Native to the Soil: Twentieth-Century Agrarian Thought in the Upland South
Taking the lives and work of writers from the Upland South, this dissertation seeks to find out how agrarian thinkers understood the place and meaning of rural life in the twentieth century. Scholars have underscored the degree to which southern agrarians both drew upon and shaped conservative, even reactionary, intellectual currents in the region. In doing so, however, they have flattened the contours of southern agrarian ideas, leaving the mistaken impression that a single set of values defined it. This study argues that no single point of view, set of beliefs, or value system shaped agrarian thought in the South, but rather, such thinking was made up of a host of different perspectives that collectively point to the continued significance of rural life to American life. Agrarian thinking is worth studying because it reveals the significance of rural life to American identity in a way that helps us understand how ideas about rural life continued to shape the American imagination in the midst of a national decline in rural communities.