Why are you dressed up today? I asked my daughter as she stood near the front door, wondering whether she was planning to go out somewhere during this time of COVID-19. It’s Culture Day, she replied, speaking of the school she attends online.
Later in the day, I expressed surprise to my wife that our daughter was wearing a Filipino dress. She thinks it looks cottagecore, she replied. I had no idea what that was. It’s an aesthetic, you need to see pictures. Look it up. So I did.
Foxfire ≠ Firefox
Cottagecore is like the Foxfire movement back in the Seventies, I offered, referring to the series of books devoted to self-sufficiency, a rejection of over-reliance on technology. Foxfire is tangled in my childhood comprehension with hippie and folk culture, as well as with popular culture through TV shows like Little House on the Prairie and The Waltons. Wikipedia characterizes cottagecore as a back-to-the-land movement.
The Little House books depict Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life from 1870 to 1894; the first book was published in 1932; the television adaptation premiered in 1974. The Waltons television series depicts life in rural Virginia starting in 1933; the series first aired in 1971. Cottagecore, with its emphasis on traditional skills, became popular here in 2020 during quarantine, according to Google Trends:
Before these works of literary, broadcast, or social media, there were the Transcendentalists, with their emphasis on the goodness of nature. The Transcendentalist Club held its first meeting in 1836.
It seems the American back-to-land movement revives in popularity about every generation and a half, with a period of forty to fifty years. Everything old is new again.