“An American Vein succeeds where many southern scholarly studies fail, by considering the work of (Lee) Smith, (Fred) Chappell, and a host of other writers, living and dead, as embodiments of the mountain cultures that produced them.... The book's content is highly varied, rich, and sturdy.”
The Sewanee Review
“It‘s not often that a collection of literary criticism this solid, comprehensive, and comprehensible appears.”
Journal of Appalachian Studies
“From Cratis Williams’ classic study The Southern Mountaineer in Fact and Fiction to contemporary scholarship on ecocriticism, this impressive collection of essays provides an important, though too long neglected, part of American literary history. This book effectively gives Appalachian literature the serious attention it deserves.”
Sandra L. Ballard, editor of Appalachian Journal and Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia
“The overall thrust of the anthology is to present Appalachian literature afresh, and to point out its centrality to American literature as a whole while establishing it as a legitimate regional literature. The editors acknowledge that no single work can accomplish all this, but An American Vein is a strong beginning and an excellent introduction to an underappreciated vein of literature.”
Rocky Mountain Review
The blossoming of Appalachian studies began some thirty years ago. Thousands of young people from the hills have since been made aware of their region’s rich literary tradition through high school and college courses. An entire generation has discovered that their own landscapes, families, and communities had been truthfully portrayed by writers whose background was similar to their own.
An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature is an anthology of literary criticism of Appalachian novelists, poets, and playwrights. The book reprises critical writing of influential authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Cratis Williams, and Jim Wayne Miller. It introduces new writing by Rodger Cunningham, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and others.
Many writers from the mountains have found success and acclaim outside the region, but the region itself as a thriving center of literary creativity has not been widely appreciated. The editors of An American Vein have remedied this, producing the first general collection of Appalachian literary criticism. This book is a resource for those who teach and read Appalachian literature. What’s more, it holds the promise of introducing new readers, nationally and internationally, to Appalachian literature and its relevance to our times.
Danny L. Miller is the chair of the Department of Literature and Language at Northern Kentucky University. He is the author of Wingless Flights: Appalachian Women in Fiction. More info →
Sharon Hatfield is an award-winning journalist and nonfiction writer. Her interest in Appalachian letters and history led to her writing Never Seen the Moon: The Trials of Edith Maxwell and coediting An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her husband. More info →
Gurney Norman is a novelist and short story writer whose works include Kinfolks: The Wilgus Stories and Divine Right’s Trip. He is the director of the creative writing program at the University of Kentucky and coeditor of Back Talk from Appalachia: Confronting Stereotypes. More info →
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Loving Mountains, Loving Men is the first book-length treatment of a topic rarely discussed or examined: gay life in Appalachia. Appalachians are known for their love of place, yet many gays and lesbians from the mountains flee to urban areas. Jeff Mann tells the story of one who left and then returned, who insists on claiming and celebrating both regional and erotic identities.
Women’s studies unites with Appalachian studies in Beyond Hill and Hollow, the first book to focus exclusively on studies of Appalachia’s women. Featuring the work of historians, linguists, sociologists, performance artists, literary critics, theater scholars, and others, the collection portrays the diverse cultures of Appalachian women.
Contemporaries were shocked when author Mary Noailles Murfree revealed she was a woman, but modern readers may be more surprised by her cogent discussion of community responses to unwanted development. Effie Waller Smith, an African American woman writing of her love for the Appalachian mountains, wove discussions of women's rights, racial tension, and cultural difference into her Appalachian poetry.
Negotiating a Perilous Empowerment blends literacy studies with literary criticism to analyze the central female characters in the works of Harriette Simpson Arnow, Linda Scott DeRosier, Denise Giardina, and Lee Smith.