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Southern Frontier HumorNew Approaches$
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Ed Piacentino

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781617037689

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617037689.001.0001

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“Bawn in a Brier-patch” and Frontier Bred

“Bawn in a Brier-patch” and Frontier Bred

Joel Chandler Harris’s Debt to the Humor of the Old South

(p.60) “Bawn in a Brier-patch” and Frontier Bred
Southern Frontier Humor

Gretchen Martin

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the “intertextualization of southern folk culture, black and white,” the latter that of southern frontier humor, in some of Joel Chandler Harris’s lesser-known stories. It considers how Harris discernibly draws on the antebellum southern humor genre in a variety of ways in such works as “Teague Poteet: A Sketch of the Hog Mountain Range,” “A Conscript’s Christmas,” “Blue Dave,” “Balaam and his Master,” and “Where’s Duncan?” In “Where’s Duncan?” Harris employs the frame device to successfully fuse traits of southern frontier with those of the African American trickster. He also uses signifying, together with different literary traditions, to debunk nostalgic fantasies of the Old South, especially stereotypes of African Americans and non-elite whites, in order to defuse white America’s growing hostility toward blacks.

Keywords:   folk culture, southern frontier humor, Joel Chandler Harris, frame device, trickster, signifying, Old South, stereotypes, African Americans, non-elite whites

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