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In this project I set out to apply contemporary social theory to the three most canonical works by American writer Carson McCullers. It creates three distinct theoretical lenses that all emphasize different themes and issues in each book while still incorporating minor characters and intersectional thinking. First, I read The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter through a framework that synthesizes disability theory with the work of philosopher Michel Foucault. Second, I trace the development of The Member of the Wedding’s protagonist’s sense of her own whiteness by working with philosopher Frantz Fanon, aesthetic theorist Richard Dyer, and literary critic and author Toni Morrison. In the final section, I analyze instances of normative disruption, queer utopia, and failure in The Ballad of the Sad Café. Through the combination of these readings, I argue that McCullers’s minimal scholarly attention is undeserved, and that her books still shed light on social issues of interest to contemporary theorists.
Thomas, Brian, ""A jail you could not see”: New Approaches to Identity in Carson McCullers" (2017). English Honors Papers. 3.