Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon

Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon

by Anthony Harkins

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

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. 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780198033431
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 11/20/2003
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 7 MB

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

Introduction: Race, Class, Popular Culture, and "the Hillbilly"3
Chapter 1From Yankee Doodle to "Devil Anse": Literary, Graphic, and Ideological Progenitors, 1700-189913
Chapter 2The Emergence of "Hillbilly," 1900-192047
Chapter 3Country Music and the Rise of "Ezra K. Hillbilly" in Interwar America71
Chapter 4Luke, Snuffy, & Abner: Hillbilly Cartoon Images in Depression-Era America103
Chapter 5Hollywood's Hillbilly in Mid-Twentieth-Century America141
Chapter 6The Hillbilly in the Living Room: Television Representations, 1952-1971173
Epilogue: From Deliverance to Cyberspace: The Continuing Relevance of "Hillbilly" in Contemporary America205
Non-Print Cultural Productions309
General Index311

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