Introduction by Brittany J. Barron
February 1, 2015 marked the launch of Beyond the Magnolias, the new online magazine that profiles remarkable Southern women of past and present. Creator and editor, Cameron Williams, says the magazine’s mission is “to take readers beyond the ‘moonlight and magnolias’ myth of Southern womanhood and draw attention to the wide variety of women and women’s experiences in the South.”
Dating back to the pre-Civil War era, myths about Southern womanhood abounded and continue today; Southern women are usually defined and limited by their sexuality. These myths are often oppressive and racially charged. Beyond the Magnolias seeks to break down these myths and challenge these false notions by showcasing Southern women for their strength and independence.
Inspired by her great-aunt Edith and the troubling story of her hysterectomy, Williams wants Beyond the Magnolias to create a space where writers share similar untold stories about Southern women. As she explains, “Southern women are more than delicate magnolia blossoms,” and their stories deserve a platform.
Where better to start than with one of the South’s greatest, most controversial women writers? The inaugural post is dedicated to the flagrant, multi-faceted Flannery O’Connor.
But Beyond the Magnolias is not limited to famous or widely known Southern women. A March 2015 piece celebrates a local celebrity, Laura Johnson, an actor and the current Executive Director of the Southern Shakespeare Festival in Tallahassee, Florida. Recently the magazine included work even closer to home: Carly Taylor’s piece pays tribute to her spitfire grandmother.
Beyond the Magnolias will feature one Southern woman a month and encourages submissions from new and established writers. Contributors are especially encouraged to write about Southern women who “break the rules and eschew convention.” You can visit the magazine at www.beyondthemagnolias.com. If you’re interested in submitting to Beyond the Magnolias, whether you are an emerging writer or one who has published before, submissions or proposals may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.