Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Suzanne Jones

Second Advisor

Dr. Welford D. Taylor

Third Advisor

Martha C. Edmonds


Fifty years after William Faulkner wrote Absalom, Absalom! Josephine Humphreys revisited the patriarchal metaphor of failure of the Old South in her first novel, Dreams of Sleep. In this novel, and again in her second novel, Rich in Love, Humphreys examines the ambivalent state of gender relations in the contemporary South brought on by the destabilization of a traditionally patriarchal society increasingly under economic, social, and political pressure to conform to a more egalitarian national standard. Using intergenerational relationships between women, Humphreys demonstrates how the devolution of patriarchal identity becomes the catalyst for the evolution of a self-determined female identity strong enough to balance the power of the patriarchy.