Appalachia as Trumpland: Honor, Precarity, and Affect in Literature from the Mountain South

Marianne Kongerslev, Clara Juncker

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

412 Downloads (Pure)


Literary and cultural texts by southern poor whites in the hills of the Ozarks and Appalachia and southern migrants in Rustbelt Ohio explode with feelings such as hatred, desperation, and anger, resulting from the continual precaritization and marginalization of the mountain communities. In (auto)biographical texts as well as in literary fiction, the “hillbilly” community is represented as self-segregated, proud, and independent, with special notions of honor and loyalty. Exploring the (dis)connections between the literary emotions of the people of the Mountain South and the code of southern honor that has produced and sustained them, this article argues that the anxious and angry emotions that Donald Trump taps into as a political strategy are not new, but rather have been building throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries. The first manifestations that this precarious affective structure was forming can be seen in this regional literature, illustrating the potential in explorations of literary ugly feelings (Ngai, 2005) of marginalized southerners. Thus, the article uncovers how poor whites position their precarious existences in Trump’s USA and how they employ various affective strategies to articulate their whiteness and their anxiety.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolish Journal for American Studies
Issue numberAutumn 2019
Pages (from-to)179-191
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Affect
  • Trump
  • Southern Honor
  • Masculinity
  • Memoirs
  • Precarity
  • Mountain South

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Appalachia as Trumpland: Honor, Precarity, and Affect in Literature from the Mountain South'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this