Locals on Local Color: Imagining Identity in Appalachia

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Locals on Local Color: Imagining Identity in Appalachia

by Katie Algeo
Southern Cultures, Vol. 9, No. 4: Winter 2003

"Movies, television, comic strips, and postcards feature the lanky, gun-toting, grizzle-bearded man with a jug of moonshine in one hand and a coon dog at his feet."

Certain Appalachian stereotypes were widely accepted by the early twentieth century, yet most people in the United States had never visited the region. Although information about the area was limited and came largely through a few channels, a general consensus about Appalachia nonetheless emerged in the popular culture: Appalachia was a place apart, a different and sometimes dangerous place, a place whose people possessed only the mere rudiments of civilization. Largely created by outsiders, this popular image of the region emerged during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in the writing of short-story authors, novelists, missionaries, social workers, handicraft organizers, and academics whose work forged a remarkably enduring stereotype of the region and its people.