Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon by Anthony Harkins

By Anthony Harkins

During this pioneering paintings of cultural historical past, historian Anthony Harkins argues that the hillbilly-in his a number of guises of "briar hopper," "brush ape," "ridge runner," and "white trash"-has been seen through mainstream americans concurrently as a violent degenerate who threatens the fashionable order and as a keeper of conventional values of family members, domestic, and actual creation, and hence symbolic of a nostalgic prior freed from the issues of latest lifestyles. "Hillbilly" indicates either rugged individualism and obdurate backwardness, powerful relatives and family members networks but additionally inbreeding and bloody feuds. Spanning movie, literature, and the complete expanse of yankee pop culture, from D. W. Griffith to hillbilly song to the net, Harkins illustrates how a twin of the hillbilly has continually served as either a marker of social derision and nearby satisfaction. He strains the corresponding alterations in representations of the hillbilly from late-nineteenth century the US, during the nice melancholy, the mass migrations of Southern Appalachians within the Nineteen Forties and Nineteen Fifties, the struggle on Poverty within the mid Nineteen Sixties, and to the current day. Harkins additionally argues that photos of hillbillies have performed a severe position within the development of whiteness and modernity in 20th century the United States. Richly illustrated with dozens of images, drawings, and movie and tv stills, this distinct booklet stands as a testomony to the iconic position of the hillbilly within the American mind's eye.

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Extra info for Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon

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At a time when political and intellectual leaders in America loudly advocated the theory of Social Darwinism, the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon people, and the strict hierarchy of the world’s races, it is not surprising that these authors stressed the genetic, linguistic, physical, and cultural “Anglo-Saxonism” of the Appalachian people. ”48 In promoting their vision of southern mountaineers as “one hundred percent Americans,” social “redeemers” challenged the prevailing idea that Appalachians were descendants of European rabble.

The work of Justin O. Howard, a New York political cartoonist commissioned to draw the accompanying illustrations for the original 1867 edition of Sut Lovingood, came closest to an accurate depiction of a hardscrabble southern mountaineer and to the standardized depiction of the hillbilly in the twentieth century. He presented Sut as a long and lean figure with an elongated nose and hands, bare feet, and attire consisting of ill-fitting overalls and a slouch hat who looks on bemusedly as his naked father flees from a swarm of angry bees (fig.

9 From Yankee Doodle to “Devil Anse” 17 Images of Mountain People—Appalachia, 1780–1865 In addition to ostensibly accurate depictions of actual rural white people, a second influential stream of literature about impoverished southern whites was the stories by writers collectively labeled (by later scholars) “southwestern humorists,” which freely blended historical reality with literary invention. They featured characters who, in both look and deed, were important prototypes for the coming hillbilly persona.

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