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The Power of Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for thirty school teachers on the role of landscape in shaping southern Appalachian history and culture.

This institute focuses on the role of landscape in shaping southern Appalachian history and culture. During week one, "The Land and Early Peoples," participants examine Native American adaptations to the natural environment of the southern Appalachian mountains. Using maps, eyewitness accounts, historical writings, and Cherokee stories, they then discuss early encounters between the Indians and European colonists. During week two, "Mountain Revolutions," participants explore Cherokee efforts, mostly-futile, to stave off settlers' incursions on their lands by adjusting their farming methods, forms of government, and social institutions. They discuss the nature of slave-holding in the mountains and the divided loyalties of families and communities during the Civil War. They then consider the social and environmental impact of large-scale mining in the mountains, the coming of the railroad, and the beginning of Appalachian tourism. During week three, "Appalachia Comes of Age," participants discuss twentieth-century efforts to address the over-exploitation of the area's natural resources, efforts to combat negative stereotypes of "hillbilly" mountaineers, and the modern cultural renaissance in the region. Jamie Ross (producer of the PBS series, Appalachia: A History of Mountains and People) and historian Daniel S. Pierce (University of North Carolina, Asheville) co-direct the institute, along with additional faculty support from literature professor Erica Locklear. Guest lecturers include historians Timothy Silver (Appalachian State University), John Inscoe (University of Georgia), Ronald Eller (University of Kentucky), Grace Hale, (University of Virginia), Darin Waters (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), sociologist Helen Lewis (independent scholar), and authors Crystal Wilkinson, Ron Rash, and Rob Amberg. Readings include excerpts from (among other works) Charles Lanman, Letters from the Allegheny Mountains; Frederick Law Olmsted, A Journey in the Backcountry; Vicki Rozema, Cherokee Voices: Early Accounts of Cherokee Life in the East; Mary Ellen Pudup, Dwight Billings, and Altina Waller, eds., Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century; John Inscoe and Gordon McKinney, The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War; and Ron Eller, Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers. Field trips are made to Mount Mitchell; the Qualla Boundary, home of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee; the birthplace and farmstead of Civil War politician Zebulon Vance; George Vanderbilt's Biltmore House; the Blue Ridge Parkway and Folk Art Center; and an Appalachian musical festival.

Faculty: Erica Abrams Locklear, Sandra Byrd, Timothy Silver, John Inscoe, Grace Hale, Ron Eller, Ron Rash, Rob Amberg, Crystal Wilkinson



Dates: July 7—July 26 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Jamie S. Ross, James Agee Film Project, and Daniel Pierce, University of North Carolina, Asheville
Grantee Institutions: James Agee Film Project
Location: Asheville, NC

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.