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Class, Whiteness, and Southern Literature explores the role that representations of poor white people play in shaping both middle-class American identity and major American literary movements and genres across the long twentieth century. Jolene Hubbs reveals that, more often than not, poor white characters imagined by middle-class writers embody what better-off people are anxious to distance themselves from in a given moment. Poor white southerners are cast as social climbers during the status-conscious Gilded Age, country rubes in the modern era, racist obstacles to progress during the civil rights struggle, and junk food devotees in the health-conscious 1990s. Hubbs illuminates how Charles Chesnutt, William Faulkner, Flannery O'Connor, Dorothy Allison, and Barbara Robinette Moss swam against these tides, pioneering formal innovations with an eye to representing poor white characters in new ways.