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Appalachia in the Classroom

Teaching the Region

Theresa L. Burriss and Patricia M. Gantt

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7

Table of Contents

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pp. vii-ix

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Dedication and Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-13

The publication of Appalachia in the Classroom: Teaching the Region is bittersweet. While such a teaching aid is long overdue in Appalachian pedagogy, the release of the book was delayed due to tragic and unforeseen life events as contributors submitted their chapters. First, Appalachia lost one of its most...

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pp. xiii-xxi

As we move into the second decade of the twenty-first century, the scholarly discipline of Appalachian Studies continues to evolve and change to keep pace with the living culture on which it focuses. While Appalachian Studies must remain mindful of the past to understand and inform the present, educators...

Part One. Creative Teaching of Appalachian History

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pp. 1-25

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1. Intro to Appalacian Studies: Navigating Myths of Appalachian Exceptionalism

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pp. 3-32

These epigraphs1 represent four stances toward the idea of Appalachia that I see at the beginning of each semester when I teach Introduction to Appalachian Studies. About a third or more of my students come to Blacksburg and Virginia Tech from the metropolitan areas of...

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2. Listening to Black Appalachian Laundrywomen: Teaching with Photographs, Letters, Diaries, and Lost Voices

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pp. 33-49

In 1989 , scholar Darlene Clark Hine proposed the concept “culture of dissemblance” to discuss the challenges and ethical issues of recovering black US women’s lives. In her influential “Rape and the Inner Lives of Black Women in the Middle West,” Hine focused primarily on the...

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3. The Southern Highlands according to Hollywood: Teaching Appalachian History through Film

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pp. 50-66

One of the courses that I most Enjoy teaching is a freshman seminar called “Appalachia on Film.” At the University of Georgia, I’m an academic exile from the region (though I take comfort on occasion that Athens is only one county away from official Appalachia, according...

Part Two. Appalachian Literature and Folktales In and Out of the Classroom

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pp. 67-91

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4. Building Bridges with Ron Rash's The World Made Straight: Results from One University and High School Partnership

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pp. 69-81

It seems to me that living in Appalaichia and also teaching about Appalachia presents a complicated opportunity. On one hand, you are fully immersed in what sociologists would call a “case study.” For instance, you can read about folkway food traditions like ramp festivals and...

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5. The Feast Hall, the Arsenal, and the Mirror: Teaching Literature to Students at Risk

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pp. 82-94

When teaching literature, sometimes I feel as if I’m giving students much-needed food. It seems inevitable that a man like me, descended from a family of hearty mountain cooks and gourmands, would compare a poem to a biscuit, a short story to a big slab of country ham. The writing that has helped...

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6. I Hear Appalachia Singing: Teaching Appalachian Literature in a General Education American Literature Course

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pp. 95-108

Later that year, working her way through the fiction books in the college library, Smith came across James Still’s ([1940] 1978) novel River of Earth. She was taking classes with such luminaries as R. H. W. Dillard and Louis Rubin, and though she had dreamed since childhood of being a writer, she...

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7. "Way Back Yonder" but Not So Far Away: Teaching Appalachian Folktales

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pp. 109-128

Jack and the Wonder Beans by James Still opens by placing Jack and his poor mother “way back yonder,” but they are also in “their homeseat . . . here on Wolfpen Creek” (where Still lived in Knott County, Kentucky). “Or around about” (Still [1977] 1996). As Still’s introduction demonstrates, the words of...

Part Three. The Novel in Appalachia

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pp. 129-153

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8. Teaching Modern Appalachia in Wilma Dykeman's The Far Family

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pp. 131-148

The first of Dykeman’s novels that I taught to this western audience was her best-known, The Tall Woman (1962). It was such a resounding success with my folk narrative class that many listed it as the high point of the semester. One student suggested it to her mother for selection by her book club, and...

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9. Fred Chappell's I Am One of You Forever as a Subject for Literary Analysis and an Alternative Image of Mid-Twentieth-Century Appalachia

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pp. 149-168

In addition to its virtues as a depiction of the Appalachian region, I Am One of You Forever is a rich and rewarding novel for thesis-driven literary analysis by college-level writers. Thanks to an unusual structure and an array of easily perceived and delineated themes, a book that is complex enough to challenge...

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10. Startling Morals: Teaching Ecofiction with Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer

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pp. 169-185

To learn what is wrong with our environment, and why one ought to think about saving the world, a reader need only turn to a number of treatises, case studies, congressional hearings, and scientific measures giving alarming readings. The Environmental Protection Agency, along with...

Part Four. Appalachian Poetry and Prose

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pp. 187-211

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11. Appalachian Poetry: A Field Guide for Teachers

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pp. 189-212

Not all poets fit neatly within the ARC’s boundaries. Fred Chappell has spent most of his career at UNC-Greensboro, off the map. Jim Wayne Miller wrote a great deal while professor of German at Western Kentucky University, off the map. David Huddle is at the University of Vermont, off the map....

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12. From Harlem Home to Affrilachia: Teaching the Literary Journey

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pp. 213-231

When asked to define the Affrilachian aesthetic, Walker explains, “I would define [it] as a collective commitment to make the invisible visible, to redefine the literary landscape of the region as one that is more diverse than mass media portrays it as.”1 Nell Irvin Painter, in the foreword to Blacks in Appalachia...

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13. Teaching Poetry and Prose of Marilou Awiakta

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pp. 232-251

For her writing, she chose her middle name, Awiakta, given to her by her grandfather. It means “eye of the deer” and is also the Cherokee name for the vibrant flowering plant known as black-eyed Susan. She has written in some form virtually her whole life. As a youngster she declared to her...

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14. Toward "Crystal-Tight Arrays"; Teaching the Evolving Art of Robert Morgan’s Poetry

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pp. 252-264

Robert Morgan has written poetry of distinction for more than forty years: his first book, Zirconia Poems, appeared in 1969; and in 2011 he brought out his fifteenth collection, Terroir. His poems have often first appeared in such prestigious venues as Poetry, the Southern Review. the Georgia...


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pp. 265-268


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pp. 269-280

E-ISBN-13: 9780821444566
E-ISBN-10: 0821444565
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821420423
Print-ISBN-10: 0821420429

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Appalachian Region -- Study and teaching (Higher).
  • American literature -- Appalachian Region -- Study and teaching (Higher).
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