Acclaimed Appalachian author, Silas House, has been appointed interim director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College and associate professor of Appalachian studies. He replaces Dr. Chad Berry, who recently was appointed the college’s academic vice president and dean of the faculty.
“I am incredibly honored to be trusted with this position at a center named for a true Appalachian scholar and hero,” says House. “Dr. Berry helped to make the Appalachian Center at Berea one of the essential lifelines–if not the very heart–of Appalachian Studies–and I’m excited about what the next year holds.”
House, a native of Lily, Kentucky, in Laurel County, previously served as the National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea since 2010. Best known as an award-winning author of four best-selling novels: “Clay’s Quilt” (2001), “A Parchment of Leaves” (2003), “The Coal Tattoo” (2004) and “Eli the Good” (2009), House has earned many literary awards, including the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, the Lee Smith Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, and the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
In addition to his writing awards, House received the 2008 Helen Lewis Community Service Award from the Appalachian Studies Association for his environmental activism and a 2010 Intellectual Freedom Award from the National Council of English Teachers for his work in social justice causes. His writing on social justice issues has been widely published in places such as The New York Times and Newsday and led Ace Magazine to call him “Kentucky’s folk hero.” In 2011 he was a finalist for the prestigious Roosevelt-Ashe Award as Outstanding Journalist in Conservation.
House received his Bachelor’s degree in English literature at Eastern Kentucky University in 1994 and went onto receive his Master’s degree in creative writing at Spalding University in 2004. He has served on the faculty of the master’s of fine arts program at Spalding since 2006, where he continues to teach fiction. He is the father of two daughters and lives in Berea.
“I am delighted that someone with such national stature as a writer and spokesperson for Appalachia will serve as the director of the Berea College Appalachian center,” said Larry Shinn, Berea College president. “Silas House is a creator of both poetry and literature that represents the best of Appalachia while also being a consummate teacher of the same ideas. I know Silas will expand his role as a teacher to continue the Appalachian Center’s outreach into the region, for which Chad Berry has laid such a superb foundation.”
Berea’s Appalachian Center – the first in the country – was established in 1970 and was renamed in 2009 in honor of its first director, Loyal Jones, ‘54, who served in that capacity for 23 years. Known as “Mr. Appalachia,” Jones was instrumental in the growth of Appalachian studies and raised awareness of the strengths and needs of the Southern Highlands region and its people.
Watch Silas House’s video interview on “Head of the Holler”- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vfF7rpHOZw&feature=player_embedded