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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
Fax: (304) 696-6221
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    Appalachian Studies Association
    One John Marshall Drive
    Huntington, WV 25755

39th ASA Annual Conference

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

March 18-20, 2016

Shepherd University,
Shepherdstown, West Virginia

Learn more


39th Annual Appalachian Studies Conference

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

ASA Conference Rates

Individual ASA Conference Registration$150.00
($175 after March 2)
Student ASA Conference Registration$100.00
($125 after March 2)

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.

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.

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.

2016 Call for Participation

PDF (784K)

Proposal Submission Form

Proposals may be submitted via Marshall Digital Scholar beginning September 1 through October 15, 2015. Individuals named in accepted proposals are not automatically registered for the conference. ALL conference attendees must register and pay the conference registration fee prior to attending the conference.

2016 Conference Registration

Conference registration is handled by the University of Illinois Press. Please visit: to register for the 2016 conference. You may also pay by check by completing the registration form and mailing along with payment to:
        Journals Division
        University of Illinois Press
        1325 South Oak Street
        Champaign, IL 61820
Please make checks payable to the Appalachian Studies Association. Do not email credit card orders.

Past Conferences

2015 – Johnson City, Tennessee
East Tennessee State University
March 27-29
Many Mountains, Many Musics

2014 – Huntington, West Virginia
Marshall University
March 28-30
New Appalachia: Known Realities and Imagined Possibilities

2013 – Boone, North Carolina
Appalachian State University
March 22-24
Communities in Action, Landscapes in Change

2012 – Indiana, Pennsylvania
Indiana University of Pennsylvania
March 23-25
The Wide Reach of Appalachia

Other past conferences