Dr. Thadious Davis

A native of New Orleans, Dr. Thadious M. Davis has focused on the American South and its literary production throughout her career. Her interdisciplinary scholarship on race, gender, and region with attention to history, law, and geography received the 2020 Richard Beale Davis Award for Lifetime Achievement in Southern Studies from The Society for the Study of Southern Literature.

Institute Discussion

I plan to explore the materiality and visuality of the spatial in O’Connor by focusing on the body and the mind as representations of spatial cartography. Spatial organization, visible in the posture and structure of the human body and its mapped positionality, in O’Connor’s fiction and cartoons suggest ways of analyzing the close or distant relations between human beings and their organization of space to represent both their assessment of their own bodies and their social relations. In one session, “Framing Body,” I would highlight reading the body as a site of inscription for specific modes of subjectivity that visualize, delineate, or obscure individuality in set categories or spatial maps. In the second session, “Minding Space,” I would examine intertextual spaces of mind that allow for a discourse on difference that is multiple rather than binary and that emerges from spatial geographies located within O’Connor and adjacent work.

Why O’Connor?

One of the inimitable fiction writers of the last century, Flannery O’Connor remains extraordinary not only in the uniqueness of her imagination but also especially in the complexity of her vision. Standing outside on the inside of the conceivable structures of approach to her body of work, she remains at once a difficult and rewarding read. Her narratives as subject and her backstory as object continue to incite fresh critical analysis particularly from the methodological and theoretical perspectives that have evolved in the late twentieth century and proliferated in the twenty-first.