From Yankee Doodle to “Devil Anse”
Literary, Graphic, and Ideological Progenitors, 1700–1899
This chapter traces the literary antecedents of the hillbilly representation in America that grew out of the separate but overlapping “image streams” of the New England rustic yokel “Brother Jonathan”, the poor white of the Southern backcountry, and the mythic frontiersman of Appalachia and Arkansas. It examines the cultural construction of the Southern mountain folk from William Byrd's Secret History of the Dividing Line to the song-story “the Arkansas Traveller” to the turn-of-the-century “local colorists”. Although some authors and social commentators used the conception of the mythic mountaineer to denigrate, and others to celebrate the folkways and primitive conditions of the hill people, in all cases this idea ignored the reality of late 19th-century economic and social upheaval in the region, and instead defined the hill folk as a people caught forever in an unceasing past.
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