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AFS Review: Notes

History and Folklore Section Awards 2014 Wayland D. Hand Prize to Burley, by Ann Ferrell

Monday, November 24, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lorraine Cashman
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The 2014 Wayland D. Hand Prize for Outstanding Book that Combines Historical and Folkloristic Perspectives was awarded by the AFS History and Folklore section to Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century by Ann K. Ferrell (University Press of Kentucky, 2013)

The Wayland D. Hand Prize is a biennial award given to an outstanding book that combines historical and folkloristic perspectives. It is sponsored by the History and Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society and a jury of distinguished scholars makes the selection. The winner for 2014 is Ann K. Ferrell’s Burley: Kentucky Tobacco in a New Century published by the University Press of Kentucky (2013). According to the jury, Ferrell’s work effectively synthesizes ethnographic, oral history, and archival research to characterize the tobacco cultivation cycle as it occurred during the 2007 season, to assess changing rhetoric about tobacco in state and other publications, to note the way in which tobacco farmers have dealt with innovations in the past, and to comment on the current (and perhaps future) development of tobacco culture. The volume’s combination of historical and ethnographic methodologies with rhetorical analysis stands out among the many entries for the Prize.

Writing precisely and in an engaging style, Ferrell has constructed both a history of the small-farmer burley tobacco industry and an ethnography of tobacco cultivation. She draws upon a variety of primary historical sources which she augments with secondary materials. Her ethnographic fieldwork involves interviewing and participant observation. She grounds but does not overwhelm her data with relevant theory, particularly rhetorical approaches derived largely from Kenneth Burke. She integrates her sources seamlessly and ensures that the voices of her tobacco-grower consultants have a central place in her presentation.

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