and dependency much like their Southern counterparts, beholdenrnto implement dealers and mortgage companies, hostagernto railroad monopolies. The grassroots uprising known as thernPopulist revolt pitted (in their minds) the debtor West andrnSouth against the moneychangers of the creditor East. From arnlarger perspective. Populism represented the last historical occasionrnin which agrarian republican values animated a significantrnportion of the Southern and Western electorate, compellingrnthem to challenge the power of national corporations and financerncapitalism on behalf of greater local independence andrncommunal cooperation.rnThe passing of the frontier in the 1890’s announced therneclipse of rural America generally. By 1920, fully one-half ofrnthe nation’s citizens would live in urban areas. The waning ofrnfrontier virtues and rural lifestyles was witnessed with particularrnacuteness in the Midwest, which underwent its own cultural renaissancernin these decades. Edward Eggleston, Hamlin Garland,rnMark Twain, Willa Gather, Sherwood Anderson, EdgarrnLee Masters, and Sinclair Lewis were some of the luminariesrnchronicling the post-frontier, post-rural transition. FrederickrnJackson Turner should also be counted among them. Hisrn1920’s works on the “section” perhaps more than any othersrnsynthesized a vision of the pluralism inherent in America’s diversernregional landscape—at the very time when the remnantsrnof that diversity seemed most seriously in danger of dissolution.rnFor by the 1920’s and 1930’s, artists and intellectuals acrossrnthe United States had ample reason to appreciate with Turnerrnthe exceptionalistic pluralism of regional America. Furtherrntechnological and economic innovation had fully unleashedrnwhat was perceived by this generation to be one of the most insidiousrnforces for “megalopolitan” homogenization and standardization:rnmass culture. Radio, the automobile, the phonograph,rnchain stores, and motion pictures were spreading arnbleaklv anonymous mass cultural “world without a country” (asrnregional planner Benton MacKaye called it) over the diversernlandscape of provincial America, threatening to obliterate it.rnGonseious like Turner of the long-standing regional tradition ofrnwhich thev were the inheritors, interwar regionalists werernspurred by the profound crisis of the Great Depression to offerrna vision of a decentralized, symbiotic “regional civilization” asrnan ideological alternative to a possible future of coercive socialismrnor the hegemony of corporate megalopolitanism. As AndrewrnLytic advised in the 1930 regionalist manifesto I’ll TakernMy Stand, “Throw out the radio and take down the fiddle fromrnthe wall.” Only through the creation of the regional civilizationrncould America return to and sustain its fading exceptionalism.rnAndrew Lytic, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, and the SouthernrnAgrarians were the most famous members of the interwarrnregionalist revolt, but they were joined by Lewis Mumford’srnNew York-New England circle of regional planners; by Southwesternersrnsuch as Walter Prescott Webb, J. Frank Dobie, B. A.rnBotkin, Mary Austin, and Henry Nash Smith; by Midwesternrnwriters and artists like Mari Sandoz, Thomas Hart Benton, andrnJohn G. Neihardt; and by Western radicals such as GareyrnMcWilliams and John Steinbeck. In the past and present ofrntheir respective regions, interwar regionalists looked for inspirationrnto the folkways and values of Native American tribes, thernSouthern yeomanry, the New England village, the hillfolk ofrnthe Ozarks and Appalachia, the homesteaders of the Plains,rnSouthwestern cowboys and vaqueros. Southern black countryrnfolk, and still other remnants of an older, rural America that wasrnfast disappearing. They hoped at the very least to preservernthese vestiges of the country’s folkish provincial past in fiction,rnhistories, sociologies, paintings, and photographs. But their ultimaternproject was to reconstruct modern American culturernand society in accordance with folk-regional values, a Utopianrnproject indeed: big city sprawl was to be replaced with smallscalern”garden cities,” and land monopolies were to be redistributedrnin order to restore a society of independent familyrnfarms.rnThe very radicalncss and grandiosity of the interwar regionalists’rnvision was a hallmark of its unreality, of how far away fromrnits folk-agrarian past the United States had “progressed” by thernmid-20th century. Yet even into the post-Worid War II era, regionalrnidentities and divisions persisted in the face of the powerfulrnhomogenizing forces of television, the welfare state, corporaternconglomerates, and economic globalization. The Southrnin the I950’s and I960’s resisted the federal impositions of therncivil rights movement. The West in the I970’s raised the bannerrnof the Sagebrush Rebellion against federal control of publicrnlands. Although both white Southerners and Western developersrnsaw themselves as victims of Northeastern liberals in the nationalrngovernment, a historic shift in the regional distribution ofrnpower was ironically already under way. With the postwar rise ofrnthe Sunbelt, the former provinces and “colonies” of the Southrnand West underwent urban-industrial takeoff, experiencing arnspectacular increase in population and political influence,rnwhile the Rustbelt of the Northeast fell into demographic, economic,rnand political decline. New York City remained the culturalrncenter it had long boasted itself to be, but in sports, broadcasting,rnfashion, publishing, and other areas of culturalrnproduction, it now had many rivals scattered across the country,rnmost of them Sunbelt cities—Miami, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles.rnBy the 1970’s and 1980’s, Washington, D.C., also confrontedrna challenge to its power as a national capital, the objectrnof ire for a conservative, antigovernment revolt launched fromrnthe South and the West. The United States remained in manyrnways a contentious “union of potential nations.”rnThe centuries-old regionalist tradition, however, did not envisionrna good society of competing metropolises. Nevertheless,rnwe can find traces of the legacy of Grevecoeur, Thoreau,rnTurner, and Mumford in the postwar period as well. Environmentalistsrnare to some extent their present-day heirs, with theirrnconcern for living symbiotically and preserving the integrity ofrnthe natural landscape. But the near-exclusive focus of environmentalistsrnon wilderness landscapes has neglected what earlierrnregionalists prized, the cultivated agrarian “working landscapes”rnthat still exist in some corners of rural America, andrnthat regional planners and rural advocates have in recent yearsrnbegun to deem worthy of preservation. Ironically, not onlyrnactivism and regulation but commerce has also come to thernrescue of regional rootedness and diversity. With public andrnprivate funds, many local communities have restored historic,rnhumanly scaled downtowns and neighborhoods for residential,rncommercial, and recreational use. As tourism has grown in importancernwithin the postindustrial service economy, staterntourist bureaus have tapped into regional myth and history tornpackage their destinations as unique (Southern or Western orrnNew England) Americana. The uniqueness of place sells, theyrnhave discovered. These various prcscri-ation efforts maintain,rnhowever tenuously, our connection to t ic nation’s .eh regionalrnpast amid the mass cultural cacoph . i^roduced by Hollywoodrnand Madison Avenue.rnAUGUST 199S/17rnrnrn