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Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American (C. Henry Smith Series, V. 4) [Paperback]

By Julia Kasdorf (Author)
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Item Number 102543  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   280
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.08" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.65"
Weight:   1 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2003
Publisher   Pandora Press U. S.
ISBN  1931038066  
EAN  9781931038065  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This book follows the life and times of Joseph W. Yoder (1872-1956), author of Rosanna of the Amish and a musician. Yoder came of age during an era of great possibility in America. His journey--from an isolated, Pennsylvania religious subculture to the world and back--is a heroic quest, fraught with conflicts, misunderstandings, and reversals of intention.

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More About Julia Kasdorf

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Julia Spicher Kasdorf is associate professor of English and women s studies at Pennsylvania State University. She is the author of two other poetry collections: Eve s Striptease and Poetry in America. Her poems have appeared in the New Yorker, Paris Review, and Poetry, as well as numerous anthologies, including the 2003 Pushcart collection. The recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Kasdorf is also the author of The Body and the Book: Writing from a Mennonite Life and Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American."

Julia Kasdorf currently resides in Camp Hill, in the state of Pennsylvania. Julia Kasdorf was born in 1962.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Champion and Critic of the Amish, Their Scribe and Their Prophet  Sep 28, 2009
This well-crafted biography is a significant contribution to the study of Amish Mennonite history and culture, yet it is more than that. Prize-winning poet Julia Kasdorf is so successful in presenting Joseph W. Yoder (1872-1956) as a real person in a credible narrative that I found Fixing Tradition hard to put down.

Kasdorf not only gives us Yoder as a real person, but makes a convincing case for why he merits the substantial study she has given him. Over many years he devoted considerable energy to the advancement of both higher education and popular singing among the Mennonites. Sometimes described as "the first successful Mennonite writer," he combated mainstream American misunderstanding of the Amish through his Rosanna of the Amish, which remains in print today. A controversial figure throughout much of his life, Yoder was a champion and a critic of the Amish, their scribe and their prophet. He was progressive, intriguing, enigmatic, and stubborn.

Kasdorf's portrayal of Yoder as a figure working to bridge Amish Mennonite society and mainstream American culture stimulates general questions about how high-commitment religious groups relate (and do not relate) to the dominant society around them. It also raises questions about the use and abuse of religious authority and the ways religious traditions speak to both their own adherents and outsiders.

Yoder's passionate opposition to the "prayer veil" worn by Mennonite women is an episode in early feminism, though the public voices in the controversy were those of men. It is also a vivid case study of how a particular practice may be connected to explosive questions of a religious tradition's self-understanding in an alien world.

Fixing Tradition opens windows on several notable social phenomena of a century ago, among them the pedagogy of singing in small communities, the widespread culture of bachelors, and "muscular Christianity" which under other names remains a vital factor in American religion today. Yoder's interests led him to stay connected with a wide variety of people and communities.

In this book's lovely epilogue, "Field Work and Folk Talk," Kasdorf recounts her research in the Big Valley region of Pennsylvania, an area that formed both her and Yoder. By approaching the people there with respect for their traditional emphasis on resemblance and repetition as ways of knowledge, she was able to enrich her understanding of someone who challenged tradition, who struggled to be both Amish and an American progressive.

Yoder's contemporary William Faulkner famously observed that "The past is never dead. It's not even past." Julia Kasdorf graciously suggests to the readers of Fixing Tradition that this is true for Joseph Yoder's people--and for all of us.

Write your own review about Fixing Tradition: Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American (C. Henry Smith Series, V. 4)

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