Construction of the past: The memory and thought of Herbert Ravenel Sass, Archibald Rutledge, and Ben Robertson

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Harrelson, Alan James
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Being a work of southern intellectual history, this thesis explores the twentieth century literature of three South Carolina authors. The writings of Herbert Ravenel Sass, Archibald Rutledge, and Ben Robertson illustrate the existence of a literary movement within interwar South Carolina in favor of the southern conservative ethos. After 1930, the Vanderbilt Agrarian movement began to wane quickly as its organization shattered. Many of the Vanderbilt writers abandoned their original efforts and several eventually left the South to pursue careers elsewhere. In South Carolina, a noticeable movement continued well into the 1950s. The Agrarians presented disparate and confusing arguments occasionally in favor of a southern yeoman culture, and at other times a culture of large estates and planters, two notions that created two disparate ideas of the South. The Carolina authors, with the qualified exception of Ben Robertson, overwhelmingly promoted a set of aristocratic values and a memory of the plantation aristocracy. To them, an image and conception of the plantation was the primary, defining feature of South Carolina's southern past. My argument that a cohesive traditionalist literary movement existed in South Carolina rests upon the significant degree to which these authors promoted this vision of the states past, an encompassing vision that described the origins and character of what they sought to conserve.
Rutledge, Archibald Hamilton, 1883-1973; Sass, Herbert Ravenel, 1884-1958; Robertson, Ben, 1903-1943; American literature -- South Carolina; Memory -- Social aspects -- South Carolina