Tom, thank you for this thoughtful response!
I’m really struck by your comments on how the college / non-college line is also marked by access to this kind of discourse (PC, intersectionality, the whole think-it-through socioeconomic critique). Woah. That is a major, major thing!
I’m totally adding both Emma’s essay and your comment to our local progressive book group readings (yeah more people with college degrees talking in complicated ways about inaccessible books). I did have the pleasure, as an underpaid adjunct at my state’s flagship university (Idaho), of teaching high-school “Upward Bound” students as well as freshmen how to look at films critically, that is, how to enjoy “The Thin Blue Line,” or “Smoke Signals,” or “Never Cry Wolf” not just as mystery or adventure but also as social criticism. How to see the underlying themes of class, race, gender and environment as thought-provoking calls to question those unquestioned lines, groups and barriers in US society that shut out so many people from so many opportunities. It was always wonderful to read essays or hear presentations from kids who didn’t come from much and were now raising questions about race and gender in science, or injustice in the US criminal system. I gotta think about how to do that more with the general public, now that I’m stuck in a small town with no university … but a very large food pantry.
Have you read Joshua Wilkey’s blog? He’s my favorite writer on these topics, and the one who turned me on to the amazing David Joy (“Where All Light Tends To Go” is the most breathtaking answer to “Hillbilly Elegy” ever).
2018 — Joshua Wilkey — This Appalachian Life. I’m Joshua Wilkey. Welcome to my blog! Here, I write about Appalachia with a particular focus on the region’s long struggle with poverty. The parts of my identity most important to me can be summed up with a list: husband, Lutheran Christian, educator, historian, dog dad, writer, …