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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This essay argues that the South’s reputation for religious extremism is manifested in representations of southern religion’s (af)fixation with racialized sexuality, both as “traditional” and “queer.” If the modern charge of southern religion, as represented by Jerry Falwell and his political legacy, has been to set and reinforce the mutual boundaries of “normal” sexuality and regional/national identity, Randall Kenan’s and Dorothy Allison’s works demonstrate the dangerous, and energizing, charge southern religion can lend to transgressive or “queer” reconfigurations of these identities. Centering this discourse and reflecting it back to audiences within the novel and without, these novels level a new sexual charge to regional and national imaginaries: a demand for acknowledgment and accommodation. The supple South of national imaginaries is thus again refigured in these works as the queer foundation for potential national transformation.

Keywords: religion, sexuality, race, queer, identity, community, Randall Kenan, Dorothy Allison, Jerry Falwell

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