Joseph C. Russo

Jan 21, 2024

Hard Luck and Heavy Rain

The Ecology of Stories in Southeast Texas

Duke University Press 2022

In Hard Luck and Heavy Rain: The Ecology of Stories in Southeast Texas (Duke UP, 2023), Joseph C. Russo takes readers into the everyday lives of the rural residents of Southeast Texas. He encounters the region as a kind of world enveloped in on itself, existing under a pall of poverty, illness, and oil refinery smoke. His informants’ stories cover a wide swath of experiences, from histories of LGBTQ+ life and the local petrochemical industries to religiosity among health food store employees and the suffering of cancer patients living in the Refinery Belt. Russo frames their hard-luck stories as forms of verbal art and poetic narrative that render the region a mythopoetic landscape that epitomizes the impasse of American late capitalism. He shows that in this severe world, questions of politics and history are not cut and dry, and its denizens are not simply backward victims of circumstances. Russo demonstrates that by challenging classist stereotypes of rural Americans as passive, ignorant, and uneducated, his interlocutors offer significant insight into the contemporary United States.

Joseph C. Russo is Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Wesleyan University.

Armanc Yildiz is a postdoctoral researcher at Humboldt University. He received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, with a secondary degree in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. He is also the founder of Academics Write, where he supports scholars in their writing projects as a writing coach and developmental editor.

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Armanc Yildiz

Armanc Yildiz is a postdoctoral researcher at Humboldt University. He received his Ph.D. in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, with a secondary degree in Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality. He is also the founder of Academics Write, where he supports scholars in their writing projects as a writing coach and developmental editor.

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