Seekers of Scenery

Travel Writing from Southern Appalachia, 1840-1900

  • Author(s): O’Donnell, Kevin, and Helen Hollingsworth, eds.
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2004-12-01
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Cloth: Price $42.00 | Buy Now

During the nineteenth century, American travelers began to “discover” southern Appalachia and to define it within mainstream American culture. As a result, American periodicals—from national publications such as Harper’s and The Atlantic Monthly to smaller circulation magazines such as DeBow’s and The Lakeside Monthly—published a great deal about the region, which encompasses parts of Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.

Eighteen articles, culled from this body of literature—including work by Rebecca Harding Davis, W. E. B. DuBois, and Constance Fenimore Woolson—make up this volume. Some passages now read as environmental elegy: descriptions of old-growth forests long since cut, waterfalls now dammed, vistas now hidden behind pollution on high ridges. A variety of genres present a historic view of the region, as well as providing insight into the construction of travel writing in the nineteenth century.

For readers interested in the history and culture of the region, these articles offer a glimpse of the social, economic, and political forces that shaped the region as we now know it. They describe economic and domestic practices in the 1800s; show how the image of the “mountaineer”—a distinct, white, southern Appalachian archetype—emerged in the national consciousness; and detail the development of the region during a crucial period.

The volume contains helpful glosses and explanatory notes, while maps aid twenty-first-century travelers in following nineteenth-century travel routes. In addition, the book is beautifully illustrated with many woodblock engravings.

Contributors: George Cooke, Charles Lanman, Oliver Bell Bunce, Julian Ralph, Bradford Torrey, David Hunter Strother, Constance Fenimore Woolson, Rebecca Harding Davis, Charles Dudley Warner, William Wallace Harney, Louise Coffin Jones, James Lane Allen, Lee Meriwether, Margaret Johann, W. E. B. Du Bois, Jehu Lewis, George Dimmock, Frank O. Carpenter

Kevin O’Donnell is associate professor of English at East Tennessee State University and is director of that school’s writing-across-the-curriculum program. Helen Hollingsworth was a professor of English at East Tennessee State University. She contributed articles to Appalachia Inside Out: Conflict and Change, and The Highlands Bulletin.