Type of Document Dissertation Author Jones, Debra Calhoun Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-05032006-172442 Title Jo Carson's Contribution to the Swamp Gravy Recipe Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Karen Laughlin Committee Chair Hunt Hawkins Committee Member Jerrilyn McGregory Committee Member Linda Saladin-Adams Committee Member Stuart Baker Committee Member Keywords
- Community Performance
- Swamp Gravy
- Jo Carson
- Folklife Play
Date of Defense 2006-04-26 Availability unrestricted AbstractSwamp Gravy, an oral history/community performance project in Colquitt, Georgia, has been named Georgia’s “Official Folk Life Play,” received critical acclaim, earned grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Georgia Arts Council, the Woodruff Foundation, among others. This dissertation, Jo Carson’s Contribution to the Swamp Gravy Recipe, introduces the project, examines the elements found in its plays, and discusses the writing of Jo Carson as an important component. She shapes disparate stories into unified scripts, using folk life details and a feminist perspective. Her writing results in folk life plays and southern drama, accommodates large amateur casts and insures the success of the community performance project.
The first chapter looks at Carson’s writing before Swamp Gravy to identify characteristic elements of her work. Her poetry, children’s books, short stories, and plays share oral history and folk life elements, which lend verisimilitude. Her first published work, a volume of poems, resonates with the stories and speech of ordinary people while Carson fills her children’s books and short story collection with colloquialisms of southern speech and folk life details to create a sense of place. In her earlier plays, she adds strains of southern drama and liberal feminism and establishes structural, thematic origins for the Swamp Gravy plays.
The next four chapters discuss how oral history, folk life, southern drama, and liberal feminism elements from earlier works inform the Swamp Gravy plays. Chapter Six presents Dr. Richard Owen Geer’s community performance model and the restrictions it places on Carson’s writing.
The conclusion looks at the continuation of the Swamp Gravy phenomenon in Colquitt, evaluates its impact on other communities, and tracks Carson’s work after Swamp Gravy. This dissertation hopes to promote an academic awareness of Jo Carson as a playwright and to establish Swamp Gravy as an influential community performance project.
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