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Most Americans know Appalachia through stereotyped images: moonshine and handicrafts, poverty and illiteracy, rugged terrain and isolated mountaineers. Historian David Hsiung maintains that in order to understand the origins of such stereotypes, we must look critically at their underlying concepts, especially those of isolation and community.

Hsiung focuses on the mountainous area of upper East Tennessee, tracing this area's development from the first settlement in the eighteenth century to the eve of the Civil War. Through his examination, he identifies the different ways in which the region's inhabitants were connected to or separated from other peoples and places. Using an interdisciplinary framework, he analyzes geographical and sociocultural isolation from a number of perspectives, including transportation networks, changing economy, population movement, and topography.

This provocative work will stimulate future studies of early Appalachia and serve as a model for the analysis of regional cultures.

David C. Hsiung is associate professor of history at Juniata College.

"Well organized and accessible, this book would prove ideal for use in Appalachian history courses . . . while telling what happened, Hsiung explains how to do social history."—Journal of Appalachian History

"Hsiung has given us a book which focuses exclusively on the question of Appalachian difference or, as he puts it, the origins of Appalachian stereotype."—Journal of Social History

"In demolishing several stereotypes, Hsiung gets tantalizingly close to revealing the sources of regional and national identity."—Journal of American History

"The originality of this contribution in approach and methodology must certainly be acknowledged, as well as its strongly interpretive character."—The Journal of Southern History

"Offers a great deal of new information about frontier society as well as imaginative ways of using it."—Georgia Historical Quarterly

Publication Date



The University Press of Kentucky

Place of Publication

Lexington, KY






Social isolation, Appalachian stereotype, Eastern Tennessee


Appalachian Studies

Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains: Exploring the Origins of Appalachian Stereotypes
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