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

By Anthony Harkins

During this pioneering paintings of cultural heritage, historian Anthony Harkins argues that the hillbilly-in his numerous guises of "briar hopper," "brush ape," "ridge runner," and "white trash"-has been seen via mainstream americans at the same time as a violent degenerate who threatens the fashionable order and as a keeper of conventional values of kin, domestic, and actual construction, and hence symbolic of a nostalgic prior freed from the issues of latest existence. "Hillbilly" indicates either rugged individualism and obdurate backwardness, powerful family members and relatives networks but in addition inbreeding and bloody feuds. Spanning movie, literature, and the full expanse of yank pop culture, from D. W. Griffith to hillbilly song to the web, Harkins illustrates how a dead ringer for the hillbilly has continuously served as either a marker of social derision and local satisfaction. He lines the corresponding alterations in representations of the hillbilly from late-nineteenth century the US, in the course of the nice melancholy, the mass migrations of Southern Appalachians within the Nineteen Forties and Fifties, the battle on Poverty within the mid Nineteen Sixties, and to the current day. Harkins additionally argues that photos of hillbillies have performed a severe function within the building of whiteness and modernity in 20th century the USA. Richly illustrated with dozens of images, drawings, and movie and tv stills, this designated e-book stands as a testomony to the iconic position of the hillbilly within the American mind's eye.

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Later artists and stage and screen costume designers would incorporate buckskin, fur or coonskin caps, and longbarreled rifles into their representations of these characters (fig. 3). In addition, the idea of figures who carve civilization out of a hostile wilderness would live on throughout the twentieth century in more positive accounts of mountaineers as spirited but noble people who preserve pioneer skills and ways of life in an industrial-era frontier. 17 Travel accounts of antebellum visitors to the southern Appalachian mountains were less mythologized sources of the developing image of the southern mountaineer.

27 Like Sut Lovingood’s early illustrators, the New York artist had no idea what an Arkansan squatter should look like and drew a gypsy-like figure, barefoot, in loose fitting clothes, and with a bandanna tied around his head akin to depictions of impoverished transients (fig. 7). When writer H. C. Mercer described the tale in 1896, its meaning had changed yet again. In this version, both the squatter and the traveler were portrayed as products of the wilderness, one a rugged pioneer, the other a degraded squatter, and the message of the juxtaposition of class between the two was largely eliminated.

Murfree’s writings solidified earlier notions about the eastern Tennessee mountains, and the Appalachian Mountain region more generally, as a land of illiterate but moral and proud people living in total isolation from modern America, but she infused her characters with a general tone of melancholy. Her plaintive approach helped redefine the mountains as a region existing in a perpetual past, the opposite of the energized, fastpaced world of urban industrializing America. 32 Although Murfree presented a somewhat more accurate and sympathetic portrait of mountain people and society than did many local color writers, all of these writers recapitulated and expanded upon the themes of earlier literary portrayals of poor whites and backwoodsmen.

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