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Back Talk from Appalachia

Confronting Stereotypes

edited by Dwight B. Billings, Gurney Norman, and Katherine Ledford

Appalachia has long been stereotyped as a region of feuds, moonshine stills, mine wars, environmental destruction, joblessness, and hopelessness. Robert Schenkkan's 1992 Pulitzer-Prize winning play The Kentucky Cycle once again adopted these stereotypes, recasting the American myth as a story of repeated failure and poverty--the failure of the American spirit and the poverty of the American soul. Dismayed by national critics' lack of attention to the negative depictions of mountain people in the play, a group of Appalachian scholars rallied against the stereotypical representations of the region's people. In Back Talk from Appalachia, these writers talk back to the American mainstream, confronting head-on those who view their home region one-dimensionally. The essays, written by historians, literary scholars, sociologists, creative writers, and activists, provide a variety of responses. Some examine the sources of Appalachian mythology in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature. Others reveal personal experiences and examples of grassroots activism that confound and contradict accepted images of ""hillbillies."" The volume ends with a series of critiques aimed directly at The Kentucky Cycle and similar contemporary works that highlight the sociological, political, and cultural assumptions about Appalachia fueling today's false stereotypes.

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Back to Bizkaia

A Basque-American Memoir

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Back to Nature

The Green and the Real in the Late Renaissance

By Robert N. Watson

Selected by Choice magazine as an Outstanding Academic Title

Sweeping across scholarly disciplines, Back to Nature shows that, from the moment of their conception, modern ecological and epistemological anxieties were conjoined twins. Urbanization, capitalism, Protestantism, colonialism, revived Skepticism, empirical science, and optical technologies conspired to alienate people from both the earth and reality itself in the seventeenth century. Literary and visual arts explored the resulting cultural wounds, expressing the pain and proposing some ingenious cures. The stakes, Robert N. Watson demonstrates, were huge.

Shakespeare's comedies, Marvell's pastoral lyrics, Traherne's visionary Centuries, and Dutch painting all illuminate a fierce submerged debate about what love of nature has to do with perception of reality.

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Back to School

Jewish Day School in the Lives of Adult Jews

Alex Pomson & Randal F. Schnoor With a Foreword by Jack Wertheimer

A groundbreaking study on the impact of Jewish day schools in the lives of parents and children.

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Back to the Future

Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change

Josh Freed

The Golden Age of nuclear energy in the United States has passed, and the accidents, if not disasters, at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima have damaged nuclear power's rise in some parts of the world. And yet today, as Third Way's Josh Freed illuminates in the latest Brookings Essay, a flood of young engineers are exploring safer and cleaner nuclear energy technologies as the best option for powering the world and addressing the looming threat of climate change. Yet as Freed demonstrates, advanced nuclear energy is too big, complex, and expensive to take off without significant political backing and changes in how the government supports innovation. If the U.S. doesn't invest in advanced nuclear, he argues, it's inevitable that another country will lead the way in this game-changing field.

THE BROOKINGS ESSAY: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author. Available in ebook only.

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Back to the Land

The Enduring Dream of Self-Sufficiency in Modern America

Dona Brown

For many, “going back to the land” brings to mind the 1960s and 1970s—hippie communes and the Summer of Love, The Whole Earth Catalog and Mother Earth News. More recently, the movement has reemerged in a new enthusiasm for locally produced food and more sustainable energy paths. But these latest back-to-the-landers are part of a much larger story. Americans have been dreaming of returning to the land ever since they started to leave it. In Back to the Land, Dona Brown explores the history of this recurring impulse.

            Back-to-the-landers have often been viewed as nostalgic escapists or romantic nature-lovers. But their own words reveal a more complex story. In such projects as Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman Farms, Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Broadacre City,” and Helen and Scott Nearing’s quest for “the good life,” Brown finds that the return to the farm has meant less a going-backwards than a going-forwards, a way to meet the challenges of the modern era. Progressive reformers pushed for homesteading to help impoverished workers get out of unhealthy urban slums. Depression-era back-to-the-landers, wary of the centralizing power of the New Deal, embraced a new “third way” politics of decentralism and regionalism. Later still, the movement merged with environmentalism. To understand Americans’ response to these back-to-the-land ideas, Brown turns to the fan letters of ordinary readers—retired teachers and overworked clerks, recent immigrants and single women. In seeking their rural roots, Brown argues, Americans have striven above all for the independence and self-sufficiency they associate with the agrarian ideal.

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Back to the Rough Ground

Practical Judgment and the Lure of Technique

Joseph Dunne

Back to the Rough Ground is a philosophical investigation of practical knowledge, with major import for professional practice and the ethical life in modern society. Its purpose is to clarify the kind of knowledge that informs good practice in a range of disciplines such as education, psychotherapy, medicine, management, and law. Through reflection on key modern thinkers who have revived cardinal insights of Aristotle, and a sustained engagement with the Philosopher himself, it presents a radical challenge to the scientistic assumptions that have dominated how these professional domains have been conceived, practiced, and institutionalized.

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Back Yonder

An Ozark Chronicle

Originally released in 1932, Wayman Hogue’s Back Yonder is a rare and entertaining memoir of life in rural Arkansas during the decades following the Civil War. Using family legends, personal memories, and events from Arkansas history, Hogue, like his contemporary Laura Ingalls Wilder, creatively weaves a narrative of a family making its way in rugged, impoverished, and sometimes violent places.

From one-room schoolhouses to moonshiners, the details in Hogue’s story capture the essence of a particular time and place, even as the characters reflect a universal quality that endears them to the modern reader. This reissue of Back Yonder, the first in the Chronicles of the Ozarks series, features an introduction by historian Brooks Blevins that explores the life of Charles Wayman Hogue, analyzes the people and events that inspired the book, and places the volume in the context of America’s discovery of the Ozarks in the years between the World Wars.

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The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States

An Economic and Sociological Study in the Dynamics of Migration

John Lindberg

The Background of Swedish Emigration to the United States was first published in 1930. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.The author, for three years a fellow of the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial, examines the movement that, about the middle of the nineteenth century, swept over Sweden like an epidemic and carried away a large portion of her youth to America. Some of the more important chapters discuss the character of group emigration, the pattern of mass emigration, the background of agricultural emigration, the selection of emigrants, the industrial emigration, the professional emigration, the return of the emigrants, and the cessation of emigration.

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Backgrounds of English Literature, 1700-1760

Cecil Moore

The five studies collected in this volume have the common purpose of establishing a background for an understanding of eighteenth-century English literature. Some of the most popular ideas and ideals of the period are traced to their sources in contemporary philosophy, science, politics, and religion. All of the studies relate in some way to what the seventeenth century called the climate of opinion. They confirm the observation of Shelley that all writers are subjected to “a common influence which arises out of an infinite combination of circumstances belonging to the time in which they live.” All the studies belong to that older style of literary investigation to which scholarship owes its name and to which every student interested in basic ideas and the origins of concepts will sooner or later wish to turn. The first two studies, “Shaftesbury and the Ethical Poets” and “The Return to Nature in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century,” throw as much light on the Romantic poetry of the nineteenth century as they do on the poetry of the eighteenth. The nature worship that one thinks of as peculiarly Wordsworthian is shown to lie at the heart of deism, the rationalistic philosophy of a century earlier. In “Whig Panegyric Verse,” the ideals of the Whig party, as expressed by poets of the time, are examined in relation to Shaftesbury’s moral philosophy. In “John Dunton: Pietist and Impostor,” the morbid gloom familiar in the “graveyard poets” is seen to reflect a widespread popular taste. That the melancholia of the period was so common as to be considered a national characteristic appears from “The English Malady,” which is largely concerned with the medical literature of the time.

Backgrounds of English Literature, 1700-1760 was first published in 1953. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

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