Appalachian Pastoral

BookAppalachian Pastoral

Appalachian Pastoral

Mountain Excursions, Aesthetic Visions, and The Antebellum Travel Narrative

Clemson University Press: Eighteenth-Century Moments


October 1st, 2022





This project overall attempts to recast Appalachian literature in terms of a ‘lost tradition’ of texts that are generally out-of-print though of central importance to understanding the history of the region and its current environmental and cultural challenges. The epilogue will also consider the way that ecological-based literary criticism offers a vital language for how antebellum travel writers sought to frame the region from a 19th-century environmental point of view.

The book aims to resituate the field of Appalachian Studies to an earlier historic genesis in the 19th-century and bring to light several books which have received scant scholarly attention in the canon of Appalachian and American literature, respectively. The book centers on the argument that mid-19th-century travel writers going through or from the Appalachian region drew on familiar versions of 18th-century European, mainly British, landscape aesthetics that would help make the readerly experience less alien to their erudite regional and Northern audiences. These travel writers, such as Philip Pendleton Kennedy and David Hunter Strother, consciously appropriated such aesthetic tropes as the pastoral as a way to further dramatic the effect in their nonfiction accounts of Appalachia, while the reader could find such references comforting as they considered whether to domesticate or tour the Appalachian region.

Author Information

Michael S. Martin is currently an Associate Professor of English, Modern Languages, and Cultural Studies at Nicholls State University, in Thibodaux, Louisiana. He works in the fields of 19th-century American literature, Native American literature, Appalachian Studies, and colonial American literature. His current project traces a biographical and theoretical symmetry between Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne on silence and aurality in the 19th-century. Another recent project is a study of the way that sickness and exoticism functioned within the Louisiana section of William Bartram’s Travels (1791). Much of his writing has centered on portrayals of space and place in 19th-century American works, including recorded Cherokee orature from the 1890s.

Table of Contents

Section TitlePage
Chapter 1 “The Space around Me Appeared to be a Wilderness of Mountains”:
Encountering Place in Antebellum Travel Narratives from the Interior Mountain
Chapter 2 New
Settings, New Contexts for Pan and Faunus: “The country of herdsmen and shepherds”
Chapter 3 Appalachia as Readable “Picturesque Touring”: David Hunter Strother,
Henry Colton, and Imagined Sites of Nostalgia
Chapter 4 “The
beautiful of the awe and sublime”: Appalachia’s New
Testing Ground for Burke’s Conceit
Chapter 5 Towards a Rural Ideal: Appalachian Travel Writing and The Final
Design within Landscape Aesthetics