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K-State Today

Division of Communications and Marketing
Kansas State University
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May 4, 2023

Valerie Padilla Carroll publishes acclaimed book

Submitted by Yolanda Broyles-Gonzalez

Valerie Padilla Carroll, professor in the social transformation studies department, has published a groundbreaking volume on back-to-the-land ideologies manifest in popular culture.

Critics agree that Padilla Carroll's book, "Who Gets to Go Back-to-the-Land? Gender and Race in U.S. Self-Sufficiency Popular Culture," published by the University of Nebraska Press, has broken new ground.

Clark A. Pomerleau writes, "Padilla Carroll makes the past directly relevant to today's context and global issues. Unlike previous scholars, she includes people who have been excluded from the narratives, especially Americans of color but also queer Americans, who have created resistant narratives. Padilla Carroll presents a seamless exposition with well-chosen sources for analysis."

Kristin J. Jacobson writes, "Padilla Carroll recovers key historical texts and authors from the back-to-the-land movement and shapes the current, contemporary canon by looking at the established print and new publication outlets. Rather than emphasize the emergence of a critical mass within popular culture, the author turns to the margins to recover the nondominant voices of the movement. Padilla Carroll offers sharp, compelling close reading analysis, deftly unpacking the quotations used as examples."

One of the book's most captivating features has to do with how Padilla Carroll integrates highly personal narratives, including her own family stories and photographs, as part of her writing about the land. She prefaces each chapter with a gripping personal anecdote that enriches the ensuing analysis. In a blog, Padilla Carroll comments on her new book publication: "My research explores the promise and problems of those so often left out of the back-to-the-land. BIPOC, women, and LGBTQ+ folks have been mostly left out of the back-to-the-land movements, at least in the popular culture products that promote the self-sufficient life. Yet those who have been left out have always sought this promise by writing their own narratives. My book explores these stories in U.S. popular culture ... "

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