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These five essays from the Walter Prescott Webb Memorial Lectures explore the many ways Southern writers have shaped and been shaped by their region. Susan A. Eacker explains how South Carolinian essayist and poet Louisa McCord came to believe slavery was necessary and good within a world that would forever be inhabited by violent men and physically (but not intellectually) defenseless women. Christopher Morris examines the relationship between the economic development in the South and the humor of writers such as Augustus B. Longstreet and Johnson Jones Hooper. Bertram Wyatt-Brown discusses the connection between depression and literary creativity. This relationship has had both glorious and tragic consequences for Southern letters - glorious for the many outstanding achievements by Southern writers, tragic for the literature that might have been but for the prolonged depression, drunkenness, and early death met by so many of them. Anne Goodwyn Jones's contribution is a penetrating deconstruction of gender in the Southern literary renaissance, while Charles Joyner offers an eloquent look at Nat Turner's insurrection of 1831 and William Styron's 1967 novel about the event, providing a much-needed reassessment of Styron's controversial decision to write The Confessions of Nat Turner in the first person.