Date of Award

Spring 5-3-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

John Burrison

Second Advisor

Pearl McHaney

Third Advisor

Chris Kocela


The clash of folk and popular cultures is central to the work of contemporary Southeastern American author Bobbie Ann Mason. Though Mason is often classified as a Kmart realist because of her style’s emphasis on the minutia of mass-produced culture, a more nuanced understanding of her work can be reached via a focus on the way she explores the complex, evolving relationship between folklore and popular culture. This thesis is a folkloristic literary analysis of selected Mason fiction and memoir. It examines the interplay between homogenized American popular culture, region-specific rural Southeastern American folk culture, gender roles, subregional history, and twentieth-century economics in order to explore and articulate the cultural collision of folk traditions and popular culture defining Mason’s rural/small-town Western Kentucky landscape. I highlight Mason’s portrayal of intangible folklore (folk speech and behavioral customs) and material folklore (foodways and quilting) in Nancy Culpepper Stories, “Love Life,” and Clear Springs.