Questions of class and gender in Appalachia have, in the wake of the 2016 presidential election and the runaway success of Hillbilly Elegy, moved to the forefront of national conversations about politics and culture. From Todd Snyder, a first generation college student turned college professor, comes a passionate commentary on these themes in a family memoir set in West Virginia coal country.
12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym is the story of the author’s father, Mike “Lo” Snyder, a fifth generation West Virginia coal miner who opened a series of makeshift boxing gyms with the goal of providing local at-risk youth with the opportunities that eluded his adolescence. Taking these hardscrabble stories as his starting point, Snyder interweaves a history of the region, offering a smart analysis of the costs—both financial and cultural—of an economy built around extractive industries.
Part love letter to Appalachia, part rigorous social critique, readers may find 12 Rounds in Lo’s Gym—and its narrative of individual and community strength in the face of globalism’s headwinds—a welcome corrective to popular narratives that blame those in the region for their troubles.
The release of U.S. census data in 1910 sparked rhetoric declaring the nation had a literacy crisis and proclaiming illiterate citizens a threat to democratic life. While newspaper editors, industrialists, and officials in the federal government frequently placed the blame on newly arrived immigrants, a smaller but no less vocal group of rural educators and clubwomen highlighted the significant number of native-born illiterate adults in the Appalachian region. Author Samantha NeCamp looks at the educational response to these two distinct literacy narratives—the founding of the Moonlight Schools in eastern Kentucky, focused on native-born nonliterate adults, and the establishment of the Americanization movement, dedicated to the education of recent immigrants.
Drawing on personal correspondence, conference proceedings, textbooks, and speeches, NeCamp demonstrates how the Moonlight Schools and the Americanization movement competed for public attention, the interest of educators, and private and governmental funding, fueling a vibrant public debate about the definition of literacy. The very different pedagogical practices of the two movements—and how these practices were represented to the public—helped shape literacy education in the United States. Reading the Moonlight Schools and the Americanization movement in relation to one another, Adult Literacy and American Identity expands the history and theory of literacy and literacy education in the United States. This book will be of interest to scholars in literacy, Appalachian studies, and rhetoric and composition.
Folktales from the African American Appalachian tradition. Told by Lyn Ford, one of America’s busiest touring storytellers. The power of Lyn's storytelling comes straight out of her family heritage, which is the content of this, her first book. Here she tells how she learned stories from her father and grandfather—and she includes many of the stories they told her.
Throughout the Upland South, the banjo has become an emblem of white mountain folk, who are generally credited with creating the short-thumb-string banjo, developing its downstroking playing styles and repertory, and spreading its influence to the national consciousness. In this groundbreaking study, however, Cecelia Conway demonstrates that these European Americans borrowed the banjo from African Americans and adapted it to their own musical culture. Like many aspects of the African-American tradition, the influence of black banjo music has been largely unrecorded and nearly forgotten—until now.
Drawing in part on interviews with elderly African-American banjo players from the Piedmont—among the last American representatives of an African banjo-playing tradition that spans several centuries—Conway reaches beyond the written records to reveal the similarity of pre-blues black banjo lyric patterns, improvisational playing styles, and the accompanying singing and dance movements to traditional West African music performances. The author then shows how Africans had, by the mid-eighteenth century, transformed the lyrical music of the gourd banjo as they dealt with the experience of slavery in America.
By the mid-nineteenth century, white southern musicians were learning the banjo playing styles of their African-American mentors and had soon created or popularized a five-string, wooden-rim banjo. Some of these white banjo players remained in the mountain hollows, but others dispersed banjo music to distant musicians and the American public through popular minstrel shows.
By the turn of the century, traditional black and white musicians still shared banjo playing, and Conway shows that this exchange gave rise to a distinct and complex new genre—the banjo song. Soon, however, black banjo players put down their banjos, set their songs with increasingly assertive commentary to the guitar, and left the banjo and its story to white musicians. But the banjo still echoed at the crossroads between the West African griots, the traveling country guitar bluesmen, the banjo players of the old-time southern string bands, and eventually the bluegrass bands.
The Author: Cecelia Conway is associate professor of English at Appalachian State University. She is a folklorist who teaches twentieth-century literature, including cultural perspectives, southern literature, and film.
What happens when fossil fuels run out? How do communities and cultures survive?
Central Appalachia and south Wales were built to extract coal, and faced with coal’s decline, both regions have experienced economic depression, labor unrest, and out-migration. After Coal focuses on coalfield residents who chose not to leave, but instead remained in their communities and worked to build a diverse and sustainable economy. It tells the story of four decades of exchange between two mining communities on opposite sides of the Atlantic, and profiles individuals and organizations that are undertaking the critical work of regeneration.
The stories in this book are told through interviews and photographs collected during the making of After Coal, a documentary film produced by the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University and directed by Tom Hansell. Considering resonances between Appalachia and Wales in the realms of labor, environment, and movements for social justice, the book approaches the transition from coal as an opportunity for marginalized people around the world to work toward safer and more egalitarian futures.
The blossoming of Appalachian studies began some thirty years ago. Thousands of young people from the hills have since been made aware of their region’s rich literary tradition through high school and college courses. An entire generation has discovered that their own landscapes, families, and communities had been truthfully portrayed by writers whose background was similar to their own.
An American Vein: Critical Readings in Appalachian Literature is an anthology of literary criticism of Appalachian novelists, poets, and playwrights. The book reprises critical writing of influential authors such as Joyce Carol Oates, Cratis Williams, and Jim Wayne Miller. It introduces new writing by Rodger Cunningham, Elizabeth Engelhardt, and others.
Many writers from the mountains have found success and acclaim outside the region, but the region itself as a thriving center of literary creativity has not been widely appreciated. The editors of An American Vein have remedied this, producing the first general collection of Appalachian literary criticism. This book is a resource for those who teach and read Appalachian literature. What’s more, it holds the promise of introducing new readers, nationally and internationally, to Appalachian literature and its relevance to our times.
Appalachia in the Classroom contributes to the twenty-first century dialogue about Appalachia by offering topics and teaching strategies that represent the diversity found within the region. Appalachia is a distinctive region with various cultural characteristics that can’t be essentialized or summed up by a single text.
Appalachia in the Classroom offers chapters on teaching Appalachian poetry and fiction as well as discussions of nonfiction, films, and folklore. Educators will find teaching strategies that they can readily implement in their own classrooms; they’ll also be inspired to employ creative ways of teaching marginalized voices and to bring those voices to the fore. In the growing national movement toward place-based education, Appalachia in the Classroom offers a critical resource and model for engaging place in various disciplines and at several different levels in a thoughtful and inspiring way.
Contributors: Emily Satterwhite, Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, John C. Inscoe, Erica Abrams Locklear, Jeff Mann, Linda Tate, Tina L. Hanlon, Patricia M. Gantt, Ricky L. Cox, Felicia Mitchell, R. Parks Lanier, Jr., Theresa L. Burriss, Grace Toney Edwards, and Robert M. West.
Appalachia North: A Memoir
Matthew Ferrence West Virginia University Press, 2018 Library of Congress F106.F47 2019 | Dewey Decimal 917.404
Appalachia North is the first book-length treatment of the cultural position of northern Appalachia—roughly the portion of the official Appalachian Regional Commission zone that lies above the Mason-Dixon line. For Matthew Ferrence this region fits into a tight space of not-quite: not quite “regular” America and yet not quite Appalachia.
Ferrence’s sense of geographic ambiguity is compounded when he learns that his birthplace in western Pennsylvania is technically not a mountain but, instead, a dissected plateau shaped by the slow, deep cuts of erosion. That discovery is followed by the diagnosis of a brain tumor, setting Ferrence on a journey that is part memoir, part exploration of geology and place. Appalachia North is an investigation of how the labels of Appalachia have been drawn and written, and also a reckoning with how a body always in recovery can, like a region viewed always as a site of extraction, find new territories of growth.
In Appalachian Dance, Susan Eike Spalding employs twenty-five years' worth of rich interviews with black and white Virginians, Tennesseeans, and Kentuckians to explore the evolution and social uses of dance practices in each region.
Spalding analyzes how issues as disparate as industrialization around coal, race relations, and the 1970s folk revival profoundly influenced freestyle clogging and other dance forms. She reveals how African Americans and Native Americans, as well as European immigrants drawn to the timber mills and coal fields, added to local dance vocabularies. By placing each community in its sociopolitical and economic context, Spalding explores how the formal and stylistic nuances found in Appalachian dance reflect the beliefs, shared understandings, and experiences of the community at large.
John Anthony Caruso’s The Appalachian Frontier, first published in 1959, captures the drama and sweep of a nation at the beginning of its westward expansion. Bringing to life the region’s history from its earliest seventeenth-century scouting parties to the admission of Tennessee to the Union in 1796, Caruso describes the exchange of ideas, values, and cultural traits that marked Appalachia as a unique frontier.
Looking at the rich and mountainous land between the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers, The Appalachian Frontier follows the story of the Long Hunters in Kentucky; the struggles of the Regulators in North Carolina; the founding of the Watauga, Transylvania, Franklin, and Cumberland settlements; the siege of Boonesboro; and the patterns and challenges of frontier life. While narrating the gripping stories of such figures as Daniel Boone, George Rogers Clark, and Chief Logan, Caruso combines social, political, and economic history into a comprehensive overview of the early mountain South.
In his new introduction, John C. Inscoe examines how this work exemplified the so-called consensus school of history that arose in the United States during the cold war. Unabashedly celebratory in his analysis of American nation building, Caruso shows how the development of Appalachia fit into the grander scheme of the evolution of the country. While there is much in The Appalachian Frontier that contemporary historians would regard as one-sided and romanticized, Inscoe points out that “those of us immersed so deeply in the study of the region and its people sometimes tend to forget that the white settlement of the mountain south in the eighteenth century was not merely the chronological foundation of the Appalachian experience. As Caruso so vividly demonstrates, it is also represented a vital—even defining—stage in the American progression across the continent.”
The Author: John Anthony Caruso was a professor of history at West Virginia University. He died in 1997.
John C. Inscoe is professor of history at the University of Georgia. He is editor of Appalachians and Race: The Mountain South from Slavery to Segregation and author of Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina.
Featuring the work of twenty-five fiction writers and poets, this anthology is a captivating introduction to the finest of contemporary Appalachian literature. Here are short stories and poems by some of the region’s most dynamic and best-loved authors: Barbara Kingsolver, Ron Rash, Nikki Giovanni, Robert Morgan, Lisa Alther, and Lee Smith among others. In addition to compelling selections from each writer’s work, the book includes illuminating biographical sketches and bibliographies for each author.
These works encompass a variety of themes that, collectively, capture the essence of Appalachia: love of the land, family ties, and the struggle to blend progress with heritage. Readers will enjoy this book not just for the innate value of good literature but also for the insights it provides into this fascinating area. This book of fiction is an enlightening companion to non-fiction overviews of the region, including the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and A Handbook to Appalachia: An Introduction to the Region, both published by the University of Tennessee Press in 2006. In fact the five sections of this book are the same as those of the Encyclopedia.
Educators and students will find this book especially appropriate for courses in creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature. Editor George Brosi’s foreword presents an historical overview of Appalachian Literature, while Kate Egerton and Morgan Cottrell’s afterword offers a helpful guide for studying Appalachian literature in a classroom setting.
George Brosi is the editor of Appalachian Heritage, a literary quarterly, and, along with his wife, Connie, runs a retail book business specializing in books from and about the Appalachian region. He has taught creative writing, Appalachian studies and Appalachian literature.
Kate Egerton is an associate professor of English at Berea College. She has taught Appalachian literature and published scholarship in that field as well as in modern drama.
Samantha Cole majored in Appalachian Studies and worked for Appalachian Heritage while a student at Berea College. Morgan Cottrell is a West Virginia native who took Kate Egerton's Appalachian literature class at Berea College.
"A monumental achievement. . . . Certainly the best thing written
on Appalachian Religion and one of the best works on the region itself.
Deborah McCauley has made a winning argument that Appalachian religion
is a true and authentic counter-stream to modern mainstream Protestant
religion." -- Loyal Jones, founding director of the Appalachian Center
at Berea College Appalachian Mountain Religion is much more than a narrowly focused
look at the religion of a region. Within this largest regional and widely
diverse religious tradition can be found the strings that tie it to all
of American religious history. The fierce drama between American Protestantism
and Appalachian mountain religion has been played out for nearly two hundred
years; the struggle between piety and reason, between the heart and the
head, has echoes reaching back even further--from Continental Pietism
and the Scots-Irish of western Scotland and Ulster to Colonial Baptist
revival culture and plain-folk camp-meeting religion.
Deborah Vansau McCauley places Appalachian mountain religion squarely
at the center of American religious history, depicting the interaction
and dramatic conflicts between it and the denominations that comprise
the Protestant "mainstream." She clarifies the tradition histories
and symbol systems of the area's principally oral religious culture, its
worship practices and beliefs, further illuminating the clash between
mountain religion and the "dominant religious culture" of the
United States. This clash has helped to shape the course of American religious
The explorations in Appalachian Mountain Religion range from Puritan
theology to liberation theology, from Calvinism to the Holiness-Pentecostal
movements. Within that wide realm and in the ongoing contention over religious
values, the many strains of American religious history can be heard.
With hundreds of thousands of copies sold, a Ron Howard movie in the works, and the rise of its author as a media personality, J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis has defined Appalachia for much of the nation. What about Hillbilly Elegy accounts for this explosion of interest during this period of political turmoil? Why have its ideas raised so much controversy? And how can debates about the book catalyze new, more inclusive political agendas for the region’s future?
Appalachian Reckoning is a retort, at turns rigorous, critical, angry, and hopeful, to the long shadow Hillbilly Elegy has cast over the region and its imagining. But it also moves beyond Hillbilly Elegy to allow Appalachians from varied backgrounds to tell their own diverse and complex stories through an imaginative blend of scholarship, prose, poetry, and photography. The essays and creative work collected in Appalachian Reckoning provide a deeply personal portrait of a place that is at once culturally rich and economically distressed, unique and typically American. Complicating simplistic visions that associate the region almost exclusively with death and decay, Appalachian Reckoning makes clear Appalachia’s intellectual vitality, spiritual richness, and progressive possibilities.
Marcia Bonta University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991 Library of Congress QH104.5.A6B66 1991 | Dewey Decimal 508.748
Marcia Bonta is a naturalist-writer who has lived on a 500-acre mountain-top farm in central Pennsylvania for twenty years. Appalachian Spring is her personal account of that glorious spectacle - the coming of the spring to the woods and fields of Appalachia.
A beautifully produced companion volume to the public television documentary The Appalachians fills the void in information about the region, offering a rich portrait of its history and its legacy in music, literature, and film. The text includes essays by some of Appalachia’s most respected scholars and journalists; excerpts from never-before-published diaries and journals; firsthand recollections from native Appalachians including Loretta Lynn, Ricky Skaggs, and Ralph Stanley; indigenous song lyrics and poetry; and oral histories from common folk whose roots run strong and deep. The book also includes more than one hundred illustrations, both archival and newly created. Here is a wondrous book celebrating a unique and valuable heritage.
Women’s studies unites with Appalachian studies in Beyond Hill and Hollow, the first book to focus exclusively on studies of Appalachia’s women. Featuring the work of historians, linguists, sociologists, performance artists, literary critics, theater scholars, and others, the collection portrays the diverse cultures of Appalachian women.
The chapters in Beyond Hill and Hollow examine the hidden lives of Appalachian prostitutes, urban Appalachian women in the 1800s, rural women in company towns, and an African American Appalachian poet from the 1900s. Contributors look at Appalachian opera houses, Jewish women in the coalfields, the writings of Wilma Dykeman and Sharyn McCrumb, and activists in out-migrant communities like Cincinnati. With an introduction by editor Elizabeth S. D. Engelhardt, Beyond Hill and Hollow firmly establishes the field of Appalachian Women’s Studies.
Appropriate both as a reference and as a classroom text, Beyond Hill and Hollow expands our understanding of Appalachian women’s lives. Readers, whether from the region or beyond, may recognize themselves or women they know in its pages.
Lyn Ford, an African-American storyteller honored by her peers nationally retells traditional stories and folkways from her cultural heritage. In addition, she provides readers with insights and historic perspective of these tales by including notes and references to extensive resources regarding the folktales she tells and the history that brought them to us.
Religion has long been a source of identity for many Southerners, and the Appalachian areas in particular have proven to be a virtual fortress protecting faith and culture. Yet, in a region popularly thought to be religiously homogeneous, congregations reflect a wide range of doctrinal differences over such issues as conversion, ministerial leadership, and the authority on which a church bases its core beliefs.
Profiling the prominent Christian traditions in southern Appalachia, this book brings together contributions by twenty scholars who have long studied the religious practices found in the region’s cities, small towns, and rural communities. These authors provide insights into not only the independent mountain churches that are strongly linked to local customs but also the mainline and other religious bodies that have a significant presence in Appalachia but are not strictly associated with it. The essays explore the nature of ministry within these various churches, show the impact of broader culture on religion in the region, and consider the question of whether previously isolated, tradition-based churches can retain their distinctiveness in a changing world.
One group of chapters focuses on elements of mountain religion as seen in the beliefs and practices of mountain Holiness folk, serpent handlers, and various Baptist traditions. Later chapters review the history and activities of other denominations, including Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, Wesleyan/Holiness, Church of God, and Roman Catholic. Also considered are the economic history of the region, popular religiosity, and the role of church-affiliated colleges. Taken together, these essays offer a richly nuanced understanding of Christianity in Appalachia.
The Editor: Bill J. Leonard is dean of the Divinity School at Wake Forest University. His other books include Out of One, Many: American Religion and American Pluralism and God's Last and Only Hope: The Fragmentation of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The Contributors: Monica Kelly Appleby, Donald N. Bowdle, Mary Lee Daugherty, Melvin E. Dieter, Howard Dorgan, Anthony Dunnavant, Gary Farley, Samuel S. Hill, Loyal Jones, Helen Lewis, Charles H. Lippy, Bill J. Leonard, Deborah Vansau McCauley, Lou F. McNeil, Marcia Clark Myers, Bennett Poage, Ira Read, James Sessions, Barbara Ellen Smith, H. Davis Yeuell.
In the mid-1970s, Nancy L. Abrams, a young photojournalist from the Midwest, plunges into life as a small-town reporter in West Virginia. She befriends the hippies on the commune one mountaintop over, rents a cabin in beautiful Salt Lick Valley, and falls in love with a local boy, wrestling to balance the demands of a job and a personal life. She learns how to survive in Appalachia—how to heat with coal and wood, how to chop kindling, plant a garden, and preserve produce.
The Climb from Salt Lick is the remarkable memoir of an outsider coming into adulthood. It is the story of a unique place and its people from the perspective of a woman who documents its burdens and its beauty, using words and pictures to tell the rich stories of those around her.
Drawing on powerful personal testimonies of the hazards of mountaintop removal in southern West Virginia, Combating Mountaintop Removal critically examines the fierce conflicts over this violent and increasingly prevalent form of strip mining. Bryan T. McNeil documents the changing relationships among the coal industry, communities, environment, and economy from the perspective of local grassroots activist organizations and their broader networks.
Focusing on Coal River Mountain Watch (CRMW), an organization composed of individuals who have personal ties to the coal industry in the region, the study reveals a turn away from once-strong traditional labor unions and the emergence of community-based activist organizations. By framing social and moral arguments in terms of the environment, these innovative hybrid movements take advantage of environmentalism's higher profile in contemporary politics. In investigating the local effects of globalization and global economics, McNeil tracks the profound reimagining of social and personal ideas such as identity, history, and landscape and considers their roles in organizing an agenda for progressive community activism.
Communities In Economic Crisis
edited by John Gaventa, Barbara Ellen Smith and Alex Willingham Temple University Press, 1990 Library of Congress HC107.A127C65 1990 | Dewey Decimal 330.974043
Hard times are no stranger to the people of Appalachia and the South. Earlier books have documented the low wages of the textile industry, boom-and-bust cycles of coal mining, and debt peonage of Southern agriculture that have established a heritage of poverty that endures. This book is a unique collection of essays by people who are actively involved in the efforts to challenge economic injustice in these regions and to empower the residents to build democratic alternatives.
In the series Labor and Social Change, edited by Paula Rayman and Carmen Sirianni.
When Deborah Gold and her husband signed up to foster parent in their rural mountain community, they did not foresee that it would lead to a roller-coaster fifteen years of involvement with a traumatized yet resilient birth family. They fell in love with Michael (a toddler when he came to them), yet they had to reckon with the knowledge that he could leave their lives at any time.
In Counting Down, Gold tells the story of forging a family within a confounding system. We meet social workers, a birth mother with the courage to give her children the childhood she never had herself, and a father parenting from prison. We also encounter members of a remarkable fellowship of Appalachian foster parents—gay, straight, right, left, evangelical, and atheist—united by love, loss, and quality hand-me-downs.
Gold’s memoir is one of the few books to deliver a foster parent’s perspective (and, through Michael’s own poetry and essays, that of a former foster child). In it, she shakes up common assumptions and offers a powerfully frank and hopeful look at an experience often portrayed as bleak.
Culture, Class, and Politics in Modern Appalachia takes stock of the field of Appalachian studies as it explores issues still at the center of its scholarship: culture, industrialization, the labor movement, and twentieth-century economic and political failure and their social impact. A new generation of scholars continues the work of Appalachian studies’ pioneers, exploring the diversity and complexity of the region and its people. Labor migrations from around the world transformed the region during its critical period of economic growth. Collective struggles over occupational health and safety, the environment, equal rights, and civil rights challenged longstanding stereotypes. Investigations of political and economic power and the role of social actors and social movements in Appalachian history add to the foundational work that demonstrates a dynamic and diverse region.
James Crissman explores cultural traits related to death and dying in Appalachian sections of Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, North Carolina, and West Virginia, showing how they have changed since the 1600s. Relying on archival materials, almost forty photographs, and interviews with more than 400 mountain dwellers, Crissman focuses on the importance of family and "neighborliness" in mountain society.
Written for both scholarly and general audiences, the book contains sections on the death watch, body preparation, selection or construction of a coffin or casket, digging the grave by hand, the wake, the funeral, and other topics. Crissman then demonstrates how technology and the encroachment of American society have turned these vital traditions into the disappearing practices of the past.
Every River on Earth: Writing from Appalachian Ohio includes some of the best regional poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction from forty contemporary writers, both established and up-and-coming. The wide range of material from authors such as David Baker, Don Bogen, Michelle Burke, Richard Hague, Donald Ray Pollock, and others, offers the reader a window into daily life in the region. The people, the landscape, the struggles, and the deepest undercurrents of what it means to be from and of a place are revealed in these original, deeply moving, and sometimes shocking pieces.
The book is divided into four sections: Family & Folks, The Land, The Grind, and Home & Away, each of which explores a different aspect of the place that these authors call home. The sections work together beautifully to capture what it means to live, to love, and to die in this particular slice of Appalachia. The writing is accessible and often emotionally raw; Every River on Earth invites all types of readers and conveys a profound appreciation of the region’s character.
The authors also offer personal statements about their writing, allowing the reader an intimate insight into their processes, aesthetics, and inspirations. What is it to be an Appalachian? What is it to be an Appalachian in Ohio? This book vividly paints that picture.
Every River on Earth
David Lee Garrison
I look out the window and see
through the neighbor’s window
to an Amish buggy
where three children are peeping back,
and in their eyes I see the darkness
of plowed earth hiding seed.
Wind pokes the land in winter,
trying to waken it,
and in the melting snow
I see rainbows and in them
every river on earth. I see all the way
to the ocean, where sand and stones
embrace each falling wave
and reach back to gather it in.
Never have so many missionaries been sent to save so many Christians as is the case in the Southern Uplands. The area has long been perceived by American Christians in contradictory ways: on the one hand, as an unchurched area with people who have little religion or an inadequate faith; on the other, as part of the Bible Belt, packed with small breakaway fundamentalist churches and wild-eyed believers.
In Faith and Meaning, one of Appalachian religion's most eloquent spokesmen reveals a people devoted to and thoughtful about their religion, and profoundly influenced by it. Loyal Jones's three decades of conversations and interviews, supplemented by documents such as sermons, testimonies, and articles of faith, articulate Southern Upland views on basic issues of the human condition—faith, God, the world, the Word, and the devil—as well as on community issues such as racial integration and women in the church. In their own voices these people describe their beliefs, their churches, and their lives, exposing a deep conviction tempered with humanity and humor.
Chaos. Frustration. Compassion. Desperation. Hope. These are the five words that author Wendy Welch says best summarize the state of foster care in the coalfields of Appalachia. Her assessment is based on interviews with more than sixty social workers, parents, and children who have gone through “the system.” The riveting stories in Fall or Fly tell what foster care is like, from the inside out.
In depictions of foster care and adoption, stories tend to cluster at the dark or light ends of the spectrum, rather than telling the day-to-day successes and failures of families working to create themselves. Who raises other people’s children? Why? What’s money got to do with it when the love on offer feels so real? And how does the particular setting of Appalachia—itself so frequently oversimplified or stereotyped—influence the way these questions play out?
In Fall or Fly, Welch invites people bound by a code of silence to open up and to share their experiences. Less inspiration than a call to caring awareness, this pioneering work of storytelling journalism explores how love, compassion, money, and fear intermingle in what can only be described as a marketplace for our nation’s greatest asset.
Sixteen original essays document the extent and variety of citizen resistance and struggle in the Appalachian region since 1960. The contributors-all organizers or activist intellectuals-describe how and why some of the dramatic Appalachian resistance efforts and strategies have arisen.
Contributors: Bill Allen, Mary K. Anglin, Fran Ansley, Alan Banks, Dwight Billings, Mary Beth Bingman, Sherry Cable, Guy and Candie Carawan, Richard A. Couto, Stephen William Foster, John M. Glen, Hal Hamilton, Bennett M. Judkins, Don Manning-Miller, Ellen Ryan, Jim Sessions, Joe Szakos, Karen Tice, Chris Weiss, and the editor.
Goshen Road: A Novel
Bonnie Proudfoot Ohio University Press, 2020 Library of Congress PS3616.R68G67 2020 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Goshen Road is an elegiac, unvarnished, and empathetic portrait of one working-class family over two decades in rural West Virginia, with sisters Dessie and Billie Price as its urgently beating heart. Bonnie Proudfoot captures them, their husbands, and their children as they balance on the divide between Appalachia old and new, struggling for survival and reconciling themselves with past hurts and future uncertainties as the economy and culture shift around them.
The story opens in 1967 with a logging accident and the teenaged Lux Cranfield’s headlong plunge into the courtship of Dessie—a leap he takes not only in the wake of his near-death experience but to exchange his bitter home life for a future with the Prices, a family that appears to have the stability and peace that his own lacks. Within the year Lux and Dessie marry. Meanwhile, Dessie’s rebellious younger sister, Billie, fights her way through adolescence with an eye toward an escape of her own, only to land with Lux’s friend Alan Ray Munn and settle into a life of hardship. Ultimately, the voices and passions of Dessie, Billie, Lux, Alan Ray, and the Cranfield children build on one another to create an unforgettable chorus about the promises and betrayals of love—and what it takes to preserve a family when everything else is uncertain.
At her death in 1986, Harriette Simpson Arnow left a modest collection of published work: ten short stories, five novels, two non-fiction books, a short autobiography, and nineteen essays and book reviews. Although the sum is small, her writing has been examined from regionalist, Marxist, feminist, and other critical perspectives.
The 1970s saw the first serious attempts to revive interest in Arnow. In 1971, Tillie Olsen identified her as a writer whose "books of great worth suffer the death of being unknown, or at best, a peculiar eclipsing." Joyse Carol Oates wrote in The New York Times Book Review that Arnow's The Dollmaker is "our most unpretentious American masterpiece."
In the 1990s, it is appropriate to take stock of her earlier work and to prompt reexamination of this powerful yet poorly understood writer. This collection of critical essays examines traditional as well as new interpretations of Arnow and her work. It also suggests future directions for Arnow scholarship and includes studies of all of Arnow's writing, fiction and non-fiction, published and unpublished.
Hawk'S Nest: A Novel
Hubert Skidmore University of Tennessee Press, 2004 Library of Congress PS3537.K38H39 2004 | Dewey Decimal 813.52
Thomas E. Douglass, series fiction editor
“Very real and tremendously moving. . . . Not only an obvious brief for the unfortunate but a well told and honest story.” —New York Times
“Hubert Skidmore, a native West Virginian, wrote as a witness from inside the belly of the beast. His gift is for pitch-perfect dialogue, a varied cast of characters, and the calling up of emotion, of anger, fear, dread, and love. To encounter this novel at last is a sort of resurrection, both for its persecuted author and the Depression poor whose lives it evokes.” —Denise Giardina, author of The Unquiet Earth and Storming Heaven
The building of a tunnel at Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, beginning in 1930 has been called the worst industrial disaster in American history: more died there than in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the Sunshine and Farmington mine disasters combined. And when native West Virginian Hubert Skidmore tried to tell the real story in his 1941 novel, Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation apparently convinced publisher Doubleday, Doran & Co. to pull the book from publication after only a few hundred copies had appeared.
Now the Appalachian Echoes series makes Hawk’s Nest available to a new generation of readers. This is the riveting tale of starving men and women making their way from all over the Depression-era United States to the hope and promise of jobs and a new life. What they find in West Virginia is “tunnelitis,” or silicosis, a disease which killed at least seven hundred workers—probably many more—a large number of them African American, virtually all of them poor. Skidmore’s roman à clef provides a narrative with emotional drive, interwoven with individual stories that capture the hopes and the desperation of the Depression: the Reips who come from the farm with their pots and pans and hard-working children, the immigrants Pete and Anna, kind waitress Lessie Lee, and “hobos” Jim Martin, “Long” Legg, and Owl Jones, the last of whom, as an African American, receives the worst treatment. This important story of conscience encompasses labor history, Appalachian studies, and literary finesse.
Hubert Skidmore (1909–1946) was the author of five other novels: I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (1936), Heaven Came So Near (1938), River Rising (1939), Hill Doctor (1950), and Hill Lawyer (1942). He died in a house fire at the age of thirty-seven.
HEARTS OF GOLD
a novel by J. McHenry Jones, edited by John Ernest and Eric Gardner West Virginia University Press, 2010 Library of Congress PS2151.J28H43 2010 | Dewey Decimal 813.54
J. McHenry Jones’s Hearts of Gold is a gripping tale of post-Civil War battles against racism and systemic injustice. Originally published in 1896, this novel reveals an African American community of individuals dedicated to education, journalism, fraternal organizations, and tireless work serving the needs of those abandoned by the political process of the white world. Jones challenges conventional wisdom by addressing a range of subjects—from interracial relationships to forced labor in coal mines—that virtually no other novelist of the time was willing to approach. With the addition of an introduction and appendix, this new edition reveals the difficult foundations upon which African Americans built a platform to address injustice; generate opportunities; and play a prominent role in American social, economic, and political life.
This collection is the first comprehensive, cohesive volume to unite Appalachian history with its culture. Richard A. Straw and H. Tyler Blethen's High Mountains Rising provides a clear, systematic, and engaging overview of the Appalachian timeline, its people, and the most significant aspects of life in the region.
The first half of the fourteen essays deal with historical issues including Native Americans, pioneer settlement, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, the Great Depression, migration, and finally, modernization. The remaining essays take a more cultural focus, addressing stereotypes, music, folklife, language, literature, and religion.
Bringing together many of the most prestigious scholars in Appalachian studies, this volume has been designed for general and classroom use, and includes suggestions for further reading.
In Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics, old-time musician and flatfoot dancer Philip Jamison journeys into the past and surveys the present to tell the story behind the square dances, step dances, reels, and other forms of dance practiced in southern Appalachia.
These distinctive folk dances, Jamison argues, are not the unaltered jigs and reels brought by early British settlers, but hybrids that developed over time by adopting and incorporating elements from other popular forms. He traces the forms from their European, African American, and Native American roots to the modern day. On the way he explores the powerful influence of black culture, showing how practices such as calling dances as well as specific kinds of steps combined with white European forms to create distinctly "American" dances.
From cakewalks to clogging, and from the Shoo-fly Swing to the Virginia Reel, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics reinterprets an essential aspect of Appalachian culture.
In this revised and expanded edition of Hollows, Peepers, and Highlanders, author George Constantz, a biologist and naturalist, writes about the beauty and nature of the Appalachian landscape. While the information is scientific in nature, Constantz's accessible descriptions of the adaptation of various organisms to their environment enable the reader to enjoy learning about the Appalachian ecosystem. The book is divided into three sections: "Stage and Theater," "The Players," and "Seasonal Act." Each section sets the scene and describes the events occurring in nature. "Stage and Theatre" is comprised of chapters that describe the origins of the Appalachia region. "The Players" is an interesting and in-depth look into the ecology of animals, such as the mating rituals of different species, and the evolutionary explanation for the adaptation of Appalachian wildlife. The last section, "Seasonal Act," makes note of the changes in Appalachian weather each season and its effect on the inhabitants.
This collection, the first of its kind, gathers original and previously published fiction and poetry from lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer authors from Appalachia. Like much Appalachian literature, these works are pervaded with an attachment to family and the mountain landscape, yet balancing queer and Appalachian identities is an undertaking fraught with conflict. This collection confronts the problematic and complex intersections of place, family, sexuality, gender, and religion with which LGBTQ Appalachians often grapple.
With works by established writers such as Dorothy Allison, Silas House, Ann Pancake, Fenton Johnson, and Nickole Brown and emerging writers such as Savannah Sipple, Rahul Mehta, Mesha Maren, and Jonathan Corcoran, this collection celebrates a literary canon made up of writers who give voice to what it means to be Appalachian and LGBTQ.
Located near Cumberland Gap in the rugged hills of East Tennessee, Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) was founded in 1897 to help disadvantaged Appalachian youth and reward the descendents of Union loyalists in the region. Its founder was former Union General Oliver Otis Howard, a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, who made it his mission to sustain an institution of higher learning in the mountain South that would honor the memory of the Civil War president.
In Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia, LMU Professor Earl J. Hess presents a highly readable and compelling history of the school. Yet the book is much more than a chronology of past events. The author uses the institution’s history to look at wider issues in Appalachian scholarship, including race and the modernization of educational methods in Appalachia. LMU offered a work-learn program to help students pay their way, imparting the value of self-help, and it was hit by a massive student strike that nearly wrecked the institution in 1930. LMU has played an important role in shaping what higher learning could be for young people in its region of southern Appalachia.
The volume examines the involvement of O. O. Howard and his unflagging efforts to establish and fund the school; the influence of early twentieth-century industrial capitalism—
Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller were benefactors—on Appalachia and LMU in particular; and the turn-of-the-century cult of Lincoln that made the university a major repository of Lincolniana.
Meticulously researched and richly illustrated, Lincoln Memorial University and the Shaping of Appalachia is a fresh look at the creation, contributions, and enduring legacies of LMU. Students, alumni, and friends of the university, as well as scholars of Appalachian culture and East Tennessee history, will find this book both enlightening and entertaining.
Earl J. Hess holds the Stewart W. McClelland Chair in History at Lincoln Memorial University. He is the author of more than a dozen books on Civil War military history, the latest of which is Into the Crater: The Mine Attack at Petersburg.
In one sense a folklorist's portrayal of a notable folk artist's life and art, Listening for a Life is equally a rethinking of the processes involved in such work, not only in how the folklorist conveys her subject but in how her subject constitutes and performs herself into being through dialogue with others: those present, those once present, those imagined and anticipated.
Drawing on Bahktinian and feminist theory, Sawin pushes forward our understanding of the interactive roles of ethnographer and subject and in the process gives us a deeper understanding of folk singer and storyteller Bessie Eldreth and her greatest art, herself.
The craft of making moonshine—an unaged white whiskey, often made and consumed outside legal parameters—nearly went extinct in the late twentieth century as law enforcement cracked down on illicit producers, and cheaper, lawful alcohol became readily available. Yet the twenty-first century has witnessed a resurgence of artisanal distilling, as both connoisseurs and those reconnecting with their heritage have created a vibrant new culture of moonshine. While not limited to Appalachia, moonshine is often entwined with the region in popular understandings.
The first interdisciplinary examination of the legal moonshine industry, Modern Moonshine probes the causes and impact of the so-called moonshine revival. What does the moonshine revival tell us about our national culture? How does it shape the image of Appalachia and rural America? Focusing mostly on southern Appalachia, the book’s eleven essays chronicle such popular figures as Popcorn Sutton and explore how and why distillers promote their product as “traditional” and “authentic.” This edited collection draws from scholars across the disciplines of anthropology, history, geography, and sociology to make sense of the legal, social, and historical shifts behind contemporary production and consumption of moonshine, and offers a fresh perspective on an enduring topic of Appalachian myth and reality.
The characters within these fifteen stories are in one way or another staring into the abyss. While some are awaiting redemption, others are fully complicit in their own undoing.
We come upon them in the mountains of West Virginia, in the backyards of rural North Carolina, and at tourist traps along Route 66, where they smolder with hidden desires and struggle to resist the temptations that plague them.
A Melungeon woman has killed her abusive husband and drives by the home of her son’s new foster family, hoping to lure the boy back. An elderly couple witnesses the end-times and is forced to hunt monsters if they hope to survive. A young girl “tanning and manning” with her mother and aunt resists being indoctrinated by their ideas about men. A preacher’s daughter follows in the footsteps of her backsliding mother as she seduces a man who looks a lot like the devil.
A master of Appalachian dialect and colloquial speech, Monks writes prose that is dark, taut, and muscular, but also beguiling and playful. Monsters in Appalachia is a powerful work of fiction.
Sydney Saylor Farr is a woman who knows Appalachia well. Born on Stoney Fork in southeastern Kentucky, she has lived much of her life close to the mountains, among people whose roots are deep in the soil and who pass on to their children a love for the land, a strong sense of belonging and of place.
Mountain food and how it is cooked is very much a part of this sense of place. Ask any displaced Appalachians what they miss most and they will probably talk about soup beans, country ham, and homemade buscuits. They may also remember the kitchens at home, the warmth from the wood-burning stove, the smell of coffee, and the family gathered around the kitchen table to eat and talk.
More than Moonshine is both a cookbook and a narrative that recounts the way of life of southern Appalachia from the 1940s to 1983. The women of Stoney Fork rarely had cash to spend, so they depended upon the free products of nature - their cookery used every nutritious, edible thing they could scour from the gardens and hillsides. These survival skills are recounted in the pages of More than Moonshine, with instructions for making moonshine whiskey, for fixing baked groundhog with sweet potatoes, for making turnip kraut, craklin’ bread, egg pie, apple stackcake, and other traditional dishes.
More than Moonshine is more than a cookbook. It evokes a way of life in the mid-twentieth century not unlike that of pioneer days.
Research in environmental justice reveals that low-income and minority neighborhoods in our nation’s cities are often the preferred sites for landfills, power plants, and polluting factories. Those who live in these sacrifice zones are forced to shoulder the burden of harmful environmental effects so that others can prosper. Mountains of Injustice broadens the discussion from the city to the country by focusing on the legacy of disproportionate environmental health impacts on communities in the Appalachian region, where the costs of cheap energy and cheap goods are actually quite high.
Through compelling stories and interviews with people who are fighting for environmental justice, Mountains of Injustice contributes to the ongoing debate over how to equitably distribute the long-term environmental costs and consequences of economic development.
Laura Allen, Brian Black, Geoffrey L. Buckley, Donald Edward Davis, Wren Kruse, Nancy Irwin Maxwell, Chad Montrie, Michele Morrone, Kathryn Newfont, John Nolt, Jedediah S. Purdy, and Stephen J. Scanlan.
Mountains Piled upon Mountains features nearly fifty writers from across Appalachia sharing their place-based fiction, literary nonfiction, and poetry. Moving beyond the tradition of transcendental nature writing, much of the work collected here engages current issues facing the region and the planet (such as hydraulic fracturing, water contamination, mountaintop removal, and deforestation), and provides readers with insights on the human-nature relationship in an era of rapid environmental change.
This book includes a mix of new and recent creative work by established and emerging authors. The contributors write about experiences from northern Georgia to upstate New York, invite parallels between a watershed in West Virginia and one in North Carolina, and often emphasize connections between Appalachia and more distant locations. In the pages of Mountains Piled upon Mountains are celebration, mourning, confusion, loneliness, admiration, and other emotions and experiences rooted in place but transcending Appalachia’s boundaries.
Residents of the Appalachian coalfields share a history and heritage, deep connections to the land, and pride in their own resilience. These same residents are also profoundly divided over the practice of mountaintop mining—that is, the removal and disposal in nearby valleys of soil and rock in order to reach underlying coal seams. Companies and some miners claim that the practice has reduced energy prices, earned income for shareholders, and provided needed jobs. Opponents of mountaintop mining argue that it poisons Appalachia’s waters and devastates entire communities for the sake of short-term gains.
This conflict is emblematic of many other environmental disputes in the United States and around the world, disputes whose intensity derives not only from economic and environmental stakes but also from competing claims to individual and community identity. Looking beyond the slogans and seemingly irreconcilable differences, however, can reveal deeper causes of conflict, such as flawed institutions, politics, and inequality or the strongly held values of parties for whom compromise is difficult to achieve.
Mountaintop Mining in Appalachia focuses on the people of the region, the people who have the most at stake and have been the most active in trying to shift views and practices. By examining the experiences of these stakeholders and their efforts to effect change, Susan F. Hirsch and E. Franklin Dukes introduce key concepts and theories from the field of conflict analysis and resolution. They provide a compelling case study of how stakeholders challenge governance-as-usual, while offering insight into the causes of conflict over other environmental issues.
We were going down the road, and we came to this house. There was a little boy standing by the road just crying and crying. We stopped, and we heard the biggest racket you ever heard up in the house. œWhat ™s the matter, son? œWhy, Maw and Paw are up there fightin ™. œWho is your Paw, son? œWell, that ™s what they are fightin ™ over. Brimming with ballads, stories, riddles, tall tales, and great good humor, My Curious and Jocular Heroes pays homage to four people who guided and inspired Loyal Jones ™s own study of Appalachian culture. His sharp-eyed portraits introduce a new generation to Bascom Lunsford, the pioneer behind the œmemory collections of song and story at Columbia University and the Library of Congress; the Sorbonne-educated collector and performer Josiah H. Combs; Cratis D. Williams, the legendary father of Appalachian studies; and the folklorist and master storyteller Leonard W. Roberts. Throughout, Jones highlights the tales, songs, jokes, and other collected nuggets that define the breadth of each man ™s research and repertoire.
In many parts of Appalachia, family ties run deep, constituting an important part of an individual’s sense of self. In some cases, when Appalachian learners seek new forms of knowledge, those family ties can be challenged by the accusation that they have gotten above their raisings, a charge that can have a lasting impact on family and community acceptance. Those who advocate literacy sometimes ignore an important fact — although empowering, newly acquired literacies can create identity conflicts for learners, especially Appalachian women. In Negotiating a Perilous Empowerment, Erica Abrams Locklear explores these literacy-initiated conflicts, analyzing how authors from the region portray them in their fiction and creative nonfiction.
Abrams Locklear blends literacy studies with literary criticism to analyze the central female characters in the works of Harriette Simpson Arnow, Linda Scott DeRosier, Denise Giardina, and Lee Smith. She shows how these authors deftly overturn stereotypes of an illiterate Appalachia by creating highly literate characters, women who not only cherish the power of words but also push the boundaries of what literacy means.
Negotiating a Perilous Empowerment includes in-depth interviews with Linda Scott DeRosier and Lee Smith, making this an insightful study of an important literary genre.
Known for his sometimes-gritty naturalism and use of Appalachian dialect, Harry Harrison Kroll (1888–1967) was a remarkably prolific Tennessee novelist and short-story writer during the middle decades of the twentieth century. His career spanned two of the three major shifts in publishing during the twentieth century: the heyday and decline of the fiction magazine market during the late 1920s, and the rise of nonfiction and solidification of paperback marketing during the 1950s. Never Been Rich explores details of Kroll’s humble, rural youth, his long delayed education and the development of his craft, before discussing his lengthy career and how it reflected changes in both public taste and the American publishing industry.
Kroll focused on writing not as a high art, but instead on what was popular—what would earn him a living. He preferred to write voluminously rather than exquisitely, and growing up in the rural south provided him with a broad and fertile field of experience to plow for his crop of stories. As a writing instructor, he had a profound influence on his students, particularly the well-known Appalachian triumvirate of James Still, Jesse Stuart, and Don West.
While Kroll may lack grand literary significance, Richard Saunders maintains that we should explore not merely the linguistic and thematic aspects of a writer’s work but also its broad economic and social contexts, including the idea that literature is both an art form and a marketable product in an extensive industry. His study of Kroll delves deeply into those contexts and shows that, while Kroll did not strive for a place among writers of high literature, he exemplifies the far more widely read popular literature of his times.
In the space of the thirty-some years I have called myself a storyteller, the balance of what I tell has shifted from children’s stories and traditional folk and fairy tales told in schools, churches, and community centers to stories drawn directly from my own experiences. But I also understand that by adapting and re-imagining traditional folk and fairy tale material, you can provide a point of entry for contemporary listeners to experience, as psychologist Bruno Bettelheim has suggested in his book The Uses of Enchantment, the continuing power of the old stories to speak to the imagination and heart.
Wanting to make a connection between the older stories and our existential circumstance, I sought to re-interpret folk and fairy tales by placing them in a more contemporary context. The confusing Black Forest of the Brothers Grimm became the crowded shopping mall. Rapunzel’s mother sought a more familiar drug than the painkilling herbs of the witch’s garden. I also created stories that were in the style of the older folk and fairy tales. One featured a lowly cucumber plant that, after consuming radioactive water and junk-food compost, became the glowing, green Godzilla of pickles. Another featured a boy named Jack, who found fame and fortune racing inner-city cockroaches.
In creating and performing original stories and reimagined folk tales, as well as teaching stories to students of all ages, it has become clear to me that how we tell the story, as much as why, is at the very heart of the art. By “how,” I do not mean how we use voice and gesture, etc., but how we organize stories to get across their meanings to an audience.
There are two central facts at the heart of the oral story. The first is that it begins when the teller begins and ends when the teller ends it, though I could argue that it actually ends when the audience dismisses it. This is fundamentally different from the written story, where a reader can go back and read the same words again. With the spoken word, we are in the moment. Even if we could ask the teller to go back and say something again, the very act of asking would alter the way in which the information is conveyed to us. This leads directly to the second basic fact: the act of telling is an expression of the relationship of the teller to the audience. We always tell to someone, even if it is to ourselves. It is incumbent upon us to recognize that the choice we make about how we tell a story to a given audience is as much about our understanding of who that audience is as it is about what we are saying to the audience.
It is this crucial understanding of how the narrative is shaped and the choices we make as tellers to share a particular version of a story with a particular audience that I wish to explore with you. Whether we are working with a live audience in performance or with an imagined one while typing away on our laptops, the creation of compelling fiction and non-fiction begins with how to frame the story.
This book is for storytellers and would-be storytellers, whether you call yourself a writer, minister, politician, journalist, lawyer, teacher, therapist, or street-corner b.s.’er. Whatever the name, the benefit you derive from the application of this material to your creative process will come from understanding how narrative is shaped and making conscious decisions about shaping that narrative content. This book was developed in workshops and classes I’ve conducted with storytellers and writers since 1986. In the course of those years, this teaching practice has refined my thinking and improved my ability to help participants discover new approaches to creating powerful, authentic, and entertaining stories.
Much of what I say will be framed around the creation of stories as oral performance, but the concepts and exercises I suggest apply to written material as well. Whether the stories are oral or written, this book is about three things: the choice of an appropriate narrative form to provide the story’s structure, the choice of an appropriate point of view and timeframe to support the story’s emotional arc, and how those choices help or hinder the transmission of the meaning of the story to an audience.
The News Untold offers an important new perspective on media narratives about poverty in Appalachia. It focuses on how small-town reporters and editors in some of the region’s poorest communities decide what aspects of poverty are news, how their audiences interpret those decisions, and how those two related processes help shape broader understandings of economic need and local social responsibility. Focusing on patterns of both media creation and consumption, The News Untold shows how a lack of constructive news coverage of economic need can make it harder for the poor to voice their concerns.
Critical and inclusive news coverage of poverty at the local level, Michael Clay Carey writes, can help communities start to look past old stereotypes and attitudes and encourage solutions that incorporate broader sets of community voices. Such an effort will require journalists and community leaders to reexamine some of the professional traditions and social views that often shape what news looks like in small towns.
Marcos McPeek Villatoro is not afraid to discuss mysteries, truths, or injustices. He has lived them. Poet and novelist, activist and radio personality, Villatoro writes poetry steeped in formalism, free verse, and his own Salvadoran syntax. This new collection is a memoir-in-poems telling how the world appears to a Latin American immigrant. His sense of humanity is intact. He has a family, a job, a life in the States. But the face of the Mayan hero Tekún Umán hangs in his office, and he has "made clear all political positions by standing behind the wooden mask of a dead man."
Villatoro is a writer with a keen political sensibility and a sense of humor besides. After confronting the reader with weighty issues, he pauses to have an encounter with a curandera in a cornfield; to speculate on a visit from extraterrestrials; and to pay tribute to his free-spirited, loose-living Uncle Jack, who "chewed forest mushrooms like a rabbit, / Then howled at a California night / While whispering querida above open thighs." Combining Borgean logic, the grit of Neruda, and a heady dose of Zen, Villatoro offers a primer on how to integrate a history of brutality and injustice with the privilege and comfort of life in America. A final section of poems is presented in Spanish only—a statement of ascendance, a strategy for identity preservation, a gift to the cognoscenti.
Reading On Tuesday, When the Homeless Disappeared may make you shift in your seat—perhaps even toss in your sleep—as you encounter a poignant human voice that is unafraid to speak from the heart.
Motivated by a deeply rooted sense of place and community, Appalachian women have long fought against the damaging effects of industrialization. In this collection of interviews, sociologist Shannon Elizabeth Bell presents the voices of twelve Central Appalachian women, environmental justice activists fighting against mountaintop removal mining and its devastating effects on public health, regional ecology, and community well-being.
Each woman narrates her own personal story of injustice and tells how that experience led her to activism. The interviews--many of them illustrated by the women's "photostories"--describe obstacles, losses, and tragedies. But they also tell of new communities and personal transformations catalyzed through activism. Bell supplements each narrative with careful notes that aid the reader while amplifying the power and flow of the activists' stories. Bell's analysis outlines the relationship between Appalachian women's activism and the gendered responsibilities they feel within their families and communities. Ultimately, Bell argues that these women draw upon a broader "protector identity" that both encompasses and extends the identity of motherhood that has often been associated with grassroots women's activism. As protectors, the women challenge dominant Appalachian gender expectations and guard not only their families but also their homeplaces, their communities, their heritage, and the endangered mountains that surround them.
30% of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to organizations fighting for environmental justice in Central Appalachia.
Out of Peel Tree
Laura Long West Virginia University Press, 2014 Library of Congress PS3612.O538O98 2014 | Dewey Decimal 813.6
Moving through time and space, Out of Peel Tree unfolds the patterns of an Appalachian sensibility that reverberate everywhere: a fatalism balanced by humor and flinty, hard-won hope, an appreciation for the surprises of the everyday, and a search for love and home amid strange and familiar places and people.
This innovative debut novel reveals the lives of a far-flung contemporary Appalachian family through a web of delicate turning points. A child discovers a grandmother she never knew has died. A runaway teen schemes to start a new life in Texas. A man on parole falls hopelessly in love with a shoplifter. A woman receives a letter about her husband’s other wife. An old woman confronts a burglar with the help of her ghost-husband.
United by a connection to their matriarch, these characters search at home and beyond to make a fresh sense of their changing lives. As a novel in stories, Out of Peel Tree brings a new lyricism to the page and a new voice to American and Appalachian literature—a voice deeply inflected by the beauty of the natural world and by working-class grit.
Meredith Sue Willis’s Out of the Mountains is a collection of thirteen short stories set in contemporary Appalachia. Firmly grounded in place, the stories voyage out into the conflicting cultural identities that native Appalachians experience as they balance mainstream and mountain identities.
Willis’s stories explore the complex negotiations between longtime natives of the region and its newcomers and the rifts that develop within families over current issues such as mountaintop removal and homophobia. Always, however, the situations depicted in these stories are explored in the service of a deeper understanding of the people involved, and of the place. This is not the mythic version of Appalachia, but the Appalachia of the twenty-first century.
With a new introduction by A.E. Stringer, this reprint of Louise McNeill's classic work remains as vivid as when it was first published. Containing poems from several decades of her career, Paradox Hill: From Appalachia to Lunar Shore is a must-have collection of a beloved poet's heartfelt exploration of her physical and cultural surroundings.
Often thought of as impoverished, backward, and victimized, the people of the southern mountains have long been prime candidates for development projects conceptualized and controlled from outside the region. This book, breaking with old stereotypes and the strategies they spawned, proposes an alternative paradigm for development projects in Appalachian communities-one that is far more inclusive and democratic than previous models.
Emerging from a critical analysis of the modern development process, the participatory development approach advocated in this book assumes that local culture has value, that local communities have assets, and that local people have the capacity to envision and provide leadership for their own social change. It thus promotes better decision making in Appalachian communities through public participation and civic engagement.
Filling a void in current research by detailing useful, hands-on tools and methods employed in a variety of contexts and settings, the book combines relevant case studies of successful participatory projects with practical recommendations from seasoned professionals. Editor Susan E. Keefe has included the perspectives of anthropologists, sociologists, and others who have been engaged, sometimes for decades, in Appalachian communities. These contributors offer hopeful new strategies for dealing with Appalachia's most enduring problems-strategies that will also aid activists and researchers working in other distressed or underserved communities.
Susan E. Keefe is professor of anthropology at Appalachian State University. She is the editor of Appalachian Mental Health and Appalachian Cultural Competency: A Guide for Medical, Mental Health, and Social Service Professionals.
Planted by the Signs brings us the contemporary Appalachian poetry—cultivated in the dirt of Elliott County, Kentucky—of Misty Skaggs. With an eye for details that exquisitely balance personal and social observation to communicate volumes, she tells the stories of generations of women who have learned to navigate a harsh world with a little help from the Farmers’ Almanac and the stars. The collection is separated into three sections that reference the best times to grow and harvest. Knowing and following these guidelines—planting by the signs—could mean the difference between prosperity and tragedy in the lives of Appalachian families.
Personal, political, and passionate, Planted by the Signs also explores what it means for Skaggs to care for her great-grandmother at the end of her life. Color photos by the poet further showcase her sidelong and fierce outlook. The images and poems together deliver an intimate look into the day-to-day reality of a backwoods woman embracing barefooted radicalism in the only place she could call home.
In exploring the ways that Appalachian people speak and write, Amanda E. Hayes raises the importance of knowing and respecting communication styles within a marginalized culture. Diving deep into the region’s historical roots—especially those of the Scotch-Irish and their influence on her own Appalachian Ohio—Hayes reveals a rhetoric with its own unique logic, utility, and poetry.
Hayes also considers the headwinds against Appalachian rhetoric, notably ideologies about poverty and the biases of the school system. She connects these to challenges that Appalachian students face in the classroom and pinpoints pedagogical and structural approaches for change.
Throughout, Hayes blends conventional scholarship with autobiography, storytelling, and language, illustrating Appalachian rhetoric’s validity as a means of creating and sharing knowledge.
Reissued as a companion edition to Trying to Give Ease: Tommie Bass and the Story of Herbal Medicine, this illustrated reference guide covers over 700 medicinal plants, of which more than 150 are readily obtainable in health food stores and other outlets. Based on the Appalachian herbal practice of the late A. L. "Tommie" Bass, each account of a plant includes the herbalist’s comment, an assessment of the plant’s efficacy, and current information on its chemical constituents and pharmacological effects. Unlike most herbal guides, this is a comprehensive, fully documented reference work that interweaves scientific evaluation with folkloric use.
A coal mining technique practiced in southern West Virginia known as mountaintop removal is drastically altering the terrain of the Appalachian Mountains. Peaks are flattened and valleys are filled as the coal industry levels thousands of acres of forest to access the coal, in the process turning the forest into scrubby shrublands and poisoning the water. This is dangerous and environmentally devastating work, but as Rebecca R. Scott shows in Removing Mountains, the issues at play are vastly complicated.
In this rich ethnography of life in Appalachia, Scott examines mountaintop removal in light of controversy and protests from environmental groups calling for its abolishment. But Removing Mountains takes the conversation in a new direction, telling the stories of the businesspeople, miners, and families who believe they depend on the industry to survive. Scott reveals these southern Appalachian coalfields as a meaningful landscape where everyday practices and representations help shape a community's relationship to the environment.
Removing Mountains demonstrates that the paradox that faces this community-forced to destroy their land to make a wage-raises important questions related not only to the environment but also to American national identity, place, and white working-class masculinity.
Sarah Beth Childers grew up listening to stories. She heard them riding to school with her mother, playing Yahtzee in her Granny’s nicotine cloud, walking to the bowling alley with her grandfather, and eating casseroles at the family reunions she attended every year.
In a thoughtful, humorous voice born of Appalachian storytelling, Childers brings to life in these essays events that affected the entire region: large families that squeezed into tiny apartments during the Great Depression, a girl who stepped into a rowboat from a second-story window during Huntington’s 1937 flood, brothers who were whisked away to World War II and Vietnam, and a young man who returned home from the South Pacific and worked his life away as a railroad engineer.
Childers uses these family tales to make sense of her personal journey and find the joy and clarity that often emerge after the earth shakes terribly beneath us.
Signs, Cures, & Witchery provides a fascinating glimpse of some little-known Appalachian beliefs and practices among descendants of early German pioneers. Signs, Cures and Witchery opens a window into our ancient past, revealing the courage and resourcefulness of people whose survival depended on their ability to "read signs," cure their own ills, and find explanations for life's mysteries. Local community practices in West Virginia such as witch doctoring, "belsnickling," "shanghai," and folk healing are connected to their medieval counterparts in woodcuts and other works of art. In tracing immigration to remote mountain communities, we learn how expressions of folk art and folk belief survive. This work specifically examines aspects of Appalachian oral tradition and folklore that draw from German culture. Informative and entertaining, Signs, Cures, and Witchery is an invaluable aid to all who have an interest in religion, psychology, folklore, metaphysical, regional, gender, and ethnic studies.
Gerald C. Milnes is the folk arts coordinator of the Augusta Heritage Center at Davis and Elkins College. He is the editor of Granny Will Your Dog Bite and Other Mountain Rhymes and author of Play a Fiddle: Traditional Music, Dance, and Folklore in West Virginia.
In The Sound of the Dove, Beverly Bush Patterson explores one of the oldest traditions of American religious folksong: unaccompanied congregational singing in Appalachian Primitive Baptist churches. Using interviews, field observations, historical research, song transcriptions, and musical analysis, Patterson explores the dynamic relationship between singing and theology in these churches, the genesis of their musical practices, and the unexpectedly significant role of women in their conservative congregations. An hour-long audio recording of Primitive Baptist singing is available separately.
Standing Our Ground: Women, Environmental Justice, and the Fight to End Mountaintop Removal examines women’s efforts to end mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia. Mountaintop removal coal mining, which involves demolishing the tops of hills and mountains to provide access to coal seams, is one of the most significant environmental threats in Appalachia, where it is most commonly practiced.
The Appalachian women featured in Barry’s book have firsthand experience with the negative impacts of Big Coal in West Virginia. Through their work in organizations such as the Coal River Mountain Watch and the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, they fight to save their mountain communities by promoting the development of alternative energy resources. Barry’s engaging and original work reveals how women’s tireless organizing efforts have made mountaintop removal a global political and environmental issue and laid the groundwork for a robust environmental justice movement in central Appalachia.
In this collection, contributors reflect on scholarly, artistic, activist, educational, and practical endeavor known as Appalachian Studies. Following an introduction to the field, the writers discuss how Appalachian Studies illustrates the ways interdisciplinary studies emerge, organize, and institutionalize themselves, and how they engage with intellectual, political, and economic forces both locally and around the world.
Essayists argue for Appalachian Studies' integration with kindred fields like African American studies, women's studies, and Southern studies, and they urge those involved in the field to globalize the perspective of Appalachian Studies; to commit to continued applied, participatory action, and community-based research; to embrace more fully the field's capacity for bringing about social justice; to advocate for a more accurate understanding of Appalachia and its people; and to understand and overcome the obstacles interdisciplinary studies face in the social and institutional construction of knowledge.
Contributors: Chris Baker, Chad Berry, Donald Edward Davis, Amanda Fickey, Chris Green, Erica Abrams Locklear, Phillip J. Obermiller, Douglas Reichert Powell, Michael Samers, Shaunna L. Scott, and Barbara Ellen Smith.
Contemporaries were shocked when author Mary Noailles Murfree revealed she was a woman, but modern readers may be more surprised by her cogent discussion of community responses to unwanted development. Effie Waller Smith, an African American woman writing of her love for the Appalachian mountains, wove discussions of women's rights, racial tension, and cultural difference into her Appalachian poetry. Grace MacGowan Cooke participated in avant-garde writers' colonies with the era's literary lights and applied their progressive ideals to her fiction about the Appalachia of her youth. Emma Bell Miles, witness to poverty, industrialization, and violence against women, wrote poignant and insightful critiques of her Appalachian home.
In The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature Elizabeth Engelhardt finds in all four women's writings the origins of what we recognize today as ecological feminism—a wide-reaching philosophy that values the connections between humans and nonhumans and works for social and environmental justice.
People and the land in Appalachia were also the subject of women authors with radically different approaches to mountains and their residents. Authors with progressive ideas about women's rights did not always respect the Appalachian places they were writing about or apply their ideas to all of the women in those places—but they did create hundreds of short stories, novels, letters, diaries, photographs, sketches, and poems about the mountains.
While The Tangled Roots of Feminism, Environmentalism, and Appalachian Literature ascribes much that is noble to the beginnings of the ecological feminism movement as it developed in Appalachia, it is also unyielding in its assessment of the literatures of the voyeur, tourist, and social crusader who supported status quo systems of oppression in Appalachia.
On April 5, 2010, an explosion ripped through Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine, killing twenty-nine coal miners. This tragedy was the deadliest mine disaster in the United States in forty years—a disaster that never should have happened. These deaths were rooted in the cynical corporate culture of Massey and its notorious former CEO Don Blankenship, and were part of an endless cycle of poverty, exploitation, and environmental abuse that has dominated the Appalachian coalfields since coal was first discovered there. And the cycle continues unabated as coal companies bury the most insidious dangers deep underground, all in search of higher profits, and hide the true costs from regulators, unions, and investors alike. But the disaster at Upper Big Branch goes beyond the coalfields of West Virginia. It casts a global shadow, calling into bitter question why coal miners in the United States are sacrificed to erect cities on the other side of the world, why the coal wars have been allowed to rage, polarizing the country, and how the world’s voracious appetite for energy is satisfied at such horrendous cost.
With Thunder on the Mountain, Peter A. Galuszka pieces together the true story of greed and negligence behind the tragedy at the Upper Big Branch Mine, and in doing so he has created a devastating portrait of an entire industry that exposes the coal-black motivations that led to the death of twenty-nine miners and fuel the ongoing war for the world’s energy future.
This paperback edition contains a foreword by Denise Giardinia that provides an update on Massey Energy and Donald Blankenship, Chairman and CEO of Massey Energy Company during the UBB disaster, and recounts her own experiences with Massey Energy and the United Mine Workers Association in the 1980s. This edition also includes a notes section and a bibliography.
In this era of globalization's ruthless deracination, place attachments have become increasingly salient in collective mobilizations across the spectrum of politics. Like place-based activists in other resource-rich yet impoverished regions across the globe, Appalachians are contesting economic injustice, environmental degradation, and the anti-democratic power of elites. This collection of seventeen original essays by scholars and activists from a variety of backgrounds explores this wide range of oppositional politics, querying its successes, limitations, and impacts. The editors' critical introduction and conclusion integrate theories of place and space with analyses of organizations and events discussed by contributors. Transforming Places illuminates widely relevant lessons about building coalitions and movements with sufficient strength to challenge corporate-driven globalization.
Contributors are Fran Ansley, Yaira Andrea Arias Soto, Dwight B. Billings, M. Kathryn Brown, Jeannette Butterworth, Paul Castelloe, Aviva Chomsky, Dave Cooper, Walter Davis, Meredith Dean, Elizabeth C. Fine, Jenrose Fitzgerald, Doug Gamble, Nina Gregg, Edna Gulley, Molly Hemstreet, Mary Hufford, Ralph Hutchison, Donna Jones, Ann Kingsolver, Sue Ella Kobak, Jill Kriesky, Michael E. Maloney, Lisa Markowitz, Linda McKinney, Ladelle McWhorter, Marta Maria Miranda, Chad Montrie, Maureen Mullinax, Phillip J. Obermiller, Rebecca O'Doherty, Cassie Robinson Pfleger, Randal Pfleger, Anita Puckett, Katie Richards-Schuster, June Rostan, Rees Shearer, Daniel Swan, Joe Szakos, Betsy Taylor, Thomas E. Wagner, Craig White, and Ryan Wishart.
In Trying to Give Ease, John K. Crellin and Jane Philpott focus on the life, practices, and accumulated knowledge of the late A. L. "Tommie" Bass, a widely known and admired Appalachian herbalist. Informed by insights drawn from several disciplines, particularly anthropology, their broad historical analyses of self-care practices and herbal remedies draw heavily on recorded interviews with Bass and his patients. Special attention is given to local resources that shape alternative medicine, the backgrounds of herbal practitioners, and the cultural currency of medical concepts once central to professional medicine and now less common. The authors report on both the physical effects of herbal remedies and the psychological factors that have an impact on their success. Trying to Give Ease is a companion to A Reference Guide to Medicinal Plants, also published by Duke University Press.
Turkey vultures, the most widely distributed and abundant scavenging birds of prey on the planet, are found from central Canada to the southern tip of Argentina, and nearly everywhere in between. In the United States we sometimes call them buzzards; in parts of Mexico the name is aura cabecirroja, in Uruguay jote cabeza colorada, and in Ecuador gallinazo aura. A huge bird, the turkey vulture is a familiar sight from culture to culture, in both hemispheres. But despite being ubiquitous and recognizable, the turkey vulture has never had a book of literary nonfiction devoted to it—until Vulture. Floating on six-foot wings, turkey vultures use their keen senses of smell and sight to locate carrion. Unlike their cousin the black vulture, turkey vultures do not kill weak or dying animals; instead, they cleanse, purify, and renew the environment by clearing it of decaying carcasses, thus slowing the spread of such dangerous pathogens as anthrax, rabies, and botulism. The beauty, grace, and important role of these birds in the ecosystem notwithstanding, turkey vultures are maligned and underappreciated; they have been accused of spreading disease and killing livestock, neither of which has ever been substantiated. Although turkey vultures are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which makes harming them a federal offense, the birds still face persecution. They’ve been killed because of their looks, their odor, and their presence in proximity to humans. Even the federal government occasionally sanctions “roost dispersals,” which involve the harassment and sometimes the murder of communally roosting vultures during the cold winter months. Vulture follows a year in the life of a typical North American turkey vulture. By incorporating information from scientific papers and articles, as well as interviews with world-renowned raptor and vulture experts, author Katie Fallon examines all aspects of the bird’s natural history: breeding, incubating eggs, raising chicks, migrating, and roosting. After reading this book you will never look at a vulture in the same way again.
In Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean, Adrian Blevins and Karen Salyer McElmurray collect essays from today’s finest established and emerging writers with roots in Appalachia. Together, these essays take the theme of silencing in Appalachian culture, whether the details of that theme revolve around faith, class, work, or family legacies.
In essays that take wide-ranging forms—making this an ideal volume for creative nonfiction classes—contributors write about families left behind, hard-earned educations, selves transformed, identities chosen, and risks taken. They consider the courage required for the inheritances they carry.
Toughness and generosity alike characterize works by Dorothy Allison, bell hooks, Silas House, and others. These writers travel far away from the boundaries of a traditional Appalachia, and then circle back—always—to the mountains that made each of them the distinctive thinking and feeling people they ultimately became. The essays in Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean are an individual and collective act of courage.
Dorothy Allison, Rob Amberg, Pinckney Benedict, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Sheldon Lee Compton, Michael Croley, Richard Currey, Joyce Dyer, Sarah Einstein, Connie May Fowler, RJ Gibson, Mary Crockett Hill, bell hooks, Silas House, Jason Howard, David Huddle, Tennessee Jones, Lisa Lewis, Jeff Mann, Chris Offutt, Ann Pancake, Jayne Anne Phillips, Melissa Range, Carter Sickels, Aaron Smith, Jane Springer, Ida Stewart, Jacinda Townsend, Jessie van Eerden, Julia Watts, Charles Dodd White, and Crystal Wilkinson.
In this innovative work, Danny L. Miller surveys some of the depictions of mountain women from the 1880s to the 1950s, in the writings of Mary Noailles Murfree, Edith Summers Kelley, Anne W. Armstrong, Emma Bell Miles, Jesse Stuart, James Still, and Harriette Arnow. The major aims of the study are to show changes in the descriptions of mountain women—from non-native to native portrayals; from romantic to realistic presentations; and from an emphasis on victimization and drudgery to an emphasis on strength and endurance. Miller identifies qualities that have consistently characterized mountain women in literature.
Scholars of southern Appalachia have largely focused their research on men, particularly white men. While there have been a few important studies of Appalachian women, no one book has offered a broad overview across time and place. With this collection, editors Connie Park Rice and Marie Tedesco redress this imbalance, telling the stories of these women and calling attention to the varied backgrounds of those who call the mountains home.
The essays of Women of the Mountain South debunk the entrenched stereotype of Appalachian women as poor and white, and shine a long-overdue spotlight on women too often neglected in the history of the region. Each author focuses on a particular individual or group, but together they illustrate the diversity of women who live in the region and the depth of their life experiences. The Mountain South has been home to Native American, African American, Latina, and white women, both rich and poor. Civil rights and gay rights advocates, environmental and labor activists, prostitutes, and coal miners—all have lived in the place called the Mountain South and enriched its history and culture.