Starnes, Richard D. 1970-
Starnes, Richard D. 1970-
Born October 17, 1970. Education: Auburn University, Ph.D.
Office—Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723. E-mail—[email protected]
Academic and historian. Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, associate professor of history, department chair, Oral History Project director. Hunter Scholar, 2003-04.
(Editor) Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 2003.
Creating the Land of the Sky: Tourism and Society in Western North Carolina, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 2005.
(Editor, with Gordon E. Harvey and Glenn Feldman) History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism, and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South, University of Alabama Press (Tuscaloosa, AL), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals and academic journals, including Southern Cultures and North Carolina Historical Review.
Richard D. Starnes is an academic and historian. Born on October 17, 1970, he completed a Ph.D. at Auburn University. Starnes then entered a career in academia, eventually becoming an associate professor of history and department chair at Western Carolina University. He also serves as the director of the university's Oral History Project. From 2003 to 2004 he was named as a Hunter Scholar. Starnes's research interests center on the social and economic history of the American South. He contributes to a number of academic journals, including Southern Cultures and the North Carolina Historical Review.
Starnes edited his first book, Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South, in 2003. The book collects eleven essays discussing the influence of tourism in the American South. The book aims to define tourism as being created and shaped by twentieth-century inhabitants of the region, and not by the romantic idea of earlier pioneers.
John A. Jakle, writing in the Journal of Southern History, observed that the essays were organized chronologically, suggesting, however, that the essays "might better have been arranged by topic." Jakle concluded, though, that "Starnes's edited anthology should be considered a welcome addition to the literature on southern history. Taken together, the essays do forcefully point to the importance of tourism as a factor in the South's modern development."
Starnes published Creating the Land of the Sky: Tourism and Society in Western North Carolina in 2005. The account focuses on the Appalachian Mountain region of western North Carolina and the way that tourism is created and defined and how it affects the local communities.
Cynthia J. Miller, writing on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, acknowledged the book's strongest asset as its detail, but noted that "the abundance of information is also its chief weakness. It can be difficult at times for the reader to manage the many overlapping trends and events, stalls and revitalizations in the development of tourism." Miller summarized that "readers of Creating the Land of the Sky will find the effort of managing this wealth of information a worthwhile effort. For Starnes's work is a treasure-trove of dedicated research. From hog drover stands to the Biltmore Estate, and from geehaw whimmy-diddles to Harrah's Casino, the text explores the intricate answers to questions about the ways in which landscape, tradition, livelihood, and symbolism variously collide and combine to bring the ethos of the western North Carolina region into being, both for those who visit and for those with a claim to belonging," concluding that "with this volume, Starnes has rendered a range of diverse perspectives and interests throughout key historical moments into an engaging study of the crafting of a regional identity, and thus made a significant contribution to southern history and the scholarship of tourism."
Allen W. Batteau, reviewing the book in the Journal of Southern History, described it as "a thickly textured portrait of the coevolution of a region and one of its dominant industries," pointing out that "the oral histories, particularly interviews with non-elite citizens in the tourism industry, are especially valuable." Batteau proposed: "I would like to have seen in this book a consideration of ‘why tourism.’" Nevertheless, Batteau concluded that the book "gives a thorough regional portrait of one of the longest-standing destinations of American tourists." Karl E. Campbell, writing in the Journal of Social History, allowed that "Star- nes's synthetic approach is one of the book's greatest strengths. But for such a large undertaking the book is surprisingly short," criticizing that "too frequently Starnes raises an issue or event only to drop it before explaining its full significance." Campbell observed that "Starnes wisely avoids taking sides on whether tourism represented a successful or failed model of economic development for western North Carolina." Campbell concluded that "Creating the Land of the Sky will not be the final word on the history of tourism in the southern Appalachians, but forthcoming studies will be built on its pathbreaking approach. The questions Starnes has raised will define the field for years to come."
In 2006 Starnes edited History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism, and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South with Gordon E. Harvey and Glenn Feldman. The book's essays cover the scholarship of historian Wayne Flynt, who focused primarily on Southern society and culture. Primarily centered on Alabama, the essays discuss race, poverty, regional decline, and the influence of special interest groups in the region.
William B. Gatewood, writing in the Journal of Southern History, found that all contributions to the book "are well written, thoroughly researched, and presented within broad historical contexts." Gatewood concluded that "this important addition to the historical literature on the modern South reveals much about the road traveled by the region in the recent past and about a talented practitioner of the historian's craft who played a key role in efforts to bring about reforms in his native region."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, May 1, 2004, P. Harvey, review of Southern Journeys: Tourism, History, and Culture in the Modern South, p. 1726; May 1, 2006, F.J. Hay, review of Creating the Land of the Sky: Tourism and Society in Western North Carolina, p. 1664.
Journal of American Culture, March 1, 2006, Ray B. Browne, review of Creating the Land of the Sky, p. 67.
Journal of American History, September 1, 2005, James Kessenides, review of Southern Journeys, p. 682; September 1, 2006, Thomas Weiss, review of Creating the Land of the Sky, p. 619.
Journal of Social History, fall, 2007, Karl E. Campbell, review of Creating the Land of the Sky, p. 222.
Journal of Southern History, November 1, 2006, Allen W. Batteau, review of Creating the Land of the Sky, p. 934; February 1, 2008, Willard B. Gatewood, review of History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism, and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South, p. 215; May 1, 2008, John A. Jakle, review of Southern Journeys, p. 495.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://h-net.org/ (December, 2006), Cynthia J. Miller, review of Creating the Land of the Sky.
Western Carolina University Web site,http://www.wcu.edu/ (August 2, 2008), author profile.