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Taking the Town: Collegiate and Community Culture in the Bluegrass, 1880-1917

by Kolan Thomas Morelock

Availablecloth$60.00x 978-0-8131-2504-6
Thomas D. Clark Studies in Education, Public Policy, and Social Change
434 pages  Pubdate: 08/22/2008  6 x 9 x 1.125  0

Taking the Town: Collegiate and Community Culture in the Bluegrass, 1880–1917 explores culture and intellectual life in Lexington, Kentucky, at the turn of the twentieth century. Drawing from local newspapers and from the work of historians and other writers, Kolan Thomas Morelock reveals Lexington to be a city of contradictions: known as a cultural “Athens of the West,” it also struggled with the poverty, ignorance, and bigotry characteristic of southern communities after the Civil War. Taking the Town examines the contributions to local culture made by the literary and dramatic clubs prevalent on the city’s college campuses. It is a vital account of turn-of-the-century southern intellectual life thriving within an environment of considerable turmoil, violence, and change.

Kolan Thomas Morelock is director of programs at the Men's Hope Center in Lexington, Kentucky. He received a Ph.D. in Studies in Higher Education from the University of Kentucky. He served as an instructor at the University of Kentucky and has over 30 years of experience as a social worker.

“This is an excellent historical research, bringing fresh and unexpected discoveries to an under-studied and under-appreciated era and place. Morelock is effective in persuading one to get on board this unexpected magical mystery tour of an often overlooked Southern city.”—John R. Thelin, author of A History of American Higher Education

“This study not only informs us about a particular time and place but also reminds the reader of a university’s relevance in a community prior to the onslaught of big time college athletics, 24/7 broadcast media, and the constant effort to link development with the university’s mission.”—Terry L. Birdwhistell, co-general editor of Kentucky Remembered: An Oral History Series

"Taking the Town focuses on the interplay between town and gown to paint a fascinating picture of the development of southern cultural life from the Gilded Age to Progressive Era. Morelock reveals how the academic extracurriculum of debating societies and drama clubs shaped urban life. Thanks to Morelock, readers will see in richer terms the meaning of the 'and' in the phrase town and gown. This thorough, well-written history will draw readers with a variety of interests, including urban history, the history of higher education, and Kentucky history."--Louise L. Stevenson, author of The Victorian Homefront: American Thought and Culture, 1860-1880

"Hats off to Kolan Thomas Morelock! Taking the Town gives historians a gift in the shape of a remarkably detailed analysis of the relationships between a university and its larger community, especially between student life and public life. I can't think of any comparable study of these topics."--Joseph F. Kett, author of The Pursuit of Knowledge Under Difficulties: From Self-Improvement to Adult Education in America, 1750-1990

"[Morelock] . . . has written an outstanding intellectual-cultural history of central Kentucky. Morelock’s writing is sprightly and fun to read." --Bill Ellis, Kentucky Monthly

"Morelock . . . gives readers an in-depth look at the social and cultural organizations that have nearly faded from history, illustrating the close ties between the town once known as the “Athens of the West” and its institutions of higher education."

"Based on Kolan Thomas Morelock’s meticulous research in a rich array of primary sources, Taking the Town is the story of the rise and decline of campus literary societies and their replacement by dramatic clubs in post-Civil War Lexington, Kentucky." --David E. Alsobrook, Journal of American History

"Dr. Morelock has done his homework in telling of this transformation. This is a well-researched work, with excellent use of newspapers and college records. . . . This is an informative and instructional look at an era and a place in change, and the process of that transformation." --James C. Klotter, Teachers College Record

"Morelock demonstrates that Lexington’s public culture fused regional New South qualities with trends affecting most smaller American cities." --The Journal of Southern History