For nearly four centuries, the American South has been home to a vital literary tradition. The Literature of the American South reconsiders southern writing from its seventeenth-century origins to its flourishing present. Featuring the works of eighty-seven classic, contemporary, and newly recovered writers of all genrespoetry, short fiction, drama, novels, autobiography, criticism, sermons, memoirs, journals, and lettersthis groundbreaking anthology sheds new light on the creative power of the southern imagination. This Norton anthology represents major authors in the traditionPoe, Douglass, Clemens, Ransom, Toomer, Faulkner, Penn Warren, Hellman, Welty, Williams, Jarrell, McCullers, Dickey, and O'Connor. In addition, the current, thriving state of southern literature is presented in the anthology's largest section, "The Contemporary South: 1940-Present," with works by Dorothy Allison, Lee Smith, Yusef Komunyakaa, Randall Kenan, and Henry Louis Gates Jr., among many others. The Literature of the American South opens up the concept of "southern literature" across lines of color, gender, and class, embracing both urban and agrarian cultures and bringing into the classroom the ongoing dialogues and debates over crucial questions such as southern identity, racial justice, the image of southern womanhood, and the role of art in society. "Vernacular Traditions," Section Four of the anthology, prints a range of texts that makes clear the powerful presence and literary influence of singing, preaching, and storytellingforms of expression among the most long-lived, adaptable, and vital of the vernacular traditions of the American South. Like other Norton anthologies, The Literature of the American South provides lively, informative period introductions, author headnotes, annotations that are explanatory not interpretive, and selected bibliographies.