics Anonymous, to suggest that recovery from alcoholism perhaps anticipates individual and social progress. I argue that progress remained conceptually problematic for writers like William Faulkner, Robert Penn Warren, and Cormac McCarthy who saw the South’s tepid relationship to social change as hypocritical.
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Picken, Conor Adam, "Friends of Bill F. : alcohol, recovery, and social progress in southern fiction" (2013). LSU Doctoral Dissertations. 3649.