The Amish in the American Imagination

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JHU Press, 2001 - Religion - 280 pages
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Enveloped in mystery, Amish culture has remained a captivating topic within mainstream American culture. In The Amish in the American Imagination, David Weaver-Zercher explores how Americans throughout the twentieth century reacted to and interpreted the Amish. Through an examination of a variety of visual and textual sources, Weaver-Zercher explores how diverse groups -- ranging from Mennonites to Hollywood producers -- represented and understood the Amish.

Unlike previous studies that focus on Amish interaction with the broader American culture, The Amish in the American Imagination emphasizes how the various members of that larger culture see the Amish and, in turn, what these interpretations reveal about twentieth-century mainstream American culture and society. Weaver-Zercher argues that, through different representations of the Amish, "English" Americans appropriated what they viewed as exotic, rural Americans for ideological, commercial, and spiritual purposes. This engaging book thus identifies the various functions the Amish served for their American neighbors, most of whom led lives far removed from the Amish existence they imagined.

  

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Contents

Claiming America Pennsylvania Germans and the Amish 19001915
21
Civilizing the Amish The Present as a Usable Past
47
Consuming the Simple Life Buying and Selling the Amish in Postwar America
82
Defining the Faith Mennonites and the Amish Culture Market 19501975
122
Projecting the Amish Witness and the Problem of Amish Voice
152
Conclusion
181
Notes
197
Selected Bibliography
249
Index
269
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About the author (2001)

David Weaver-Zercher is associate professor of American religious history at Messiah College.

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