Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State

Arkansas/Arkansaw: How Bear Hunters, Hillbillies, and Good Ol' Boys Defined a State

by Brooks Blevins

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Overview

What do Scott Joplin, John Grisham, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Maya Angelou, Brooks Robinson, Helen Gurley Brown, Johnny Cash, Alan Ladd, and Sonny Boy Williamson have in common? They’re all Arkansans. What do hillbillies, rednecks, slow trains, bare feet, moonshine, and double-wides have in common? For many in America these represent Arkansas more than any Arkansas success stories do. In 1931 H. L. Mencken described AR (not AK, folks) as the “apex of moronia.” While, in 1942 a Time magazine article said Arkansas had “developed a mass inferiority complex unique in American history.” Arkansas/Arkansaw is the first book to explain how Arkansas’s image began and how the popular culture stereotypes have been perpetuated and altered through succeeding generations. Brooks Blevins argues that the image has not always been a bad one. He discusses travel accounts, literature, radio programs, movies, and television shows that give a very positive image of the Natural State. From territorial accounts of the Creole inhabitants of the Mississippi River Valley to national derision of the state’s triple-wide governor’s mansion to Li’l Abner, the Beverly Hillbillies, and Slingblade, Blevins leads readers on an entertaining and insightful tour through more than two centuries of the idea of Arkansas. One discovers along the way how one state becomes simultaneously a punch line and a source of admiration for progressives and social critics alike.

Winner, 2011 Ragsdale Award

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781557289520
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
Publication date: 02/01/2011
Pages: 250
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


Brooks Blevins is the Endowed Associate Professor of Ozark Studies at Missouri State University. He is the author of Cattle in the Cotton Fields, Hill Folks, and Lyon College, 1872–2002 and editor of Life in the Leatherwoods, the last two published by the University of Arkansas Press.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 3

Chapter 1 Creating the Bear State 11

First Interlude Why Arkansas? 37

Chapter 2 Aboard the Arkansaw Train 43

Second Interlude This Hillbilly State of Mine 65

Chapter 3 Heyday of the Hillbilly 71

Third Interlude Getting Defensive 119

Chapter 4 All Roads Lead to Bubba 137

Conclusion 185

Notes 197

Bibliography 221

Index 231

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