The Amish in the American Imagination

The Amish in the American Imagination

by David Weaver-Zercher
     
 

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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

Steve Nolt
The phenomenon of the Amish as a social icon and cultural manipulative has received little attention, and none as careful as this book. This well-written, carefully researched study offers an original and important presentation of a subject rarely explored: the function of the Amish in American society.
Publishers Weekly
At the dawn of the 20th century, representations of the Amish were rarely sympathetic and often bordered on caricature; at the beginning of the 21st, the Amish are the objects of fascination and even reverence. In The Amish in the American Imagination, David Weaver-Zercher explores how Americans have "fashioned the renowned sectarians for their own purposes to mark boundaries, express fears, support causes and, in many cases, make a profit." Weaver-Zercher does an especially fine job of revealing how Americans' anxieties about modern technology are demonstrated through their changing cultural representations of the Amish. This is a fine and well-written study, its prose a winning mixture of plain and fancy. ( Nov. 15) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Weaver-Zercher (American religious history, Messiah College) describes the cultural function of the Amish, who have become symbols of America's agrarian past. He explores how diverse groups, from Mennonites to Hollywood producers, have represented and understood the Amish and what such interpretations reveal about 20th-century mainstream American society and culture. He argues that "English" Americans took what they viewed as exotic, rural people and used it for ideological, commercial, and spiritual purposes. Illustrated with b&w images. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801866814
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2001
Series:
Center Books in Anabaptist Studies
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.31(w) x 9.24(h) x 1.03(d)

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