Hillbilly

Hillbilly : A Cultural History of an American Icon

3.91 (57 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

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. 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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 336 pages
  • 162.6 x 244.3 x 26.7mm | 612.36g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • numerous halftones
  • 019514631X
  • 9780195146318

Review quote

... a well-researched and richly illustrated tour of the hillbilly's life in the modern entertainments of music, film, television and newspaper comic pages. Scott Saul, Times Literary Supplement Hillbilly is written in a style that befits its subject matter: it is vivid but no-nonsense, delighting in a good yarn while appreciating the ironies that are often buried when a story runs in a too familiar groove and ends in a too predictable conclusion. Scott Saul, Times Literary Supplement Hillbilly is meticulous and slyly sophisticated - a clear-eyed case study of how the mass media in the US served up nostalgia in the most contemporary of forms. Scott Saul, Times Literary Supplement
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About Anthony Harkins

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

57 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 30% (17)
4 39% (22)
3 25% (14)
2 7% (4)
1 0% (0)
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