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Portraits of Appalachia: The Identification of Stereotype in Publishers' Bookbindings, 1850 - 1915

Stewart Plein
Journal of Appalachian Studies
Vol. 15, No. 1/2 (Spring/Fall 2009), pp. 99-115
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41446821
Page Count: 17
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Portraits of Appalachia: The Identification of Stereotype in Publishers' Bookbindings, 1850 - 1915
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Abstract

Throughout the mid-nineteenth century, publishers issued books with decorative covers designed to evoke images of the settings and tales they enclosed. These decorated books, known as publishers' bindings, were used as marketing tools to attract customers and increase sales. The designs served two purposes: a means to corner the market with an attractive product and meet manufacturing requirements that necessitated the repetitive stamping of cover images in quick succession in order to meet demand. Much of the literature from this time period focused on the Appalachian region and its people. A taste for literature reflecting local color was interpreted by the binding designer, an artist commissioned by the publisher, to create the book's cover art. It is the work of the binding designer, in combination with the text, which helped to forge the stereotypes and misconceptions of Appalachians and the Appalachian region. It is through the lens of publishers' bindings that we seek to understand the cultural viewpoints of the day and the legacy of the interpretations of the Appalachian region by the publishers, designers, and writers of the time. This paper proposes to examine the role publishers' bindings played in the development of the image of Appalachia through original research and a literature review that considers the image of Appalachia in the context of publishers' bindings.

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