Despite the homogenization of American life, areas of strong regional consciousness still persist in the United States, and there is a growing interest in regionalism among the public and among academics. In response to that interest ten folklorists here describe and interpret a variety of American regional cultures in the twentieth century. Their book is the first to deal specifically with regional culture and the first to employ the perspective of folklore in the study of regional identity and consciousness.
The authors range widely over the United States, from the Eastern Shore to the Pacific Northwest, from the Southern Mountains to the Great Plains. They look at a variety of cultural expressions and practices -- legends, anecdotes, songs, foodways, architecture, and crafts. Tying their work together is a common consideration of how regional culture shapes and is shaped by the consciousness of living in a special place. In exploring this dimension of regional culture the authors consider the influence of natural environment and historical experience on the development of regional culture, the role of ethnicity in regional consciousness, the tensions between insiders and outsiders that stem from a sense of regional identity, and the changes in culture in response to social and economic change.
With its focus on cultural manifestations and its folkloristic perspective this book provides a fresh and needed contribution to regional studies. Writ¬ten in a clear, readable style, it will appeal to general readers interested in American regions and their cultures. At the same time the research and analytical approach make it useful not only to folklorists but to cultural geographers, anthropologists, and other scholars of regional studies.
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