The common reading Hillbilly Elegy is timely and controversial and there are many different ideas in the book that will generate discussion in virtually any class. For a teacher’s guide on the book Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance and how to use it in class see:
For overviews/reviews/commentary on the book:
- America's forgotten working class - TED Talk
- Hillbilly Elegy - Official website of JD Vance
- Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Themes
- 'Hillbilly Elegy' Author On The White Working Class And America's Greatness - NPR
- Compassion, and Criticism, for the White Working Class - A conversation with Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance.
- How Donald Trump seduced America’s white working class - JD Vance
The following are substantive critiques of the themes in the book and will provide students with the substance to counter some of Vance’s themes.
- The Despair of Poor White Americans - The Atlantic
- For the good of the poor and common people: What Hillbilly Elegy gets wrong about Appalachia and the working class
- hillbilly elegy - elizabeth catte
- The Lives of Poor White People - The New Yorker
- J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America - New Republic
- Hillbilly sellout: The politics of J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” - Salon.com
Professor Cliff Staten: I assign students to read the text and they have to write a review of the book. The review focuses on the themes of the author. Students must not only identify 3 themes in the book but cite at least 3 passages in the book which illustrate/explain each theme that they find in the book. I require them to read critiques of the book, especially those critiques that are in disagreement with the author. We have two class sessions on the book. One in which students are put in groups and they share the themes they identified with the students in their group. Toward the end of the session, each group must report to the rest of the class the major points of its discussion. I also spend one class session on the critiques of the book, which is a discussion format that I typically lead. Another way to approach this and to make sure they read the book is to take 15 minutes of class time to periodically discuss each chapter in the book and require students to write brief summary of the chapter so as to help them discuss it in class. Students are required to go to at least one Common Experience event in which there is a focus on the book.