Study Guide

Cleanth Brooks - The Southernists

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The Southernists

These folks just loved them some Southern literature. Tennessee Williams, Katherine Anne Porter, and William Faulkner were among their favorites.

Look, you'll have to forgive them for getting a little rabid, but this was the era known as Modernism, and guess what? Modernists were like the popular kids ignoring the Southern writers on the playground. Apparently, being Southern wasn't cool enough. So these Southerners banded together to wax nostalgic about the demise of Southern Agrarianism, the rise of industrialism, and the decreasing popularity of mint juleps and wisteria. A true support group.

Albert Erskine and Robert Penn Warren

These two were shoe-ins for the leadership position. They were the perfect team, building the group from the ground up, and never taking any guff from anyone—not even that old meanie H.L. Mencken, who said the South never produced anything of cultural value. Ouch.

Charles W. Pipkin

The guy was a Rhodes Scholar, for crying out loud, so the Southernists basically had him on staff as a brainiac amongst brainiacs. He also helped round things out because he wasn't a literary scholar like the rest of them—he was a political scientist. He gave the Southernists some real street cred.

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