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The Appalachian Studies Association was formed in 1977 by a group of scholars, teachers, and regional activists who believed that shared community has been and will continue to be important to those writing, researching, and teaching about Appalachia.

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The ASA is headquartered at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Mary Thomas, Executive Director, and Christopher Leadingham, Office Manager, can be reached via email at and, respectively.

Telephone: (304) 696-2904
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39th ASA Annual Conference

Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, a New Appalachia

March 18-20, 2016

Shepherd University,
Shepherdstown, West Virginia

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39th Annual ASA Conference

Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, a New Appalachia
March 18-20, 2016

Shepherd University
Shepherdstown, West Virginia


Sylvia Bailey Shurbutt, Conference Chair and Local Arrangements Chair
304.876.3119 or 304.876.5207

Rachael Meads, Program Chair

We invite participation in the 39th annual Appalachian Studies Conference organized by the Appalachian Studies Association. This year’s theme is “Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, a New Appalachia.” We especially invite presentations that focus on the changing face of the region; the diverse groups that constitute who we are; the educational and community institutions that either accommodate or react to the changes that challenge us and call for our best selves; and the grass-roots efforts to protect the very mountains that are the principal source of our commonality and identity.

Formats might include: individual scholarly research papers and sessions; formed sessions; poster sessions presenting scholarly research OR documenting community work; panels and community presentations; performance or sharing of films, documentaries, videos, poetry, music, plays, art, and writing; roundtable conversations on contemporary issues, e.g. activism in the region; professional development, or a newcomer’s orientation to Appalachian studies.

The 2016 Call for Participation is now available. Proposals may be submitted via Marshall Digital Scholar beginning September 1 through October 15, 2015.

Research in Action

Submit to the Journal of Appalachian Studies

The Journal is always accepting manuscript submissions for consideration. The JAS welcomes any serious scholarship on Appalachia, the region, or its people. Anyone interested in submitting should refer to the submission guidelines and requirements. >> Read more

ASA in Classroom

Updated K-12 Educational Resources

Bring the study of Appalachian topics and perspectives into your K-12 Classroom with our updated list of resources. >> More

Volunteer with the ASA

The ASA needs you! Why? Because the ASA depends on volunteers who donate their time and effort to run the organization, publish the JAS, and plan the annual conference. Check out our ASA Volunteer Form to see how you can help! >> Read more

Spring Newsletter Now Available!

The spring 2013 issue of Appalink is now available online. Check it out by clicking here. >> Read more

ASA Video

In case you missed the Thirty-Seventh Annual ASA Conference in Huntington, WV, March 28-30, 2014, live stream video of the keynote address and two of the plenaries are available at the links below.

Keynote Address: “Our Secret Places in the Waiting World: Becoming a New Appalachia” by Silas House

Plenary I: “Me? An Appalachian Stereotype? I Thought my Stories Worked Against That” by Adam Booth and Rebecca Hill

Plenary II: “Appalachian Women, A Herstory of Oppression and Resistance” by Sue Massek

News and Announcements

2016 Conference Scholarship Applications

The ASA provides scholarships to those unable to attend the annual conference because of financial reasons. We truly love funding people. It is part of our mission. In the past we have been able to fund most of those who have requested a scholarship. Our funds are limited so we continue to prioritize our scholarships according to those with the most need. This year, we envision the same process.

The deadline is February 18, 2016.

Click here to go to the 2016 Conference Scholarship Application Form.

ASA Seeks Nominations for Stephen L. Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching

This is a friendly reminder to send your nominations (including self-nominations) for the Appalachian Studies Association’s Stephen L. Fisher Award for Excellence in Teaching to Theresa Burriss at Please note that this year we will provide two awards, one for a postsecondary educator and one for a K-12 educator.

We now have a two-step process to lessen the burden and encourage more nominations. The preliminary nominations will be due December 1 to me at You can download the preliminary nomination form from the ASA Awards page but you can also access it here: Preliminary Nomination Form.

After the Education Committee reviews all preliminary nominations, we will send invitations for full nomination packets, which are due January 31.

For additional information please see the awards page. If you have any questions, please email me at

Theresa L. Burriss, Ph.D.
Chair, Appalachian Studies
Director, Appalachian Regional and Rural Studies Center

Five area writers to be inducted into East TN Writers Hall of Fame

Friends of Literacy will induct five writers into the East TN Writers Hall of Fame on October 22nd, 2015. Friends of Literacy realizes how important authors’ contributions are to our culture and history, and for the 12th year, we wish to honor those who entertain, inspire, and inform us through the written word. This year’s inductees are Lifetime Achievement: Georgiana Vines, journalist with more than 50 years of experience, Fiction: Amy Greene, recipient of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, Non-fiction: Vince Staten author of 13 books- including three published by HarperCollins Books, Poetry: Jesse Graves, award winning Appalachian Poet, and Social Media: Alan Sims known as the Knoxville Urban Guy.

The event will take place on Thursday, October 22nd at 11:30 a.m. at the Lighthouse Knoxville. Tickets are $100 and include a three course lunch and time to meet one-on-one with the authors and get books signed. Tickets are available by calling 865-549-7007 or online at

One in 10 adults in Knox County lacks a GED or high school diploma and one in 12 adults are unable to read or write above a sixth grade level. Friends of Literacy supports the delivery of free high quality literacy and adult education classes in Knox County for adults who are inadequately educated for the challenges of daily life. Working in partnership with area adult education providers, our goal is to help provide free basic adult education classes so that our students become better workers, parents, and citizens. Funds raised at the event support this goal.

Amy Greene is author of the New York Times bestselling novel Bloodroot, named a “Must Read” by Entertainment Weekly and one of the Top 10 Novels of 2010 by Booklist, Kirkus Reviews and Amazon. Her second novel, Long Man, was named a Best Book of the Year by the Washington Post and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and won the 2014 Willie Morris Award. Both novels were New York Times Editors’ Choice picks. In 2010 Greene won the Weatherford Award for Fiction from the Appalachian Studies Association, was a finalist for the Southern Book Award, and was named Tennessee Writer of the Year by the Tennessee Writers Alliance. Her articles and op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, Glamour magazine and BookPage, among other publications.

Jesse Graves grew up in Sharps Chapel, Tennessee, about 40 miles north of Knoxville, in a community his ancestors settled in the 1780s. He is an Associate Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at East Tennessee State University, where he won the 2012 New Faculty Award from the College of Arts & Sciences. His first poetry collection, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, won the 2011 Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College and the Appalachian Studies Association, as well as a Book of the Year Award from the Appalachian Writers’ Association. He was given the 2013 Thomas and Lillie D. Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. His second collection of poems, Basin Ghosts, also won the 2014 Weatherford Award in Poetry, making him the first poet to win the award more than one time. His poems have appeared in such journals as Prairie Schooner, Southern Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, and in the Poem of the Week feature for Missouri Review. He is editor of several volumes of poetry and scholarship, including three volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology (Contemporary Appalachia, Tennessee, and North Carolina), Jeff Daniel Marion: Poet on the Holston, and the forthcoming Complete Poems of James Agee (University of Tennessee Press, 2017). Graves was awarded the 2014 Philip H. Freund Prize for Creative Writing from Cornell University, and the 2015 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Conference Highlights

"Voices from the Misty Mountains: Diversity and Unity, A New Appalachia." That is the theme of the Thirty-Ninth Annual Appalachian Studies Conference, March 18-20, 2016. The conference will be held high above the banks of the Potomac River in Shepherdstown, West Virginia on the campus of Shepherd University. Nestled but a stone’s throw from Antietam Battlefield, Harpers Ferry, Storer College, historic Martinsburg, and more, Shepherdstown is poised to offer attendees a unique experience that builds upon not only the cultural and historic richness of the area, but that of the Appalachian region itself. The Appalachian Studies Association prides itself on the inclusiveness and interdisciplinary content of its conferences and the 2016 theme allows for an in-depth look at the most pressing problems that face the region—issues that both unite and divide us.

Frank X Walker will deliver the conference keynote address on Friday, March 18 in the Shepherd University Frank Center Theater. Walker, a native Kentuckian and graduate of the University of Kentucky, holds an MFA in writing from Spalding University and was named Poet Laureate of Kentucky in 2013—the youngest and first African American to hold the position. Walker cofounded Message Theater and the Affrilachian Poets and was named one of "the most creative teachers in the South" by the Oxford American: The Southern Magazine of Good Writing. His creation of the word “Affrilachia” is included in the Oxford American Dictionary. Walker has lectured, conducted workshops, and read poetry at over 400 national conferences and universities across the globe. Walker’s keynote address, entitled “Escape from Negro Mountain: Writing History, Righting Wrongs,” will utilize stories and literature to shed light on the diversity of Appalachia. Frank X Walker will participate in a number of conference events in addition to the keynote. Special Plenary VII will feature Walker and the Affrilachian Poets in “Affrilachian Voices: A Reading by Affrilachian Poets.” Poets participating in the event alongside Walker include Kelly Norman Ellis, Ricardo Nazario y Colon, Bianca Spriggs, and others. The plenary session is free and open to the public and will take place Saturday in Shepherd University’s Erma Ora Byrd Hall.

Other special plenaries will feature the Cherokee voice of Lloyd Arneach, who will open the conference with a traditional Cherokee blessing and share stories from Appalachia’s indigenous peoples; the storytelling voice of West Virginia’s Adam Booth; reflections on folklore from John Lilly, former editor of Goldenseal magazine; the extraordinary vision of photographer Builder Levy; and finally the cultural and multicultural ethnographic intersections of Appalachian clogging and African-American dance as explored by dance scholars Matthew Olwell, Becky Hill, and Emily Oleson.

Please see the preliminary conference schedule in early 2016 for a full listing of events.

A Conversation with Photographer Builder Levy

Click here to listen to an interview with Builder Levy, which originally aired on Inside Appalachia, West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

A selection of Builder Levy’s work will be exhibited at the upcoming conference in Shepherdstown.

2016 Conference Call for Participation

Click here to download the Call for Participation for the 39th Annual ASA Conference, to be held March 18-20 at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

New Gates-Carawan Artist Award

The Gates-Carawan Artist Award recognizes an individual for artistic potential or artistic contributions to Appalachia in the realms of visual, oral, musical, literary, or other arts. With this award, the ASA seeks to recognize and cultivate artists who are working in the spirit of the award's namesakes, independent filmmaker Bob Gates and activist musicians Guy and Candie Carawan—socially conscious artists who supported and encouraged the work of other regional artists.

The winner will receive a physical award produced by a regional artist and either a $500 stipend (for artistic contributions) or the guidance of a mentor (for artistic potential). Nominations may come from any ASA member. Nominators of a winning candidate with artistic potential will be strongly encouraged to develop a mentoring plan with the winning artist.

Nominations may come from any ASA member. Submission requirements are detailed on the awards page. Send nomination materials to Scott Goebel, Gates-Carawan Artist Award Selection Committee Chair,, by December 1.

Summer 2015 Y'ALL newsletter

Check out Y'ALL's Summer 2015 newsletter to find out about Y'ALL opportunities.

Updated 2015 ASA Handbook

View the updated ASA Handbook for 2015 as a PDF (2.7 MB) or Word document (953 KB).

More news and announcements »