Border States Home Page Border States: Journal of the Kentucky-Tennessee American Studies Association, No. 9 (1993)


In compiling Border States #9, the editors noticed that the related themes of harmony and conflict recur throughout the issue. Five of the essays selected develop these themes in relation to the family life in the region and three in relation to religion.

In our first essay, David Jutkins describes a house designed to promote harmony in the family. Using plans published in 1909 in Gustav Stickley's Craftsman, Clark Woodard, an industrial arts instructor at Middle Tennessee State College, adapted the design to regional conditions in a bungalow still in use today. Fred Johnson reaches back into the history of the region to report further on the Sharp-Beauchamp tragedy, which he and Jack Cooke introduced to readers of Border States in 1987. This conflict arose when Anna Cooke promised her hand in marriage to Jereboam Beauchamp if he promised to kill Colonel Solomon P. Sharp. Those familiar with codes of honor in this area during the 1820s will not be surprised to learn that this conflict resulted in the deaths of the three principals. Eleanor Beiswenger discusses the correspondence between poet Allen Tate and novelist Caroline Gordon, both Kentucky natives, as they attemped to salvage their second marriage. Anita Turpin considers how Bobbie Ann Mason's fiction treats Kentucky families confronting K-Marts, shopping malls, and changes in traditional family roles. Turpin endorses Mason's anti-nostalgic view that family life in "the old days" was brutish and poverty-stricken. Gwen White examines Lisa Alther's 1976 novel Kinflicks, set in East Tennessee, in terms of how a mother and daughter escape, in different ways, the family obligations that tend to destroy the self.

In the first of three essays concerned primarily with religious harmony and conflict, Rick Gregory traces a connection between religion and violence, using as a starting point the Black Patch tobacco wars of the early 1900s and relating these events to the tradition of religious emotionalism in the region reaching back to the Great Revival of 1800. Timothy Arnold recounts the spiritual journey of a divided self who finds spiritual harmony by coming back home in Divine Right's Trip, by Kentucky author Gurney Norman. Harry Robie describes the migration of a group of people from the Appalachian region to the Cascade Mountains of the Far West. Conflict arises within the group as some members wish to change their religious customs to meet new conditions, while others wish to hold on to practices and beliefs transported from their native region.

Michael Dunne and Sarah H. Howell, editors

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