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Appalachian Studies: Literature

English 3200, Appalachian Literature

Welcome! We'll be reading a variety of texts  from Appalachia and studying the culture that produced them at the same time. Writing can't exist independently of culture, and, I believe, a culture can't long exist without its writings.


Dr. Crisp, aged about 18 months, on the porch with her great-grandparents near the coal mines in Brilliant, Alabama


Course outline

Course outline, ENGL 3200

Page numbers are from Writing Applalachia: An Anthology Ed. Ledford and Lloyd, UP of Kentucky, 2020; texts from other sources indicated with **


  • **"Heritage" by James Still
  • “Introduction” p xvii


  • Part 1: Early Appalachian Literature pp 1-2
    1. ”Cherokee Narrative pp 3-10
    2. Thomas Jefferson “Notes on the State of Virginia” pp 10-14
    3. ”Whupping a Catamount” from the Crockett Almanac pp 43-45
  • Part II: Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction pp45-46
    1. Elihu Embree, from The Emancipator pp. 47-50
    2. Rebecca Harding Davis, “The Yares of the Black Mountains: A True Story” pp 72-86
    3. Booker T. Washington, introduction to Up From Slavery, p 87. If you’ve never read any Washington, recommend you read a few pages of the main text; it’s important stuff for context both inside and outside Appalachia.


  • **Scholarly article to read: “Language”  by Michael Montgomery, excerpted on his website from the Encyclopedia of Appalachia
  • **Popular interest article: “A push to restore pride in the way Appalachians speak
  • Short story: from "The Star in the Valley." Pp 103-111
  • Short story: "Parson John Bullen’s Lizards." Pp 97-103  This is a yarn and would also fit the "folkways" unit. It's the heaviest dialect of the works we will read this semester; although it's the length of a short story, plan to read it several times to make sense of it. If you are from the South, you may find it helps to read passages out loud. It's very funny once you figure out what it's saying - some of the dialect is exaggerated for effect.
  • Poems: “Raven Light” by Dianne Gilliam Fisher pp 502-509; “Appalachian Studies: by Anne Shelby pp 520-521; “That Durned Ole Via Negativa” by Maurice Manning pp 523-524


  • Part V: Appalachian Folklore pp195-196
    1. “A Constellation of Folk Narratives” pp 197-198; “Mat Layson” by Jim Couch pp 201-202; “Grandma Hess’s Story About Jack, Bill, and Tom ” told by Bonelyn Lugg Kyofski pp202-208
    2. “A Constellation of Folk Songs” and all associated songs, pp 212-222
    3. "Aunt Arie" chapter from The Foxfire Book.


  1. Part IV: Prose, Poetry, and Songs of Labor pp 163-164
    1. From the Autobiography of Mother Jones, pp 168-172
    2. Excerpt from Harlan Miners Speak pp173-175
    3. Protest Songs from the Textile Mills and Coalfields pp 176-180
    4. Muriel Rukeyser, “Absalom” pp181-183
    5. Poems by Don West, 184-186
    6. “Out of This Furnace” by Thomas Bell pp 187-193


  1. Part VI: Modernism in Appalachian Literature pp 223-224
    1. Works by James Still pp 241-247
    2. Wilma Dyleman, from Return to the Innocent Earth pp 285-297
  2. Part VII: The Appalachian Renaissance pp 297-298
    1. Poems by Marilou Awiakta pp 29-302
    2. Poems by Don Johnson pp311-314
    3. Poems by Lynn Powell pp 323-325 (from Chattanooga)
    4. Excerpt from Kinflicks bt Lisa Alther pp351-359
    5. “Folk Art by Lee Smith pp 372-378
    6. Excerpt from With a Hammer For my Heart by George Ella Lyon pp 405-412
    7. Excerpt from Appalachian Values by Loyal Jones pp 439-442
  3. Part VIII: Twenty-first Century Appalachian Literature
    1. Demon Copperhead, a novel by Barbara Kingsolver. Winner of the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the 2023 Women's Prize for Fiction
    2. Poems by Frank X Walker pp 492-497
    3. Poems by Ricardo Nazario y Colón pp 528-530
    4. “Tipping the Scales” by Crystal Wilkinson pp 539-547
    5. “Nice” by Dorothy Allison pp 548-552
    6. “Recruiters by Silas House pp 592-602
    7. “On Reflection and Lamentation” by bell hooks pp 708-712



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Jenny Crisp
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