The largest gathering of Appalachian writers in history will happen at Berea College on September 9 and 10. The Appalachian Symposium will be two days of public conversations focusing on the current state of the region’s literature and will feature keynote addresses by famed feminist author and activist bell hooks as well as Pulitzer Prize finalist Maurice Manning.
The free two day event is being directed by Silas House, a writer and the NEH Chair of Appalachian Studies at Berea College. “The Appalachian Symposium is a gift from Berea College to the region, a chance for the public to spend time listening to their favorite writers discuss some of the most pertinent issues shaping the region right now,” House says. “Each session will be ‘front porch style,’ so that audience members feel as if they’re eavesdropping on the writers talking about these issues.”
While all sessions will focus on the contemporary state of the region’s literature, specific topics will include dialect, place, politics, religion, music, photography, displacement, the new millennium, gender roles, diversity, and much more. Besides the public conversations, three writing workshops are being offered, as well as a photography exhibit from acclaimed photographer Roger May, whose work was recently featured in The New York Times. Music from artists such as Caroline Herring and Sam Gleaves will be featured.
Writers who will be present at the Symposium include Darnell Arnoult, Pamela Duncan, Denise Giardina, Robert Gipe, Jesse Graves, Amy Greene, Richard Hague, Jane Hicks, Ron Houchin, Jason Howard, Loyal Jones, George Ella Lyon, Linda Parsons Marion, Paula Nelson, Gurney Norman, Lisa Parker, Rita Quillen, Erik Reece, Gwyn Hyman Rubio, Anne Shelby, Glenn Taylor, Frank X Walker, Julia Watts, Charles Dodd White, Crystal Wilkinson, and Marianne Worthington.
The event is open to the public and no registration is required. All events except the photo exhibit and workshops will happen in Presser Hall on the campus of Berea College. For more information and a complete schedule of sessions please go to www.berea.edu/appalachian-center/as15 or look for The Appalachian Symposium on Facebook at www.facebook.com/theappalachiansymposium.
Berea, the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, focuses on learning, labor, and service. Berea admits only academically promising students, primarily from Appalachia, who have limited economic resources. No student is charged tuition. As part of their educational experience, all students must work at least 10 hours weekly, earning money for books, room and board. Repeatedly ranked for excellence in academics and service learning, Berea’s graduates go on to distinguish themselves and the College in many fields, living out the College’s scriptural motto “God has made of one blood all peoples of the earth (Acts 17:26).”