Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. William Ellenberg
William Faulkner may have claimed ownership of Yoknapatawpha County as a fictional destination whose inhabitants he had the exclusive right to mine for literary inspiration, but not even the sole proprietor and cartographer himself could have accounted for the transcendence of his literarily- and cartographically-delineated social stratums beyond the boundaries of his 2400-mile mythical county. Superimposed over a real map of Lafayette County, Mississippi, his birthplace and the very root of his modernist and Southern gothic canon, Yoknapatawpha is no more fictional than racism and gender inequality in the South. Faulkner’s maps themselves—of which there are two official copies, the first appearing in the back matter of the 1936 edition of Absalom, Absalom! and the second appearing in 1946’s The Portable Faulkner—have evolved over time to reflect the alterations of the land itself as it undergoes the shift into modernity. With the second, reduced printing in The Portable Faulkner, the map loses its nuance and much of Faulkner’s descriptions which lend meaning and depth to the maps, just as Yoknapatawpha and Jefferson do when their social strata begin to conglomerate. The maps, and the disparity between them, reveal a cartographical geography that plots the geospatial relationships between social classes in the post-Civil War South while upending the historical conceptions of these relationships.
Owens, Margaret R., "Faulknerian Social Strata Meridians in Yoknapatawpha County: A Study in Literary Geography" (2018). Honors Theses. 25.