For those of you who might be interested, my doctoral dissertation is now available to download for free online. You can find it at:
Once you follow the link, just click the pdf file on the left of the screen.
Below is a short summary of the study. I plan to transform the dissertation into a book that will expand my themes. Until then... enjoy this version. Cheers.
Soldiers and Stereotypes: Mountaineers, Cultural Identity, and World War II
To what extent are Appalachian stereotypes true and how much is pure fabrication? This study seeks to answer this question by examining the experiences of West Virginia soldiers during World War II. Appalachian hillbillies, believed to be culturally backward, uncivilized, isolated, and prone to violence, were often sent straight to the infantry because it was believed that their wild mountain heritage made them inherently better fighters. Using interviews, letters, and a collection of over 1,200 firsthand written accounts of Appalachian veterans collected by West Virginia University in 1946, this study traces the evolution of the cultural and individual identities of mountaineers throughout their time in the United States military. These West Virginia narratives are also compared and contrasted with those of other soldiers in the United States and around the world. Because every single ethnicity and race in the world fought and was exposed to many similar circumstances, the war itself is the ultimate litmus test for the validity of cultural stereotypes. If stereotypes associated with Appalachians are true, then their wartime narratives will reflect different reactions to soldiering and war based on their own inherent cultural traits. If not, then their reactions to war will be similar to those of other soldiers from different regions and nations. This study endeavors to demonstrate what the Second World War reveals about the changing identity of West Virginia soldiers, and more specifically, the culture and stereotypes associated with them.
- C. Belmont Keeney
- I'm an author, historian (Ph.D., WVU), musician, professor, and mountaineer. I have published two books, To Live Again, a classical myth set in contemporary Appalachia, and Defending the Homeland, a collection of essays on radicalism and national security. Welcome to my blog.