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Voices from the Misty Mountains: Appalachian Writers and Mountain Culture

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

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.


Dates: July 7—27 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Sylvia Shurbutt, Shepherd University
Grantee Institutions: Shepherd University
Location: Shepherdstown, WV

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.