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Charlotte Talks: What Does It Mean To Be Appalachian?

Monday, October 22, 2018

As a response to J.D. Vance's bestselling memoir Hillbilly Elegy, authors Meredith McCarroll and Anthony Harkins wrote Appalachian Reckoning to provide another point of view on Appalachia. They join us to talk about what they see as misconceptions about the region and its people.

Listen to part one of this show: 'Hillbilly Elegy' Author J.D. Vance On His Upbringing And The American Dream

What does it mean to be Appalachian? Hillbilly Elegy told the story of one family, but for the rest of the country, the book seemed to simply and symbolize an entire region and culture. The editors of the forthcoming book Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy argue that the 'hillbilly culture' Vance depicts is actually much more diverse, complex and nuanced.

They say the book and the popular media generally oversimplify the problems and the people that make up the Appalachian region and that the region contains many stories that deserve to be told. They are out to tell some of those stories in their new book, due out next year. Guest host Dr. Michael Bitzer talks with them about why Hillbilly Elegy struck a nerve and we get a different perspective on Appalachia.


Anthony Harkins, Co-Editor, Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy. Professor of History at Western Kentucky University. He is also the author of Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon.

Meredith McCarroll, Co-Editor, Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy. Director of writing and rhetoric at Bowdoin College. She is also the author of Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film.

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Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.