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Alumni News

Meredith McCarroll Wins American Book Award

Meredith McCarrolMeredith McCarroll (’11)  has just won an American Book Award for her co-edited collection, Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, with Antony Harkins. McCarroll graduated with a Ph.D. from the University of Tennessee in 2011.

From the Before Columbus Foundation:

Meredith McCarroll is Director of Writing at Bowdoin College, where she teaches writing, Southern and American literature, and film. McCarroll is the author of Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film (University of Georgia Press), which asserts the racial liminality of the Appalachian figure in Hollywood film, and offers a rereading of Appalachian film through the lens of Critical Race Theory and Whiteness Studies. Along with Anthony Harkins, McCarroll edited Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy (West Virginia University Press) which complicates a monolithic portrayal of the region with scholarship, narrative essays, poetry and photography.

“In this illuminating and wide-ranging collection, the authors do more than just debunk the simplistic portrayal of white poverty found in Hillbilly Elegy. They profoundly engage with the class, racial, and political reasons behind a Silicon Valley millionaire’s sudden triumph as the most popular spokesman for what one contributor cleverly calls ‘Trumpalachia.’ This book is a powerful corrective to the imperfect stories told of the white working class, rural life, mountain folk, and the elusive American Dream.”

— Nancy Isenberg, author of White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America

Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia’s intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities.