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The Tourism of Nostalgia
More than 19 million tourists flock to Amish Country each year, drawn by the opportunity to glimpse "a better time" and the quaint beauty of picturesque farmland and handcrafted quilts. What they may find, however, are elaborately themed town centers, outlet malls, or even a water park. Susan L. Trollinger explores this puzzling incongruity, showing that Amish tourism is anything but plain and simple. Selling the Amish takes readers on a virtual tour of three such tourist destinations in Ohio’s Amish Country, the world’s largest Amish settlement. Trollinger examines the visual rhetoric of these uniquely themed places—their architecture, interior decor, even their merchandise and souvenirs—and explains how these features create a setting and a story that brings tourists back year after year. This compelling story is, Trollinger argues, in part legitimized by the Amish themselves. To Americans faced with anxieties about modern life, being near the Amish way of life is comforting. The Amish seem to have escaped the rush of contemporary life, the confusion of gender relations, and the loss of ethnic heritage. While the Amish way supports the idealized experience of these tourist destinations, it also raises powerful questions. Tourists may want a life uncomplicated by technology, but would they be willing to drive around in horse-drawn buggies in order to achieve it? Trollinger's answers to important questions in her fascinating study of Amish Country tourism are sure to challenge readers’ understanding of this surprising cultural phenomenon.
Old Order Amish and Mennonite Schools
Train Up a Child explores how private schools in Old Order Amish communities reflect and perpetuate church-community values and identity. Here, Karen M. Johnson-Weiner asserts that the reinforcement of those values among children is imperative to the survival of these communities in the modern world. Surveying settlements in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York, Johnson-Weiner finds that, although Old Order communities have certain similarities in their codes of conduct, there is no standard Old Order school. She examines the choices each community makes—about pedagogy, curriculum, textbooks, even school design—to strengthen religious ideology, preserve the social and linguistic markers of Old Order identity, and protect their own community's beliefs and values from the influence of the dominant society. In the most comprehensive study of Old Order schools to date, Johnson-Weiner provides valuable insight into how variables such as community size and relationship with other Old Order groups affect the role of these schools in maintaining behavioral norms and in shaping the Old Order's response to modernity.
Impressions of the Plain Life
There are two ways to leave the Amish — one is through life and the other through death. When Saloma Miller Furlong’s father dies during her first semester at Smith College, she returns to the Amish community she had left twenty four years earlier to attend his funeral. Her journey home prompts a flood of memories. Now a mother with grown children of her own, Furlong recalls her painful childhood in a family defined by her father’s mental illness, her brother’s brutality, her mother’s frustration, and the austere traditions of the Amish — traditions Furlong struggled to accept for years before making the difficult decision to leave the community. In this personal and moving memoir, Furlong traces the genesis of her desire for freedom and education and chronicles her conflicted quest for independence. Eloquently told, Why I Left the Amish is a revealing portrait of life within — and without — this frequently misunderstood community.