Book ID: CBB366779621

Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes (2018)


Slavishak, Edward (Author)

Johns Hopkins University Press

Publication Date: 2018
Physical Details: 232
Language: English

Disrupting the intervenor narrative in Appalachian studies.The Appalachian Mountains attracted an endless stream of visitors in the twentieth century, each bearing visions of what they would encounter. Well before large numbers of tourists took to the mountains in the latter half of the century, however, networks of missionaries, sociologists, folklorists, doctors, artists, and conservationists made Appalachia their primary site for fieldwork. In Proving Ground, Edward Slavishak studies several of these interlopers to show that the travelers’ tales were the foundation of powerful forms of insider knowledge. Following four individuals and one cohort as they climbed professional ladders via the Appalachian Mountains, Slavishak argues that these visitors represented occupational and recreational groups that used Appalachia to gain precious expertise. Time spent in the mountains, in the guise of work (or play that mimicked work), distinguished travelers as master problem-solvers and transformed Appalachia into a proving ground for preservationists, planners, hikers, anthropologists, and photographers.Based on archival materials from outdoors clubs, trade journals, field notes, correspondence, National Park Service records, civic promotional materials, and photographs, Proving Ground presents mountain landscapes as a fluid combination of embodied sensation, narrative fantasy, and class privilege. Touching on critical regionalism and mobility studies, this book is a boundary-pushing cultural history of expertise, an environmental history of the Appalachian Mountains, and a historical geography of spaces and places in the twentieth century.

Reviewed By

Review Andrew Crooke (2019) Review of "Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes". Journal of Southern History (pp. 947-948). unapi

Review Sarah Mittlefehldt (April 2019) Review of "Proving Ground: Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes". Environmental History (pp. 424-426). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Alfonso De Nardo
Camp, Michael
Katherine Hood
Dabrowski, Patrice M.
Master, Sharad
Chastain, Andra
Environmental History
Social Studies of Science
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Environment and History
University of Pittsburgh Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
CLEAN Edizioni
University of West Virginia Press
University of Washington Press
University of Nebraska Press
Environmental history
Landscape; landscapes
Travel; exploration
Authorities; experts
Trump, Donald H.
Rock, Joseph F.
Langewiesche, Wolfgang
Fauci, Anthony S.
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
19th century
20th century, late
20th century, early
United States
Appalachian region (North America)
Carpathian Mountains
West Virginia (U.S.)
Pacific Northwest (North America)
National Geographic Society

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