Steven Stoll is Professor of History at Fordham University, where he teaches North American environmental history. He is interested in the relationship between economy and ecology, His work is related to geography, social ecology, political theory, and often concerns agrarian societies in North America, which offer a vantage point on the intersection of ideas and practices, economies and landscapes. Stoll was born in Long Beach, California, and grew up on the beaches of Orange County and in the industrial landscape of the Los Angeles Harbor, where his father owned a business. He is the author of Larding the Lean Earth: Soil and Society in Nineteenth-Century America (2002) and Ramp Hollow: The Ordeal of Appalachia (2017), which considers the transformation of the region and its settler culture from subsistence autonomy to industrial extraction and dependence on wages.
What is Appalachia? Geographers have difficulty identifying it geologically or culturally. The way to understand it is historically. The central event in the making of Appalachia is the invasion of capital and industry that came in waves after the American Revolution and especially following the Civil War. This lecture explains these events, toward an understanding of how what we call development has often been the cause of chronic under-development.