Wednesday, December 06, 2023

Pg. 99: Jennifer Eastman Attebery's "As Legend Has It"

Featured at the Page 99 Test: As Legend Has It: History, Heritage, and the Construction of Swedish American Identity by Jennifer Eastman Attebery.

About the book, from the publisher:
A study of identity construction through historical legend

Spanning more than 100 years of Swedish American local history in the Midwest and the West, Jennifer Eastman Attebery’s thorough examination of nearly 300 historical legends explores how Swedish Americans employ these narratives in creating, debating, and maintaining group identity. She demonstrates that historical legends can help us better understand how immigrant groups in general, and Swedish Americans in particular, construct and perpetuate a sense of ethnicity as broader notions of nationality, race, and heritage shift over time.

The legends Swedish Americans tell about their past are both similar to and distinct from those of others who migrated westward; they participated in settler colonialism while maintaining a sense of their specific, Swedish ethnicity. Unlike racial minority groups, Swedish Americans could claim membership in a majority white community without abandoning their cultural heritage. Their legends and local histories reflect that positioning. Attebery reveals how Swedish American legends are embedded within local history writing, how ostension and rhetoric operate in historical legends, and how vernacular local history writing works in tandem with historical legends to create a common message about a communal past. This impeccably researched study points to ways in which legends about the past possess qualities unique to their subgenre yet can also operate similarly to contemporary legends in their social impact.
Learn more about As Legend Has It at the University of Wisconsin Press website.

The Page 99 Test: As Legend Has It.

--Marshal Zeringue