NWSA Journal

NWSA Journal 11.3, Fall 1999

Special Issue: Appalachia and the South: Place, Gender, Pedagogy Guest Editor: Patricia D. Beaver



    Smith, Barbara E.
  • "Beyond the Mountains": The Paradox of Women's Place in Appalachian History
    Subject Headings:
    • Women -- Appalachian Region -- Historiography.
      Despite the flourishing of southern women's history during the past two decades, the history of women in Appalachia has only begun to be written. Those who make the attempt must come to terms with implicitly gendered constructions of Appalachia and narratives of regional history that feature men as the determinant actors. Utilizing oral history and family legend, the article argues that women's history in Appalachia, particularly the history of working-class women, requires an approach that looks beyond orthodox sources of data and fields of action to locate women's history-making and the contestations of gender. The resulting feminist historiography challenges conventional conceptions of the region, its history, and who has created both.
    Watkins, Charles Alan.
  • Weaving Day at Penland: A Photographic Analysis
    Subject Headings:
    • Penland School of Handicrafts, Penland, N.C.
    • Weaving -- North Carolina -- Penland.
    • Weavers -- North Carolina -- Penland.
      This article considers the photographic images of Appalachian women who were part of the Crafts Revival movement of the 1920s and 1930s in Appalachia. It challenges the popular images created to promote the crafts revival, while proposing contemporary understandings and economic motives which informed women's participation in weaving.
    Fosl, Catherine.
  • "There Was No Middle Ground": Anne Braden And The Southern Social Justice Movement
    Subject Headings:
    • Braden, Anne, 1924-
    • Women civil rights workers -- Southern States -- Biography.
    • Women social reformers -- Southern States -- Biography.
      Anne McCarty Braden is a southern white anti-racist activist who made a dramatic break with segregationist culture in the years just after World War II and committed her life to the cause of racial and social justice. Braden found her life's work and meaning through the racial justice movement in the South, and the longevity of her activism has made her into a sort of "conscience" for the white South, a reminder that whites bear an equal stake in opposing racism. This article is essentially biographical, framing her (1) political transformation;(2) early activism; (3) Kentucky sedition case and (4) overall contributions to racial change in the post-World War II South, in terms of race, gender, class, and place. A theme of the essay is Braden's broad-based vision of social change, which has provided important points of connection with most of the great social upheavals of this century, even though her own work has centered primarily on civil rights campaigns in the former plantation South. She has lived her life as a feminist and has brought a highly gendered presence to all of her organizing, raising questions of women's rights in every movement of which she has been a part and urging inclusiveness within the women's movement. Her commitment to trade unionism and economic justice also has led her to build alliances between southern civil rights crusades and union drives and economic reform projects in the Appalachian South.
    Keller, Frances Richardson, 1917-
  • An Educational Controversy: Anna Julia Cooper's Vision of Resolution
    Subject Headings:
    • Cooper, Anna J. (Anna Julia), 1858-1964.
    • Afro-American women educators -- Biography.
    • Afro-Americans -- Education (Higher)
      Out of deep educational disagreements that tore black communities asunder in the nineteenth century, an African American woman offered solutions. Anna Julia Cooper pioneered one of the most significant innovations ever introduced in any society. She envisioned and brought into being a system we know as community college. She championed and modeled the idea that higher education is a lifelong experience, that it can be available for everyone, and that everyone can work as she or he learns. Distressed by the "old, subjective, stagnant, indolent and wretched life" of far too many women, Anna Cooper demonstrated that women, as well as men, can escape ignorance and poverty. In her community she discovered, built, and nurtured a working-adult college; she believed that students need no longer feel thwarted in their life possibilities, that they could learn as they worked. As Booker Washington spoke for industrial education, W.E.B. Du Bois for elite opportunity, and Charles Chesnutt for the vote to achieve both, Anna Cooper offered higher education, vocational education, and lifelong education--and women's inclusion in them all--as the road to equal opportunity.
    Barney, Sandra.
  • Maternalism and the Promotion of Scientific Medicine During the Industrial Transformation of Appalachia, 1880-1930
    Subject Headings:
    • Women social reformers -- Appalachian Region.
    • Medical care -- Appalachian Region -- History.
    • Women's health services -- Appalachian Region -- History.
      During the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries rural Appalachian life was fundamentally challenged by the intrusion of industrial capitalism. While historians have illustrated the complexities of these developments in the areas of labor and economic history, little has been done to document the importance of gender in the reconstruction of Appalachian customs and traditions. By focusing on the role of women volunteers and settlement workers in the promotion of scientific medicine, this article argues for a recognition of women as active agents who labored to impart the expectations and presumptions of an increasingly professionalized and bureaucratized medical system to rural people. Driven by maternalist concerns and professional and class ambitions, women activists were key players in encouraging rural Appalachian residents to redefine their fundamental understandings of health and of their relationship to their healers.
    Judson, Sarah Mercer.
  • Civil Rights and Civic Health: African American Women's Public Health Work in Early Twentieth Century Atlanta
    Subject Headings:
    • Afro-American women social reformers -- Georgia -- Atlanta.
    • Tuberculosis -- Georgia -- Atlanta -- Prevention.
    • Public health -- Georgia -- Atlanta -- History.
      In this article I explore how African American women asserted their political power in early twentieth-century Atlanta by investigating their participation and leadership in Atlanta's anti-tuberculosis movement. Despite the reigning political system and culture of white supremacy, African American women created a sphere in which they could claim political power both as leaders of their community and as mediators between the white power structure and the black community.
    Fine, Elizabeth C. (Elizabeth Calvert)
  • "Lazy Jack": Coding and Contextualizing Resistance in Appalachian Women's Narratives
    Subject Headings:
    • Jack tales -- Kentucky -- Rockcastle County -- History and criticism.
    • Carter-Sexton, Beverly, 1953- -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Cannibalism -- Mythology.
      The female characters in most American Jack tales portray ancillary roles and seldom display strong character or initiative. But Appalachian storyteller Beverly Carter-Sexton develops strong women characters in all of her Jack tales. In "Lazy Jack," a remarkable tale involving cannibalism and self-cannibalism, she uses coding and contextualizing techniques to challenge traditional gender and economic relationships that she has observed in her native Rockcastle County, Kentucky. This paper 1) examines the dominant motifs and related versions of this tale to appreciate the changes Carter-Sexton has brought to her telling; 2) analyzes the implicit coding strategies of appropriation, juxtaposition, and incompetence used by Carter-Sexton to subvert male dominance, and links her coding strategies to those used by other female storytellers in her family; and 3) explores the metanarrative and metaperformative techniques she uses to recontextualize the tale.
    Conway, Cecelia.
  • Slashing the Homemade Quilt in Denise Giardina's Storming Heaven
    Subject Headings:
    • Giardina, Denise, 1951- Storming heaven.
    • Coal mines and mining -- West Virginia -- History -- 20th century -- Fiction.
    • Coal miners -- Labor unions -- West Virginia -- History -- Fiction.
      In contemporary Southern literature, many women authors have developed a theme of cooperation and mutual aid. Denise Giardina depicts cooperative mountain communities, empowered by the land, that are devastated by the competitive and colonizing forces of the outsider mine owners in Storming Heaven. The intensity of the destruction expands with the awareness that the novel is based upon the actual history of Matewan and the 1920 labor strike; the struggle for justice is not imaginary but real. Giardina dramatizes four points of view, including gender differences: a mountain fellow who grows up with the old ways; a younger man born on the eve of industrialization; a modern mountain woman whose family lives in both worlds; and an Italian immigrant woman relocated in the coal camp. Their threatened lives are symbolized by tattered folklife motifs: a regendered midwife, a blasted stargazer, an exiled banjo songster, a slashed quilt, and a skewered butterfly. Nonetheless, the characters find strategies of resistance and continue to create cooperative social systems.
    Brooks, Shannon.
  • Coming Home: Finding My Appalachian Mothers Through Emma Bell Miles
    Subject Headings:
    • Miles, Emma Bell, 1879-1919 -- Criticism and interpretation.
    • Brooks, Shannon.
    • Women -- Appalachian Region.
      Growing up in a culture that frequently denigrates the very women that it relies upon, I had a difficult time finding models for womanhood among the women of my Appalachia. Most of the women around me appeared to exert little power or command much respect outside their families, let alone within them. Driven by a desire to break the cycle of dropping out, marrying, bearing children, and settling into manufacturing work, I abandoned the Appalachian women of my past in search of a future with the new womanhood I saw in the academy. However, I soon found that I needed to be a great deal like the women I had left behind in the rural manufacturing communities in order to create an identity for myself in the outside world. Through the discovery of the writings of one of Appalachia's earliest feminists, Emma Bell Miles, I found the value of the culture I had left behind, as well as my own ability to create space for myself within that culture on my own terms.

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