Most Americans know Appalachia through stereotyped images: moonshine and handicrafts, poverty and illiteracy, rugged terrain and isolated mountaineers. Historian David Hsiung maintains that in order to understand the origins of such stereotypes, we must look critically at their underlying concepts, especially those of isolation and community. According to Hsiung's interpretation, two worlds coexisted in the Tennessee mountains: some people made connections with the rest of country and others lived in relative isolation. When this latter group came to be characterized by their neighbors as backward, growing perceptions of difference within the mountain region eventually found their way into fiction and popular images of Appalachia for well over a century. By demonstrating that these perceptions of difference first emerged from within Appalachia itself, Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains alters the commonly held views of this region and its people during the antebellum period. This provocative work will stimulate future studies of early Appalachia and serve as a model for the analysis of regional cultures.
Publisher: The University Press of Kentucky