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Appalachian Literature and Culture Study Guide

by: Adra Anderson

Appalachian Literature and Culture Study Guide ENG 444

Marketplace > University of Tennessee - Knoxville > English > ENG 444 > Appalachian Literature and Culture Study Guide
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About this Document

These notes cover material for the Midterm exam
Appalachian Literature and Culture
Dr. Hardwig
Study Guide
localcolor, appalachian, Murfree, InsiderOutside, PoliticsofThey
50 ?




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This 11 page Study Guide was uploaded by Adra Anderson on Saturday October 15, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to ENG 444 at University of Tennessee - Knoxville taught by Dr. Hardwig in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Appalachian Literature and Culture in English at University of Tennessee - Knoxville.


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Date Created: 10/15/16
Appalachian Literature and Culture Exams are made up of… 60% Quotes (choose 6/8)- quotes taken from readings and handouts (know the text, author, and significance) 40% Identifications (4/6)- terms, issues, and definitions 3 things you can do to prepare for exams: 1) Keep up with the reading schedule 2) Take notes of major themes, lists, definitions 3) Pay attention to class discussion and which passages get discussed Good things to include or think about when creating micro-essay: 1) How do the formal elements lead to an interpretation? 2) Politics of representation- what the artist has chosen to show us and how the artist has chosen to show this 3) What details help support your analysis  Analysis of “The Home Funeral. Leatherwood, 1990” from Appalachian Portraits (1993): -The artist uses a wooden pillar as a focal point and divider; making the people in the image look crowded and trapped in while also separate -Many children in the image, a potential mother, and the casket all in the same image hints at the concept of life and death and the stages of life passage of time, circle of life, the struggle of life in rural Appalachia -Mother looks tired and sad; little girl also looking at the camera and separated from her mother by a wall looks just like her mother as a child circle of life, what the little girl’s future is -Many children= big family living in poverty, tight family bonds  Politics of representation- stakes, biases, rationale, goals, assumptions  Problem of representation- involved in representing the “other” to a larger audience; can cause stereotyping, biases, misrepresentation, etc.  Insider/outsider dynamics  “The Kiss 1986” by Shelby Lee Adams -Photograph perpetuates the idea of incest with image of two mentally handicapped bother and sister kissing each other  “Houses and Graveyard, Rowlesburg, West Virginia” (July 1935, printed later) by Walker Evans -Poem that looks strongly at insider/outsider position, politics of representation, exploitation and documentation, and stereotype vs. reality/art -The photo this poem is about emphasizes poverty with the shack homes - Basically says that the photo dehumanizes the people who are buried in the graveyard in the picture because they are just random headstones to the viewer but to her, they are lost loved ones outsider/insider  “Country Wisdoms” -Poem discusses things people say- localisms -Ways of making sense of the world -Localisms highly physical and active; large reliance on nature and the natural world (weather mostly); things that are out of your control -Somewhat dark sayings about destruction, death but there is also an air of perseverance - “They say these things” separated by itself; repeated in different ways multiple different times (then they say, they tell) sets the reader apart from the speaker, “they” not “we”; insider/outsider feeling, like the narrator doesn’t really believe these proverbs -Who are they? Probably the older generations (references her mother as one of the members of “they”) -Seasons, graveyards, mention of mothertime passes, progression  “Cleaning the Well” by Robert Chappell -2 competing/different registers: plain, everyday world vs. something else, a world beyond -2 experiences: the boy’s vs. the speaker’s as an adult -When the boy goes down into the well, he originally thinks he is going to find a treasure trove but what does he find? A dead cat, monopoly money (fake money), a bad hat, and trash a demonstration of a child’s imagination and expectations for the world vs. the real world/the adult world where nothing is as shiny as you thought it would be -“Jonah, Joseph, and Lazarus” Jonah swallowed by a whale, joseph was thrown into a pit by his brothers and sold into slavery, and Lazarus rose from the dead  “The Brier Losing Touch with His Traditions” by Jim Wayne Miller -Brier: ethnic slur towards Appalachian people who moved to mid-western factory towns to get factory jobs when towns lost jobs in Appalachia -Idea of authenticity authentic symbol of Appalachian people -Appalachia symbol of the past -People want people from Appalachia to look “authentic,” like a hillbilly, like the image they have in their mind that image sells, even if it has to be faked. It’s what people want  “Sop Doll” audio story by Ray Hicks (1922-2003) -About Jack who tries to get a job in a water mill and finds out about a coven of witches  “Dancing Outlaw” I and II, the movie -Presents a three way relationship between the audience/reader, Appalachian people/characters, and the author/writer -Main character seems naive and like his is the butt of the joke for all the other characters, as well as the audience/viewer the director also seems to be in on it with the audience; tries to make it as ridiculous as possible -Highly over the top -Significant inclusion of the story of his father and as he goes down to his father’s grave weird out of place banjo music in the background kind of undermines the weight of the situation -Why did this documentary go viral and get famous? The complexity of Jesco and Jesco became a symbol of the region for outsiders who didn’t know much about Appalachia The 1880s: important time period in Appalachian Literature  Local Color also known as Regional Realism (1880s-1900s): Important in Murfree’s writing- type of writing in which… -Settings that are unique to the region (often rural or isolated areas) -Representative characters (often stereotypes) -Use of dialect/vernacular and use of unique sayings of the region -Focus on local customs, styles, attributes, etc. -Verisimilitude: the appearance of actuality; depictions of the real… feels like even though it is fiction, it seems like it could actually happen in real life -Literary tourism -Mary Murfree falls into this use of authorship; so does Mark Twain, Faulkner, Edward Abbey, Kate Chopin, J.F. Cooper, -This time period (1880s-1900s) obviously focused on places that were considered different, unique, and out-of-the-way -Occurred during the Civil War time period demonstrates ideals of reunification and anxiety in relation to that (a nation divided/national difference), an idyllic past, efforts in demystifying/justifying the status quo of the northern supremacy, effort to escape from northern life for the reader which was currently being subject to industrialization and urbanization, immigration anxiety -local color and regional realism mean the same thing but calling it local color is a little more derogatory and said in a looked down on kind of way  Mary Murfree, author of “The Star in the Valley”, “The ‘Harnt’ That Walks Chilhowee” and “A-Playin’ of Old Sledge at the Settlemint” -She was from Murfreesboro, Tennessee in fact, the town was named after her family -She was from the mountain region but studied in an all French speaking school in the north so she was both an insider in the sense that she grew up near the Appalachian region and an outsider to the Appalachian life because she was educated, famous, and well-off -She spent a great deal of time at tourist lodges for the wealthy and upper class in Appalachia, the ‘Beersheba Springs’ in particular this lodges were very beautiful and she got a lot of her knowledge concerning the Appalachian region while staying in these lodges -She wrote under a false name for a long time because she didn’t want to be judged as a woman or disgrace her family name but then she and her writings became very, very famous and she finally claimed her writing her readers thought she wrote very masculinly and was from Appalachia In her stories… -Narrator seems to act as a sort of translator for the reader because there almost seems to be a language barrier with the character -Narrator provides rich emotions -Narrator- educated, lofty speech and then characters- regional dialect presents a feeling of divide -Frontier vs. Sinful  Sinful- sloth, the lazy mountaineer -Frame narrative: a story within a story; the dialect within the story tells a story  This is common in local color/regional realism -Stereotypes that end up in her stories (all three of them):  Sinful/lazy  Simple-minded  Correctness to nature (especially seen in the female characters)- people so close and in-tune with nature that they more or less become apart of nature  Superstition- ghosts, signs of death from ghosts and animals, forks in the road, asking nature for the future predictions  Drunkenness  All Appalachian characters are blue collar works  Living off the land, farming, raising animals, weaving, gathering herbs, making their own alcohol, drinking from the creek and washing clothes in the creek  Family feuds, duals between families vindictive  Family/domestic violence  Hospitality/common customs-polite, static  Sense of Appalachian justice- burning down houses, being shot in the street, going to shoot the Peels for their treachery -Is Murfree trying to be exploitative or capture our attention in incorporating all these stereotypes? -Seems to be a lesson of justice and morality in each story Murfree makes the point that justice and morality are not culturally specific; justice and morality comes out of the Appalachian community, maybe more so than in urban communities  River Earth by James Still -Mining is ended/Brack is unemployed -Cycle- back where they were having very little -Land gives and the land takes away -Walking John Gray story (wandering) associated with the narrator with the positive idea of leaving ones roots/ freedom and autonomy -Mining v. farming:  Mining: industrial, commercial community, dirty, groans  Farming: agrarian, family community -Environmental issues: no fish in stream in mine town, Jolly allows spawning, timber worn down to nubs, no turkeys, birds or ginseng  River of Earth (1940) + Grapes of Wrath (1941): why is River of Earth less well known and credible? -Both depression eras -Both by Viking press with reputation  Ted Olson: -R of E is marginalized in App. Studies -Not compared to Steinbeck  Douglas R. Powell: -National epics are about the inevitability of displacement and nomadism -R of E. in an unsentimental dramatization of the possibilities of a place  Child of God by Cormac McCarthy -McCarthy moved to Knoxville, Tennessee from Providence, Rhode Island when he was a boy -Grew up catholic and went to Catholic High School in the 1940s -Attended UT from 1951-52 and then again 1957-59 but never actually graduated. He was a liberal arts major -His first stories were published in our literary magazine The Phoenix -Child of God takes place in Sevierville on Frog Mountain -You initially have sympathy for Lester Ballard: father’s death, being evicted from his home, living in an old run down hut  Interludes (1 person) v. 3 person omnisent: -Childhood tragedies: why does Lester do the things he does? -Humanizing by giving sad details of his life v. dehumanizing by saying towns people call him an animal and crazy -Community separation from the community, they are afraid of him; isolation both internal and external -Stories as reflection on the past (ex. When he got hit with an axe, the tale about it says that he could never quite hold his head right after that, like it’s in the past) -Lack of help or sympathy for Lester -Exploitation?  Normalizing violence and depravity -Description of child who kills the robin calling him it? What?  Child?  Child. (Trying to talk himself into agreeing that the deformed baby is an actual human child, dehumanizing it and then trying to convince himself it is a human)  Times that the title was mentioned: -First time is on page 4 and it says that you are a child of god -Says that Lester is a child of God “much like yourself perhaps” Lester is a sinner and a human just like you and me; you are a sinner too, therefore you are connected to Lester in some way -Lester is a dark part of humanity - Page 65- Lester stops being a person and becomes the man with the bears to the young girl who finds Lester creepy and staring at her  Andrew Bartlett said… -Voyeuristic: we watch the narrator watch Lester; the narrator constantly watches Ballard watching another body oblivious to being watched (pg. 103 and 118)  Almost feels like spying like we are witnessing something we shouldn’t be seeing; hidden, taboos  Calls Ballard a bunch of things besides human: primal/animalistic/ignoble savage; even his prison cell is called a cage, not a cell child of God, much like yourself o Meaning, we all have deep, dark, animal-like impulses, but we choose to not act on them and Ballard does act on them. But because we have them, we are no better than Ballard.  The book says that “It cannot swim but you cannot drown it” we cannot drown or snuff out our evil impulses that are in all of us o Ballard cannot drown because he is sustained by “people like you” who want wrong blood in their history and will have it society wants this legacy; we may not follow or condone evil actions but stories of evil fascinate us and we love to tell these stories, stories of violence, taboos, murder, etc.  Also makes us feel better about ourselves for having bad people like Ballard- “Yeah I lied about my taxes but have you heard of that necrophilia murderer Lester Ballard?”  Also when we kill or lock up these evil people, we feel better about ourselves like we are good and in control and vigilantes and just  When Lester is in control of the dead bodies in the cave, they are described as resting like “saints” and when the police (society) gets control of them and they are pulled up out of the cave, they are called “hams” society, itself, is tainted and dehumanizing -The Oblivious (folk logic): one does not see what is there, ex. The people Ballard preys upon remain relatively oblivious to him. -The blind (blindness of darkness): we cannot see because it is too dark -Archeological mode: like voyeuristic, but with clinical neutrality like looking at the remains of a dead culture; detached description of a vanishing, wasting human culture (pg. 38-39 and 127-128)  Almost biblical in a sense but without a message  Is McCarthy’s use of violence and inclusion of taboos artistically defensible in his writing? -Yes—he is showing the readers the harsh reality of the world and confronts the reader with things they would rather want to look away from. We want to distance ourselves from or ignore the bad in the world we live in and the evils of society that happen everyday and McCarthy’s writing makes us focus on the violence and evil in society. -We also want to ignore the underlying issues that cause evil and just focus on the evil Ballard’s mother ran away and his father killed himself and Ballard witnessed it and the crimes he committed focuses on a desire for intimacy and the only way he can be intimate with a woman is if she does not speak or reject him and she will only not speak and reject him if she is dead -Pg. 66-67: why is McCarthy focusing so much on the details of Ballard cleaning his gun so thoroughly? It is almost a sexual experience for him; similar to masturbation all the “ands”=build up; There is an erotic power associated with the gun  Selu selections by Marliou Awiakta -Pastoral: associated with farming, raising livestock, herders, close to nature or working on the land; often romanticized and idealized; typically aimed at urban audiences (an urban author writing about the virtues of rural landscapes, lifestyles, and rural people for an urban audience)  Ex. Murfree’s writings and River Earth by James Still- pastoral writings -Anti-pastoral: literal  Ex. McCarthy -Selu seems pastoral/sacred -Alternate to western stories -Stories rooted in East Tennessee -She notes the different ways there are to access the content of her stories: poetry, history, fax, Cherokee sacred stories, illustrations, personal stories (some are anti- pastoral and some are pastoral) -Notes the need to update the stories for different ages to help people understand the backbone of the stores (facts v. sacred meanings) -Tellico Dam controversy- she puts a lot of the blame on the media people are powerless against the government which is going to do what it wants to do and the media can make an impact because a small group of people cant do much but with media coverage, a lot can change -Technology: mass media v. resistance to high-tech pace/speed; she discusses insular disconnect and instant gratification that come along with out obsession with technology but she is not against technology she is okay with using technology to spread her message  Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison -Allison was the first child of a 15 year old mother, she was a bastard herself, her mother worked as a waitress and had an abusive father so the story is somewhat autobiographical but it is also a work of fiction -Concerned with avoiding “pseudo-pain” of victimization exploitative -Also concerned with avoiding “lying myths” and “easy moralities”  Ex. The myth that poverty makes people better—she says no, that’s a “lying myth” because simply poverty doesn’t make you a good person  Another lying myth: “good” vs. “bad” behavior is contingent, Glen’s violence comes from love, the American Dream is founded on upward mobility and appearances (social determination), etc.  Ex. An easy morality would be kind of like saying, “Well, these things (bad things) happen, we gotta accept them and move on, no big deal.” -Our society seems to think that on one hand, you have the “noble poor” and on the other you have “trash”  Allison thinks that both of these perceptions are harmful to the people who are actually living in poverty; poverty is not a character building thing, it is not a blessing in disguise—it is hard and it is devastating to live that way.  Basically, Allison doesn’t want us to romanticize poverty; she wants us to realize that it is a hardship.  These views of poverty are destructive and dangerous  Labeling limits people and dehumanizes them -The character of Bone is seen and established as “other” (insider but still an outsider, black sheep). There is a disconnect between her and her family:  Her physical characteristics (doesn’t look like anyone else in the family but possibly looks like her great-great granddaddy who was Cherokee and abandoned his family, but also says she looks like her dad)  She is illegitimate and doesn’t know who father is and her mother is somewhat ashamed of the fact that people know she is illegitimate and embarrassed of who the father is  Her main supporter is Granny but Granny is called “full of lies” -Bone also distances herself from the family:  She is angry, creates the fake identity of Roseanne from Atlanta (fake identity escape) -Concept of family loyalty vs. something different (disconnect) -Glen: father figure repeatedly says, “You are mine” to mom and Bone and Reese possessive, controlling  Glen is also defined by the description of his hands impersonal, possessive, physical, scary, powerful  His eyes are described are empty, dark, icy and Bone says his eyes only smile while he is sexually abusing her -Idea of patriarchal culture shows up in this story a lot -Negative labeling appears multiple times in the book:  Anney cares a lot about labels put on her and her family (selfish?)- Fighting for the birth certificate for Bone so she isn’t labeled a bastard, making Bone return the candy so she isn’t a thief, smokes her cigarettes outside because she doesn’t want to look like “trash”  Granny doesn’t care about labels at all (distance/escaping, not being defined by them)  Boatwrights are proud of their labels as tough (male behavior)  Glen’s family are rich and snotty and look down on Anney and her girls as “trash”  “Niggers” as bad people and trashy people -Moira Baker: “Illegitimacy is not a moral blight endemic to the lower class, but a conceptual tool for regulating them.”  translation titles and labels are a way that society and people regulate and trap other people -Location plays a large role in the novel: family ties (rootedness vs. desire for distance) -Violence in the novel:  Language- the way that the “n-word” and “trash” are said in a hate filled way rage  Cause of violence (in general and in Bone)- Boatwright family ways (exaggerated stories, glorified and excused violence; “that’s just the Boatwright way”), daddy Glen’s abuse (real, visceral physical, sexual, and mental abuse), poverty, humiliation, oppression, frustration with current station in life (limited by poverty)  The hooks- were thrown into the river and seen as trash (symbol for Bone), it is also dangerous and a sexual object and is connected to an idea of revenge  The violence alternates between outburst and uncontrollable violence (Bone’s rage at Shannon when she cusses her out) v. calculated violence (Bone’s thought process and choice of who she enacts violence on inside of Woolworth’s store after she breaks in) -The Hook: correlation between the hook and Bone; Bone wanting the paint to peel off just like Bone wants to break free of what oppresses her “shine”  She likes the ownership and control over the hook  When Bone masturbates with the hook, it demonstrates the inseparable nature in Bone’s life of pleasure and pain o Violent, sexual play- an attempt for the girls to gain control over the violence and sexualization in their lives even if it is just imaginative games -Raylene fits into this family differently than the other women:  She’s not married  She doesn’t have kids  Questions violence and does not excuse violence simply on the grounds that they are Boatwrights  She is content with herself  She did her own thing and escaped this life but came home with scars  She has stability (doesn’t move around all the time like her sisters, she has rented the same house for years)  She salvages trash- escape  Doesn’t fit into normative gender roles or expectations for women- she lives by herself by her own choice, wears overalls, worked at the carnival like a man, had a lesbian relationship in the past, is a good mechanic, salvages trash -Interpellation (first used by Louis Althusser):  Human subjects are constructed/reconstructed by pre-given structures/ideologies translation, we are nothing until we come into society and it makes us who we are or are supposed to be  We are hailed by ideologies that define and “concretize” us  When ideologies hail us, they affect who we are  We can resist this interpellations and refuse the categories but it is hard and never complete; we are always affected  Ideology State Apparatuses: family, media, religious organizations, capitalist society, educational systems are the ideologies that construct us  We are conformed to pre-existing structures that define who we are  In this novel, naming and identity labels constructs who the characters are; it shapes them o Examples: “nigger,” “trash,” bastard, drunks, ugly (with Shannon), Glen calling Bone mean, Cherokee (associations with strength and pride), “the noble poor” o Raylene as an alternative to the Boatwright legacy; Raylene could act as a symbol for a way to refuse interpellations -Boatwright women characteristics: sassy, strong, fierce, funny -Why would Anney leave?  needs a man, follows a man  brainwashed by Glen  protect Glen for hurting himself and the kids from being hurt by Glen o anney feels like she cant protect Bone and that Bone will be safer with the rest of the family  Guilt- runs from guilt  Birth certificate- duty as a mother is done -For Bone, Raylene is a source of stability and security -“Politics of they”- fear, stigmatization, and categories creates a sort of “us” and “them” distinction  Raylene is an alternative to the “politics of they” tries to see the world without distinction  Murder Ballads: What are they? -Ex. “Little Glass of Wine” by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, “Knoxville Girl” by Rusty York and the Kentucky Mountain Boys, “Frankie Silvers” by Clarence Ashley and Gwen Foster -Murder ballads: always tell of a murder, often true; cultural work of memorializing a murder or violent event in a community  Sometimes they serve as cautionary tales; tales of retribution and justice  Sometimes they are assertions of core values and the reestablishment of order after an event  Sometimes they are mourning of dead loved ones  Sometimes they are demonstrations of the patriarchal policy of “aberrant” womanhood; punishing women for being “bad” Midterm Exam: know the texts and the authors Handouts that could show up on the test: Appalachian murder ballads, Dorothy Allison quote, McCarthy modes Part 1 (60%) Quotes: Identify six of the eight quotes- give the work (title and author) and explain the context and demonstrate how the quote relates to one of the themes of the work (~2-4 sentence response) Part 2 (40%) IDs: explain the relevance/significance of four of the following six terms to the thematic issues of the text, which text they refer to, and the author—in other words, mention at least one of the texts with which we discussed these terms or concepts. These are short answer questions, but specificity will be rewarded (~2- 3 sentence response) Ex. Shannon Pearl Ex. 2. Noble poor vs. white trash


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