Introduction to American Studies

 

Upland South

  1. How is the Upland South similar to the Mid-Atlantic? How is it different from the Deep South?

Upland south basically refers to the northern region of Southern U.S. and it’s defined by culture, history, and landform and apparently doesn’t match up to the state demarcations. This region includes areas covered by the Lower South States like eastern Oklahoma, central Alabama, North Alabama, North Georgia, and the Upstate commonly called South Carolina.  The area also includes some parts of the Northern states, like Southern Ohio, southern Indiana, and southern Illinois around the Shawnee hills. The Upland South region surfaced as a distinctive expanse in late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century and came about through immigration and settlement outlines from the colonial coastal areas into upland. The common pattern included westward relocation from the piedmont and low country regions of Maryland, North Carolina, and Virginia, plus southwestern relocation from Pennsylvania. Huge quantities of European migrants entered Philadelphia and pursued the Great Wagon Road towards south and west into the Appalachian Highlands.  These settlers were majorly Upland Southerners thus to a great deal the culture of the region originated from southeastern Pennsylvania.

The mid-Atlantic region on the other hand was an area located between the South Atlantic States and New England and it includes: North Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, New York, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. This region generally played a vital role in shaping the American industry, trade, commerce, and culture. The two regions, Upland South and Mid-Atlantic areas share similar cultures in that some of the European settlers who settled in the Upland South region originated from the Mid-Atlantic States. The two regions also carried out farming and their culinary patters basically influenced the American cookery.

The Deep South region is located in the American South and its quite different from the Upland South since the area was mainly reliant on plantation form of agriculture. The region covered the cotton belt extending from South Carolina to the eastern part of North Carolina and slavery was more eminent in the region. The Blacks worked in the plantations and contained the black belt which was a region inhabited by the African-Americans. The area is composed of the following states: South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama.

 

  1. How are the cabin, double-pen, saddlebag, and dogtrot similar? How are they different?

The European settlers constructed farmhouses to house their families and store their produce. These houses/shelters were formed in different housing styles and they included the cabins, double-pen houses, saddlebag, and dogtrot and they were similar in that all of them were wooden made from cypress and cedar trees. Bricks or rocks formed from lime or oyster acted as pilings and they kept the houses off the ground. All the types of shelters also had large shade porch to provide reprieve from the scorching sun.

The cabin shelter was basically a log cottage which had a lone room with several windows and one door. Shutters and mosquito netting were placed on the windows to keep off insects while a block or stony chimney was located on one end of the shelter. An extensive verandah presented a moderately cool area to sit. A double-pen house occurred when an addition cabin was erected on the partition directly opposite the wall of the chimney whereas when the addition was constructed on the same chimney wall, then the shelter was referred to as a saddle-bag house. On the other hand, the dog-trot house had 2 pens which were divided by a breezeway or a central open-air hall and therefore all rooms were connected by a universal room. The house also had quite a large veranda and was raised above the ground with no front door.

  1. What are the key elements of bluegrass music? Using Bill Monroe’s version of of events from “Bill Monroe: Father of Bluegrass,” trace the development of bluegrass music using Bill Monroe as the central character.

The bluegrass music is generally a type of American roots music which lies in the music genre called country music and was stirred by the Appalachian music. This type of music has varied roots around English, Irish, welsh, Scottish and African-Americans via the integration of jazz fundamentals.  It is a string band music composed of 4 to 7 performers accompanied by sound string instruments like the Dobro, string bass, steel guitar, mandolin, five string banjo, fiddle, double bass, and guitar. The vocal accord features 2, 3, or 4 parts regularly with a modal or dissonant resonance having the peak voice. The tunes of bluegrass music are mostly narratives surrounding daily people lives.

The bluegrass type of music has evolved over the years since its inception by Bill Monroe who made up the first generation musicians in the 1940s through to mid 1960s. These musicians used the original accompaniments including mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and Dobro amongst others. The second development in bluegrass music occurred in the 1960s to 1970s whereby musicians started composing, recording, and performing the bluegrass music and apart from newcomers, there were also the first generation musicians like Bill Monroe who were also involved in this development.

The 3rd generation development on bluegrass music occurred around mid 1980s to early 1990s where the music became “mainstream bluegrass” and instruments changed to capture the high-quality resonance equipments which allowed separate microphones for each band member and electric bass was introduced. Electrification of the other musical instruments occurred and there was revitalization of further traditional songs performed in a newer style. Moreover, there has been recent development in the genre whereby it has gone into global mainstream and therefore has got to a wider audience and has seen jazz and country music performers fuse bluegrass music into their productions.

  1. How is barbecue important as both an American and a regional foodway?

Pigs have always been a main staple food in America and commonly the southern part of the country. The barbecue is both an American and regional foodway since it has a predominant cultural importance deeply rooted in social and festival rituals. The cultural account of the South has borne the customs and rites’ surrounding the consumption of barbecue and it brings out the sex roles, race relations, and development of social relationships found in the American south. Moreover, the strong traditional inherent consumption of barbecue also stemmed from the fact that pork added taste to food without being expensive and during the great Depression majority of the Southerners used pork as it was termed as economical. Therefore, barbecue reminds the Americans of their tradition and aspects of culture.

 

  1. After viewing “Appalachian Journey,” explain why expressive forms like ballads, tales, and fiddle tunes are important to Appalachian culture.

The Appalachian culture is highly expressed through the Appalachian music which has been primarily derived from the Scottish and Irish fiddle music as well as Scottish and English ballad tradition. Expressive forms like fiddle tunes, tales, and ballads are extremely important in the entire Appalachian culture as they describe or rather show the community’s culture and enables the new generation catch a glimpse of the real Appalachian culture. Tales, dances, and music show the way the culture used to be and tales emanated from the mountain life the Appalachian people encountered once they settled in the mountain side.

 

Deep South

  1. How did Deep South race relations of the 19th century sculpt the 20th century? How are they still shaping the 21st century?

The Deep South region was composed of White settlers and the black community who at first were slaves in the agricultural plantations. There was massive segregation between the Whites and Blacks even after the country got independence and in fact about 45 years ago intermarriage between the two races was illegal. The boomer generation received quite high racial prejudices while they were growing around the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s and the Blacks had been segregated into their own parts of town. It was hard to find interracial couples and if any they were living in hell since both sides of their families would have detested them in the first place. With many civic rights movements fighting against the abolishment of slavery and racial segregation in the 19th century led to constitutional Amendments banning slavery and racial segregation in social amenities. The 20th century saw changes in racial relations where people could interact freely, attend same institutions, and board same transport systems.  Changes are also evident whereby there has been recorded many multiracial marriages in the Deep South in the 21st century therefore still shaping racial relations.

  1. What is a shotgun house? What is its origin? Why were they built?

 

A shotgun house is normally a thin long rectangular familial residence, which is not more than twelve feet wide, and has rooms positioned one at the back of other with doors placed at both ends of the house. Its origin is quite controversial but its thought to have African beginnings in the American South. The structure was first build in New Orleans in early 19th century immediately after the American Revolution war. These models of houses were built to accommodate the high influx of people who were moving to cities to occupy the emerging manufacturing jobs. Since they were economical to build, many people build them to provide economical shelter for people with limited.

  1. The Delta Blues are a distinctly American form of music. What are the various explanations given for the roots of the Delta Blues?

The Delta Blues is a style of blues music first incepted in the region of Mississippi Delta and the leading instruments applied include cigar box guitar, harmonica, and guitar. The root of Delta Blues lies in African music commonly from West Africa and reached America through the slave trade. The vocal methodology and theme emanates carries a west African background and also the timbre and tone reflects an African influence. Also, others believe that this type of music is just a variant of country blues music and got influenced by the social and cultural integrations in the Deep South region.

  1. What is Mardi Gras? Is there more to it than drunken revelry?

Mardi Gras carnival celebrations and its culture was brought into the country by the Spanish and French settlers in the Deep South region. Mardi Gras refers to proceedings of a festival celebrations, which starts after the Epiphany and ends a day prior to Ash Wednesday. The day of the celebrations sometimes known as Shrove Tuesday, meaning to confess has a strong religious custom and obligation and is associated with the penance period of Lent. Therefore, it is usually more than a drunken revelry since it’s a spiritual celebration immediately before the custom Lenten season.

  1. How the crawfish is boil an important part of Cajun identity? How does the Cajun’s relationship to the crawfish differ from the Mainer’s relationship to the lobster? How is it similar?

The crawfish boil is actually tied to the Cajun’ culinary Calendar and culture and plays the role of seasonality as well as a ritual of passage. This ceremony is conducted by fathers and they organizes a carnival so as to tribute a landmark in their kid’s life therefore giving them identity through instilling and reflecting on regional principles such as sense of community and patriarchal leadership. The Maine lobster or rather Maine is mostly renowned to produce the highest quantities of lobster in the country and has risen from 20 million pounds annually between 1950s and 1980s and recently this has risen to about 126 million pounds of lobster annually. Therefore, the relationship between Cajun and crawfish is quite different since its viewed as a rite of passage while in Maine’ lobster is seen as a source of income.

The Scranton Ghost walk is an annual event which involves people taking tours around the downtown at night with lantern lights. I have heard tragic and spooky tales about the Scranton town which reveals that the town was once haunted by ghosts who brought tragic deaths and weird disasters to the town dwellers long time ago.  The ghosts are known to habit the numerous underground and abandoned tunnels which crisscross the town and they are purported to have emergent at night to terrorize the residents.