A three-week seminar for sixteen high school teachers on Appalachia's literary and cultural heritage.
This new seminar explores Appalachia through its literary heritage and cultural traditions. Week one focuses on the "voices" of three important Appalachian writers: Native American writer Marilou Awikata's Selu: Wisdom of the Corn Goddess, Jesse Stuart's "Split Cherry Tree," and Silas House's A Parchment of Leaves. The week concludes with a stage reading (by House) of his play Long Time Traveling as part of the Contemporary American Theater Festival in Shepherdstown, and the viewing of Matewan, a film about a labor strike that turned violent. Week two begins with a conversation about storytelling, with selections from Lee Smith's Oral History. Participants then explore Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s memoir Colored People, Rebecca Harding Davis's Life in the Iron Mills, Fred Chappell's Farewell, I'm Bound to Leave You, and the film version of Harriette Arnow's The Dollmaker. The final week begins with a discussion of Appalachian music with Appalachian Heritage Festival director Rachael Meads. This is followed with discussions of Ron Rash's Serena and Among the Believers, and Denise Giardina's Saints and Villains. The week culminates with a road trip through the Appalachian mountains to the West Virginia Culture Center at Charleston and Hawks Nest State Park, the site of the industrial disaster at the heart of Giardina's book. Seminar director Sylvia Shurbett (Shepherd University) assists participants in researching and developing either a formal conference paper or a short teaching unit on Appalachian literature and culture.