Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Ryan, Timothy

Degree Name

Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy)

Legacy Department

Department of English


This dissertation traces formulations of modernity, national and regional identity, and economy in the literature and film of Russia and the U.S. South from serfdom to the Second World War. Studying serf and slave narratives, Russian Realist and Southern Renaissance novels such as The Brothers Karamazov (1879), Demons (1872), The Sound and the Fury (1929), Tobacco Road (1932), and Wise Blood (1952), and American and Soviet films such as Volga, Volga (1938) and Cabin in the Sky (1943), this examination locates within Russo-Southern discourses a shared interest in striking out against Western or Northern epistemologies to assert a “peripheral” modernity in opposition to dominant modes. Alternately constructing each other as literary or cinematic forebears, spiritual siblings united against the hegemonies that divided them, or models to emulate or aspire to, authors and directors in these two regions constructed various discourses on their kinship with one another and used them to speak back to their own pre-industrial pasts and to the traditional centers of modernity at their borders. This dissertation studies both how their shared interventions in modern discourses are constitutive of the modernist response to industrialization and urbanization and the broader utility of studying regional writers and directors as participants in global counter-epistemologies.


182 pages




Northern Illinois University

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