The Appalachian Symposium 2015 Schedule

Appalachian Symposium 2015

The Appalachian Symposium 2015 at Berea College was held September 9-10, 2015.  This page has information about that past event. 

For information on the upcoming Symposium visit our main Symposium page.

All events are free and open to the public. We welcome large school groups or anyone at all who would like to attend. There is plenty of room at all events (except for master classes, where space is somewhat limited, so show up in time to secure your seat). No registration required. Just show up and listen to these interesting public conversations.

Back to Main Symposium 2015 Page

Pertinent Information (Directions, Lodging, Parking, Shopping, Dining, Nature, etc.)

September 9

Unless otherwise specified, all events will take place in the Gray Auditorium of Presser Hall.



The Power of the Meaningful Specific:

Master Class in Poetry

An intensive master class in the fundamentals of writing poetry.

Darnell Arnoult—Appalachian Center Gallery, Stephenson Hall



Welcome: Silas House and Chad Berry

Keynote One: Appalachia Is Our Fate

One of our leading public intellectuals and acclaimed writers starts off our gathering with a compelling and moving talk about belonging to a culture that has shaped us in such significant ways.

bell hooks



Where I’m From: Dialect and Accepted Classism

Many people believe it is perfectly acceptable to demean Appalachians—and Appalachian writers—because of where they’re from. How do Appalachian writers deal with this, particularly when dialect, foodways, and the overall culture of the Appalachian people are so often maligned while also being central to their literature?

Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Pam Duncan, Amy Greene, Crystal Wilkinson






The Place Gives Rise to the Spirit: The Impact of Place on Appalachian Writers and Writing

Appalachia is a place that gets under one’s skin, in ways both positive and negative. How do authors from the region honor the place while also tackling the problems like environmental injustice, political corruption, homophobia, racism, and other issues facing it? Erik Reece, Anne Shelby, Julia Watts, Frank X Walker



The Personal and the Political: Is Activism an Inherent Part of Writing About This Place and Its People?

Do those writing about Appalachia have an extra responsibility as writers because they are from a place that is so often a hotbed of the major issues facing our nation today? Do all writers have a responsibility to give a voice to the voiceless? Four writers who have often been parts of the political conversations in our region discuss this and more.

Dick Hague, George Ella Lyon, Frank X Walker, Denise Giardina


3.00–3.20 Book signing

Silas House, bell hooks, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Pam Duncan, Amy Greene, Erik Reece, Anne Shelby, Julia Watts, Richard Hague, George Ella Lyon, Frank X Walker, Denise Giardina, Crystal Wilkinson



Musical Interlude—Concert

One of the region’s best singer-songwriters offers us a short concert of beautifully crafted music. Caroline Herring



Country Music and Appalachian Literature

Appalachia is the birthplace of country music, so it would make sense that the genre regularly wends its way into the literature of this place. Four writers who often incorporate the complicated love affair between the region and country music offer a spirited and melodic conversation.

Silas House, Marianne Worthington, Jason Howard, Jesse Graves


4.45–5.00 Book signings (tea, coffee)

Silas House, Marianne Worthington, Jason Howard, Jesse Graves, Lee Smith, Caroline Herring, Rita Quillen, Linda Marion



Being of These Hills:

A Public Reception for an Exhibit of Photographs by Roger May

Doris Ulmann Galleries, Rogers-Traylor Art Building

Music by Sam Gleaves



Bread, Butter, and Hot Rize: The Fundamentals of Writing Poetry

Master Class in Poetry

An intensive master class in the fundamentals of writing poetry.

Linda Marion—Faber Library, Appalachian Center, Stephenson Hall



Screening of The Wilgus Stories. Three short films based on three short stories from Gurney Norman’s masterpiece, Kinfolks.

Loyal Jones Appalachian Center Gallery


Sept 10

All events in Presser Hall unless otherwise noted



The Nature of Loss: Displacement in Appalachian Literature

Appalachia is a place haunted by displacement: the removal of the Cherokees; the influx of immigrants from countries that forced them out by way of political/religious/economic strife; the legacy of slavery and the Civil War; the creation of the TVA lakes and the National Parks; being told for a century that we are a disappearing people; etc. Four writers who have written extensively about the loss of the place in a variety of ways gather to talk about this evocative topic.

Lisa Parker, Jane Hicks, Maurice Manning, George Ella Lyon



Writing the New Millennium

These four writers have recently published much-acclaimed novels about the region and are becoming true voices for the place and its people. They’ll talk about what it means to be a contemporary writer of a place so associated with the past, the challenges facing Appalachian writers in the modern publishing world, and much more.

Amy Greene, Charles Dodd White, Glenn Taylor, Robert Gipe



Book signing

Lisa Parker, Jane Hicks, Maurice Manning, George Ella Lyon, Amy Greene, Charles Dodd White, Glenn Taylor, Robert Gipe, Crystal Wilkinson, Julia Watts, Jason Howard, Paula Nelson



We’re Here: Diversity in Appalachian Lit

When most people think of Appalachia they immediately assume that everyone there is the same color, religion, and orientation. The truth is that Appalachia is a place ripe with many different ways of being. These writers will discuss the challenges of being writers from the region who challenge the commonly-held perceptions of what it means to be Appalachian while also often being thought of as The Other.

Crystal Wilkinson, Julia Watts, Jason Howard, Paula Nelson



Country Badassery: Gender Roles in Appalachian Literature

Over and over again, in literature we find that characters are often squarely defined by their gender, with societal factors determining what is “feminine” and what is “masculine.” At the same time, some writers often try to prove themselves as “gritty” while others are pigeon-holed because of their portrayals of gender. What really makes a badass? And what does that even mean? Four writers who often tackle issues of domesticity, machismo, strength, and gender expectations discuss this complex issue.

Marianne Worthington, Ron Houchin, Richard Hague



Book signing

Marianne Worthington, Ron Houchin, Richard Hague, Maurice Manning, Rita Quillen, Linda Parsons Marion



Lunch on your own

The following restaurants are within walking distance of the venue:

  • El Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant—exit Presser Hall to the left and walk one block.

All establishments below are on the Square near Boone Tavern and can be reached by exiting Presser Hall to the right and walking a couple of blocks.



Keynote Two: The Irony of Appalachian Literature

Appalachian Literature began to form an identity for the people of the region at the same time that large industry and migration were threatening the very culture. This Pulitzer Prize finalist poet offers an enlightening keynote on this irony and the way irony is not only a significant literary device in the classic works of Appalachian Literature but also a natural feature of the culture.

Maurice Manning



To Tell the Truth: Writing Creative Nonfiction in a Culture of Secrets and Polite Denial

Appalachia is arguably a place that has held onto notions of “not talking about that” and outright denial longer than the larger culture. How does this impact creative nonfiction writers who are trying to tell the essential truth about a place and its people? Some of our best nonfiction writers tackle the subject.

Erik Reece, Anne Shelby, Jason Howard, Crystal Wilkinson



Book signing

Maurice Manning, Anne Shelby, Jason Howard, Crystal Wilkinson, Linda Parsons Marion



Nuts, Bolts, and Scaffolding: Elements of Fiction

Master Class in Fiction

An intensive master class in the fundamentals of writing fiction.

Rita Quillen

(Note: Remember that while the other two Master Classes will have taken place in Stephenson Hall, this one is on the main stage at Presser Hall)



A Public Conversation Between Legends

These two friends also happen to be two of the people who have had some of the most significant impact on the culture and the literature of Appalachia. Jones and Norman close out our symposium with a rousing conversation that is sure to delight and inform.

Loyal Jones and Gurney Norman



Book signing

Gurney Norman, Loyal Jones, Rita Quillen