Monday, May 21, 2018

[392] ‘MTSU On the Record’ takes different view of Appalachian culture

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. —An MTSU alumna takes issue with the author of “Hillbilly Elegy” on the next “MTSU On the Record” radio program.

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Elizabeth Catte, author of “What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia,” will air from 9:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, and from 6 to 6:30 a.m. Sunday, April 22, on WMOT-FM Roots Radio 89.5 and

Catte’s book contends that J.D. Vance’s bestseller depicts people who live in the region around the Appalachian Mountains as “a mournful and dysfunctional ‘other’ who represent the darkest failures of the American Dream while seeking to proscribe how we—the presumed audience of indifferent elites—should feel about their collective fate.”

She rebuts this narrative by debunking stereotypes of Appalachians as uneducated, blue-collar workers who gravitated to Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign because he validated their views that African-Americans, women and undocumented immigrants took their jobs away from them.

Unfortunately, Catte believes the changing demographics of the region, which now includes Asians, Hispanics and other ethnic groups, have not changed perceptions of the area.

“African-American and Latino populations are the fastest growing groups in Appalachia,” Catte said. “If you are a young person in various parts of Appalachia, you have the potential to come of age in some of the most diverse generations that Appalachia has seen. To my mind, the dominant narrative that tries to capture the experience of Appalachia does not acknowledge that reality at all.”

“Hillbilly Elegy” was the book incoming students were encouraged to read in the 2017 Summer Reading Program. Vance delivered an address based on his book at the August 2017 University Convocation in Murphy Center.

To hear previous “MTSU On the Record” programs, go to

For more information about the radio program, contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800. 

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