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Vol. 23, No. 1: Appalachia

  //  spring 2017

Country Queers in Central Appalachia. Icon and Identity at Dollywood. The Soundscape of Harlan County, U.S.A. A Hindu temple in West Virginia, and more. Our Appalachia issue is guested edited by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt.

Table of Contents

Front Porch: Appalachia

by Harry Watson
“Appalachia is still itself, even as it changes, even as so many of us have gotten it wrong.” As far back as colonial days, all the experts agreed that the Mountain South was different, even when they couldn’t explain how or why. Observers often blamed degenerate settlers. Royal governor Alexander Spotswood claimed that Virginia’s mountaineers »

Trying to Get Appalachia Less Wrong

A Modest Approach

by Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt
“Regularly, Appalachia is imagined to need a funeral, to be already gone, to cry out for remembrance.” When the editors of Southern Cultures asked me to guest edit a special issue on Appalachia, I said yes immediately. Not only is western North Carolina my family home, but Appalachian Studies is my most long-standing scholarly home. »

Documentary Noise

The Soundscape of Barbara Kopple's Harlan County, U.S.A.

by Grace Hale
The most shocking moment in Harlan County, U.S.A. (1976) looks at first like an abstract painting. An organic shape, small and shiny and pinkish white, sits on a dark, rough ground. Even after an enormous disembodied finger pokes into the frame, the visual alone remains indecipherable. Previous scenes have shown striking miner Lawrence Jones lying »
Photo Essay

Almost Heaven

by Aaron Blum
The New Vrindaban is a Krishna community in the hills of Appalachia, the vision of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder and spiritual leader of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness. The New Vrindaban in West Virginia is the realization of Prabhupada’s dream to establish a holy pilgrimage site in North America. It was »

Icon and Identity

Dolly Parton's Hillbilly Appeal

by Graham Hoppe
In the early years of Parton’s career she played a bit of the hometown girl with starry eyes. It seems hard to imagine now, but in early interviews with national figures like Johnny Carson and Barbara Walters, Parton seems earnest, bashful, and sometimes even a little embarrassed, but—and this is important—never outmatched. She bends the »

Banjo Boy

Masculinity, Disability, and Difference in Deliverance

by Anna Creadick
“I’d like to say it’s nobody’s fault, but it is. It’s James Dickey’s fault. Or John Boorman’s. Or both.” I’m what you might call a “closeted” banjo player, so this may well be my coming-out paper. My parents were hippie folkies, and I grew up in the Appalachian region marinating in so much old-time string »

“Well, We’re Fabulous and We’re Appalachians, So We’re Fabulachians”

by Rae Garringer
Country Queers in Central Appalachia Five years ago I moved home to the farm where I was raised in southeastern West Virginia. For a decade I had bought into the dominant narrative in LGBTQIA spaces that because I am queer I could never live back home. I was told—in not so many words—that I could »
Photo Essay

In-Between the Color Lines with a Spy Camera

The Appalachian Urban Folk Photography of Isaiah Rice

by Darin Waters, Gene Hyde, Kenneth Betsalel
After her mother Jeroline Rice passed in 2003, Marian Waters sorted through boxes of photographs that her father Isaiah Rice had taken over the course of his adult life. Rice, who died in 1980, had taken hundreds of photographs of family, friends, and strangers in his Asheville, North Carolina community. While Waters always knew her »

Pearl S. Buck, It’s Not You, It’s Me

by Jolie Lewis
Pearl, I’m sorry. I’m not feeling it anymore. I tried. For years, I tried. You know I did. I served on the board of your Birthplace in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. I read the biographies. I wrote grants and hired volunteers and emailed leaders across the state and researched themed tours for your museum. I »

Semantic Relations

by Adrian Blevins
Though naturally I love them they are a monstrosity, acute and unruly,already pig-headed on the way from the airport to come and infect me with what kind of mayonnaise is better than Hellmann’s and which of usgot the new bike versus who crashed the old and who’s drinking too much versus who ought to get »

The Art of the Saltville Centennial Cookbook

by Ronni Lundy, Amy C. Evans
Saltville lies in two counties—Smyth and Washington—in southwest Virginia about thirty minutes east, then north, of Abingdon. The fossil record and artifacts found in the region, now displayed in the Museum of the Middle Appalachians, indicate that Saltville was a prehistoric salt lick attracting large mammals (like the wooly mammoth skeleton in the museum’s center) »
Photo Essay

There’s More of It, But I’m Still Hungry

by Courtney Balestier, Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and I are both daughters of West Virginia, young Appalachians who want to fight for our home but who also struggle to find our paths back to it. I have not lived in West Virginia for almost fourteen years; Elaine, the more peripatetic of us, now does, but when we began this »
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