This thesis seeks to understand the South as a space through which the contested bodies of two literary characters and the men who authored them can be more fully explored: the Ex- Colored Man in James Weldon Johnson's The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and Nicholas Worth in Walter Hines Page's The Southerner; each appearing within an early twentieth-century novel masquerading as an autobiography. These bodies serve to help us understand how the regional Other of the South has inflicted itself on individuals living in the South and caused an irreparable fracture to the characters' identities forcing them into passing roles in lives they do not see as their own. This passing allows the characters to adopt a new persona in the communities that they inhabit, but never permits them to inhabit new bodies themselves. They are always left with the perception that they do not corporeally belong and the anxiety that the "truth" about their body might be exposed at any moment. Ultimately, the thesis also challenges the notion of passing as merely racial and explores other forms of passing, especially ones dealing with geography (i.e. a Southerner passing as a Northerner) and explains that the New Southern Studies needs to find ways to examine the South that are not dependent on racial binaries.



College and Department

Humanities; English



Date Submitted


Document Type





The Southerner, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, New Southern Studies