Hardback
June 1, 2018
9781421425399
English
232
84632
16
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
0.82 Inches (US)
.95 Pounds (US)
$49.95 USD, £37.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Electronic book text
June 1, 2018
9781421425405
9781421425399
English
232
84632
16
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
$49.95 USD, £37.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Proving Ground

Expertise and Appalachian Landscapes

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.

About the Author

Edward Slavishak is an associate professor of history at Susquehanna University. He is the author of Bodies of Work: Civic Display and Labor in Industrial Pittsburgh.

Endorsements

"An important contribution to Appalachian studies, as well as a valuable work of intellectual history, Proving Ground has a novel and provocative vision."

- T. R. C. Hutton, author of Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South

"Slavishak does us all a service by making a nationally relevant argument about the Appalachian region's importance as a professional proving ground. Refreshingly innovative and gracefully written, this cutting-edge book works at the intersection of environmental and cultural studies in valuable ways I have seen few other authors attempt."

- Kathryn Newfont, author of Blue Ridge Commons: Environmental Activism and Forest History in Western North Carolina

"Filling a gap in the scholarship about Appalachia, Proving Ground studies the processes and techniques of 'intervenors' in the mountains. Well-written and well-documented, this book will make a lasting contribution to the field; I expect it to shape the next generation of Appalachian studies scholars."

- Bill Conlogue, author of Undermined in Coal Country: On the Measures in a Working Land

Reviews

"Proving Ground provides fertile terrain for thinking about the politics of expertise and makes important contributions to intellectual history and Appalachian studies. Slavishak has produced an eloquently written and thought-provoking book."

- Sarah Mittlefehldt, Northern Michigan University - Environmental History

"Eloquently written and prodigiously researched... Proving Ground is an intensely interesting story of intersecting perspectives—particularly of place, environment, and culture—that gives "close attention to the messy material of human encounters with landscapes" (p. 13). This provocative book will lead regionalists to examine what made the Appalachian proving ground similar, and different, from other such terrain."

- Chad Berry, Berea College - Journal of American History

"Exhaustively researched and skillfully composed... The most impressive features of Proving Ground are the depth of Slavishak's research into important but relatively unknown personalities and cultural trends, regional and national, and his familiarity with the history and vocabulary of each of several very different professional, aesthetic, academic, and recreational pursuits as practiced within the Appalachians."

- Ricky Cox, Radford University - North Carolina Historical Review

"Situated at the crossroads of environmental history, critical regionalism, and visual studies, this masterful book synthesizes these fields to assess the approaches of several Appalachian interlopers. Slavishak's case studies of preservationists, planners, hikers, anthropologists, and photographers convincingly demonstrate that specialists proved themselves to their peers by gaining and displaying on-the-ground expertise through formidable, marginalized landscapes... Foremost among Slavishak's many fine attributes is his ability to contextualize and analyze... a skill he exhibits throughout this diligently researched and elegantly written book, which proves his own expertise in the fertile interdisciplinary ground of Appalachian studies."

- Andrew Crooke, East Stroudsburg University - Journal of Southern History
Johns Hopkins University Press
From 17

9781421425399 : proving-ground-slavishak
Hardback
232 Pages
$49.95 USD
9781421425405 : proving-ground-slavishak
Electronic book text
232 Pages
$49.95 USD

Other Titles in HISTORY / Historical Geography

Mapping an Atlantic World, circa 1500

Alida C. Metcalf
Oct 2020 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text

Making Bourbon

Karl Raitz
Mar 2020 - University Press of Kentucky
$60.00 USD - book

Writing Cities

James Amelang
Dec 2019 - Central European University Press
$24.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in Geography

Mapping an Atlantic World, circa 1500

Alida C. Metcalf
Oct 2020 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text

The Cotton Plantation South since the Civil War

Charles S. Aiken
Mar 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$50.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$50.00 USD - Electronic book text

City Building on the Eastern Frontier

Diane Shaw
Mar 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$51.00 USD - Hardback
$51.00 USD - Electronic book text