American National Culture Analysis

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Culture is a word that many different definitions; however, put simply, culture is the beliefs and values of people, which ties development of languages and traditions together. In Paul K. Conkin article, “Evangelicals, Fugitives, and Hillbillies: Tennessee’s impact on American National Culture,” Conkin writes about culture, or more specifically Tennessee’s culture. His essay begins with explaining why no one has really written about a culture within state boundaries, and he doesn’t blame it on a scandal or lack of imagination and interest from scholars, rather he ties it to a problem with adapting a cultural perspective when observing Tennessee’s or any other state’s history. Then Conkin brings about his main point of his essay, which is focused…show more content…
Tennessee, for the longest time, had the highest illiteracy rate, mostly because of the black population and poor mountain whites. For many years there was little improvements, but population growth and consistent improvement in per capita income helped the illiteracy problem; however, there was little to no change. In the 1920s the South was known as a literacy waste land. Writers were celebrated before World War I but after the war ended few notable writers where in Tennessee. It wasn’t until a group of Vanderbilt students wrote, The Fugitive, did the South really start to turn toward better literature. Originally, these students wrote, The Fugitive, as an escape from the sentimentality of most writing about the South. However, in the mid-1920s they decided to become deeply involved in their southern identity and became committed to better the literature of the South. In the next decades Tennessee began to draw in writers from all over America, and it was second only to Harvard in publishing writings from famous artist during this time. A critical improvement to literature from Tennessee was the new form of criticism created by Ransom, Tate, and Warren, which would…show more content…
Conkin talks about how Tennessee, in comparison to other states, had similar art. However, what causes Tennessee and the South as a whole to stand out was country music. Country music is, according to Conkin’s description of the national definition of country music, is anything a farmer would appreciate and listen too. Conkin explains that the exact origin of country music isn’t known, but it’s tied to older ballets of English and Scottish origin and to isolated families in the mountains. Conkin describes three things that formed modern country music that people listen to: early church gospel, frolics and square dances, and cowboy music. All of these created the different images that people picture when they listen to country music. Then Conkin tells of the different type of musical genres that have evolved from country music: country gospel, yodeling, and bluegrass. Conkin goes on to explain how Tennessee played a big role in a music genre that swept the nation. There are more Tennesseans in the Country Music Hall of Fame than any other state. Almost every business leader, that is involved in country music, has some tie to Nashville and most country music stars own property in Tennessee. Also, East Tennessee, as Paul Conkin explains, was literally there at the creation of the commercial birth of country music, which is greatly tied to the involvement of the talent

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