Enveloped in mystery, Amish culture has remained a captivating topic within mainstream American culture. In The Amish in the American Imagination, David Weaver-Zercher explores how Americans throughout the twentieth century reacted to and interpreted the Amish. Through an examination of a variety of visual and textual sources, Weaver-Zercher explores how diverse groups―ranging from Mennonites to Hollywood producers―represented and understood the Amish.
Unlike previous studies that focus on Amish interaction with the broader American culture, The Amish in the American Imagination emphasizes how the various members of that larger culture see the Amish and, in turn, what these interpretations reveal about twentieth-century mainstream American culture and society. Weaver-Zercher argues that, through different representations of the Amish, "English" Americans appropriated what they viewed as exotic, rural Americans for ideological, commercial, and spiritual purposes. This engaging book thus identifies the various functions the Amish served for their American neighbors, most of whom led lives far removed from the Amish existence they imagined.
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"The phenomenon of the Amish as a social icon and cultural manipulative has received little attention, and none as careful as this book. This well-written, carefully researched study offers an original and important presentation of a subject rarely explored: the function of the Amish in American society."—Steve Nolt, Goshen CollegeAbout the Author:
David Weaver-Zercher is associate professor of American religious history at Messiah College.
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