What is Appalachia, Really?

If you want to understand rural America, critics say, look beyond Hillbilly Elegy.

December 16, 2017, 5:00 AM PST

By Elana Eden


Gatlinburg, Tennessee. | Sean Pavone / Shutterstock

Since its publication in June 2016, J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy has gained media acclaim for its portrayal of life in a region considered opaque by those outside of it. But the book has also been roundly criticized for feeding into the caricature and demonization of rural communities facing extreme poverty, substandard infrastructure, and economic upheaval.

Rather than indulge what he calls "a blame-the-victim and culture-of-poverty narrative," Eric Kerl of Chitucky has put together a collection of alternative resources for those seeking to understand Appalachian history, culture, and politics, highlighting the underlying issues of "poverty, racism, underdevelopment, and struggle" that have structured the region.

The syllabus includes some recent and forthcoming publications, including What You Are Getting Wrong About Appalachia (February 2018) by Elizabeth Catte—who criticized Elegy  on her blog and for Boston Review—and Steven Stoll's Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia (November 2017), reviewed here by Pro Publica.

Sunday, December 10, 2017 in Chitucky

Soldier Field

Phase 1 Revealed for $20 Billion Chicago Megaproject

Plans for One Central, a proposed megadevelopment that would add 22.3 million square feet of buildings to the city of Chicago, are taking shape.

October 19, 2021 - Chicago Tribune


Boston Introduces 'Maximum Parking Ratios' for Large Buildings

Large buildings with uses of all kinds will be subject to Boston's new "Maximum Parking Ratios."

October 14, 2021 - Streetsblog Mass

GIS Mobile App

Survey: What Mobile Apps Are Most Useful for Planning in 2021?

Planetizen is requesting your input in creating the definitive list of mobile apps for professional, student, academic, or citizen planners—updated for a planning profession forever altered by the Covid-19 pandemic.

October 18, 2021 - Planetizen

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.