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Country People in the New South: Tennessee's Upper Cumberland

Country People in the New South: Tennessee's Upper Cumberland

by Jeanette Keith
Country People in the New South: Tennessee's Upper Cumberland

Country People in the New South: Tennessee's Upper Cumberland

by Jeanette Keith

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Using the Tennessee antievolution 'Monkey Law,' authored by a local legislator, as a measure of how conservatives successfully resisted, co-opted, or ignored reform efforts, Jeanette Keith explores conflicts over the meaning and cost of progress in Tennessee's hill country from 1890 to 1925.

Until the 1890s, the Upper Cumberland was dominated by small farmers who favored limited government and firm local control of churches and schools. Farm men controlled their families' labor and opposed economic risk taking; farm women married young, had large families, and produced much of the family's sustenance. But the arrival of the railroad in 1890 transformed the local economy. Farmers battled town dwellers for control of community institutions, while Progressives called for cultural, political, and economic modernization. Keith demonstrates how these conflicts affected the region's mobilization for World War I, and she argues that by the 1920s shifting gender roles and employment patterns threatened traditionalists' cultural hegemony. According to Keith, religion played a major role in the adjustment to modernity, and local people united to support the 'Monkey Law' as a way of confirming their traditional religious values.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807862407
Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date: 11/09/2000
Series: Studies in Rural Culture
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 312
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Jeanette Keith is associate professor of history at Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Thoughtful and thought-provoking.—Southern Cultures

Well written and provocative. . . . This book presents a fresh perspective on the New South; it would be enjoyed by anyone interested in how different groups of southerners dealt with the massive political, social, and economic changes that followed the Civil War.—Alabama Review

Deserves the respectful attention of all scholars interested in rural America, Southern history, or the cultural conflicts of the 1920s.—Historian

A fine example of southern rural history and a reminder of its considerable diversity.—Choice

This [is a] subtle and well-crafted study. . . . Her footnotes are a delight in themselves.—Journal of American History

A valuable regional study that reinvigorates the traditional picture of the southern rural uplands.—Florida Historical Quarterly

Keith's book is a valuable contribution to our understanding of what happened when the New South collided with the Old. All students of the New South and of southern agriculture should read it.—Agricultural History

Jeanette Keith has written a delicately nuanced study about modernization and resistance in the Upper Cumberland region of Tennessee.—Journal of Southern History

The heart of the book is a finely crafted and absolutely compelling account of how the drama of socioeconomic change and sociocultural persistence played itself out in one small place in the New South era. That drama, pitting traditional folk against modernizing reformers and innovating capitalists, was one of the central themes in the New South's history; and Keith's unpretentious exposition of it in the Upper Cumberland is a model that speaks persuasively, if only implicitly, to the larger theme.—Journal of East Tennessee History

Keith's engaging story portrays the rural South during a critical period with both compassion and honesty. This is a rich and compelling book, one that gets at the central dilemmas of life in this time and place.—Edward L. Ayers, University of Virginia

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