Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon

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Oxford University Press, Nov 20, 2003 - History - 336 pages
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In this pioneering work of cultural history, historian Anthony Harkins argues that the hillbilly-in his various guises of "briar hopper," "brush ape," "ridge runner," and "white trash"-has been viewed by mainstream Americans simultaneously as a violent degenerate who threatens the modern order and as a keeper of traditional values of family, home, and physical production, and thus symbolic of a nostalgic past free of the problems of contemporary life. "Hillbilly" signifies both rugged individualism and stubborn backwardness, strong family and kin networks but also inbreeding and bloody feuds. Spanning film, literature, and the entire expanse of American popular culture, from D. W. Griffith to hillbilly music to the Internet, Harkins illustrates how the image of the hillbilly has consistently served as both a marker of social derision and regional pride. He traces the corresponding changes in representations of the hillbilly from late-nineteenth century America, through the great Depression, the mass migrations of Southern Appalachians in the 1940s and 1950s, the War on Poverty in the mid 1960s, and to the present day. Harkins also argues that images of hillbillies have played a critical role in the construction of whiteness and modernity in twentieth century America. Richly illustrated with dozens of photographs, drawings, and film and television stills, this unique book stands as a testament to the enduring place of the hillbilly in the American imagination. Hillbilly received an Honorable Mention, John G. Cawelti Book Award of the American Culture Association.

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Hillbilly: a cultural history of an American icon

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Based on Harkins's 1999 dissertation, this book provides a fascinating and expansive account of one of America's most enduring icons. Harkins (history, Western Kentucky Univ.) traces the image of the ... Read full review


Race Class Popular Culture and the Hillbilly
From Yankee Doodle to Devil Anse Literary Graphic and Ideological Progenitors 17001
Ihe Emergence of Hi
County Music and the Rise of Ezra K in Interwar America
Luke Snuffy lily Cartoon Images io depressionfa America
MidTwentiethCentury America
television Representations 19521371
From Deliverance to Cyberspace Ihe Continuing Relevance of Hilly in Contemporary America
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About the author (2003)

Anthony Harkins is an Assistant Professor in History at Western Kentucky University.

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