Hillbilly Atticus

18 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2019 Last revised: 20 Sep 2019

See all articles by Judy M. Cornett

Judy M. Cornett

University of Tennessee College of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2019


In his controversial memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance implicitly asserts a connection between the individual and his or her culture. Vance’s work rests on a number of premises. An individual is a product of a particular culture, and that culture defines the choices available to that individual. Therefore, understanding a person requires an understanding of the culture from which that person comes. Conversely, by looking at individuals within a given culture, we can define the culture and generalize its characteristics to other individuals within that culture. Although several commentators have pushed back against the latter proposition by pointing out that not all denizens of Appalachia underwent the same experiences as Vance, few commentators have challenged the former proposition: that we can understand an individual better by understanding the culture from which he or she comes.

Keywords: law and literature, law and humanities, law and culture

Suggested Citation

Cornett, Judy M., Hillbilly Atticus (March 1, 2019). Alabama Law Review, Vol. 69, No. 561, 2019; University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 379. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3436900

Judy M. Cornett (Contact Author)

University of Tennessee College of Law ( email )

1505 West Cumberland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37996
United States
865,974,6827 (Phone)
865.974.0681 (Fax)

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