Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hillbilly authentication: Investigating authentic regional identity in postmodern Appalachian culture
by Roberts, Mark Allen, Ph.D., Union Institute and University, 2007, 315; 3281256
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines the cultural authenticity of the hillbilly stereotype in three specific ways: (1) by analyzing the role the stereotype plays during personalized, regional identity formation, (2) by charting the evolution of the ideal of authenticity from its Romantic formulations to its Postmodern incarnations, and (3) by creating fictional stories that represent one Appalachian family's struggle to achieve an authentic sense of being and experience in a tourist-oriented environment.

The study concludes that the process of Appalachian identity formation in the postmodern age is a dialectical exchange between the authentic self and inauthentic place. I argue that many Appalachians indulge in regional stereotypes and tourist sites with a genuine desire to reconnect with their regional past. I suggest that regional tourism repackages the hillbilly icon as a positive consumable relic, and thus tourists often leave these places with a redeemed and more positive notion of the hillbilly image. To advance the argument. I test the cultural authenticity of the hillbilly stereotype and examine the scholarly literature focused on the social constructionist notions of authenticity and its relationship to building cultural identity.

In addition to scholarly investigations, I present a series of four interlinked short stories that creatively illustrate the struggle of regional characters as they strive to achieve a sense of authentic cultural identity in the midst of a thoroughly simulated and tourist-oriented place. My stories, then, examine and critique the ways in which Appalachians (my "group") deal with identity construction in a postmodern world.

Keywords. Hillbilly Stereotype; Cultural Authenticity; Regional Identity Construction; Postmodern Self; Appalachian Identity; Self and Place.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Searl, Stanford J., Jr.
School: Union Institute and University
School Location: United States -- Ohio
Source: DAI-A 68/09, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: American studies, Geography
Keywords: Appalachian, Authentication, Culture, Hillbilly, Postmodern, Regional identity, Stereotype
Publication Number: 3281256
ISBN: 978-0-549-23668-9
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