course information

Virginia Polytechnic College and State University
Introduction to Appalachian Studies
APS 1704| HUM 1704| MWF 9:05-9:55|MCB 209

Instructor: Jordan Laney
Office Hours—a specific time set aside to meet with students and discuss the class, concepts, assignments, readings, etc.— Wednesday 10:30-12:00 (Lane 314) OR by appointment.

Course Objectives: Traces the idea of Appalachia in American and world consciousness and its expression in the humanities and social sciences. Through comparison with other cultural groups, explores humanistic problems of cultural identity, race and ethnicity, globalization and place-based economic relations, and the bio-cultural impact of massive natural resource extraction.
Attendance is a very small portion of your grade; however, because this is a discussion-based course, attendance and participation are crucial. It will be difficult to pass the exams if you are not in class for the discussion. If you foresee this being a problem or issue, please email the instructor.

Principles of Community at Virginia Tech
Virginia Tech is a public land-grant university, committed to teaching and learning, research, and outreach to the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world community. Learning from the experiences that shape Virginia Tech as an institution, we acknowledge those aspects of our legacy that reflected bias and exclusion. Therefore, we adopt and practice the following principles as fundamental to our on-going efforts to increase access and inclusion and to create a community that nurtures learning and growth for all of its members:
• We affirm the inherent dignity and value of every person and strive to maintain a climate for work and learning based on mutual respect and understanding.
• We affirm the right of each person to express thoughts and opinions freely. We encourage open expression within a climate of civility, sensitivity, and mutual respect.
• We affirm the value of human diversity because it enriches our lives and the University. We acknowledge and respect our differences while affirming our common humanity.
• We reject all forms of prejudice and discrimination, including those based on age, color, disability, gender, national origin, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, and veteran status. We take individual and collective responsibility for helping to eliminate bias and discrimination and for increasing our own understanding of these issues through education, training, and interaction with others.
We pledge our collective commitment to these principles in the spirit of the Virginia Tech motto of Ut Prosim (That I May Serve).

Disabilities – If, because of a dis/ability or any other circumstance, you may require special arrangements in order to meet course requirements, you must see me within two weeks of the start of the semester. It may not be possible to honor requests for modifications made after this date.
Course texts:
It is imperative that texts are purchased the first week of class. They are available in the campus bookstore or online.
Trampoline by Robert Gipe
Trigger warnings: sex, drugs, physical and emotional abuse.
High Mountains Rising ed. Tyler Blethen & Straw
We will use High Mountains Rising as a resource throughout the semester. [HMR]

ALL assignments (except blogs) are to be turned in via Scholar. Late assignments will not be accepted.
If you are not familiar with Scholar or have problems accessing the website, please contact the instructor.

30% Blog Posts (10 required)
15% Trampoline (group project)
5% Participation (attendance, professionalism, engagement in class discussions)
40% Individualized Research
15% Annotated Bibliography
5% Confirmation of topic/query/question and annotated bibliography exercise.
10% Presentation (posted to blog) & TBA.
10% Experiential Learning (12/1)
To fulfil the requirement of experiential learning you must attend 2 approved experiential learning opportunities and complete a reflection essay. Please see the “Experiential Learning Assignment Overview” handout for details.

30% Research Presentation
The Research Presentation consists of three parts: an annotated bibliography, outline of your presentation and the presentation itself. This assignment is to broaden the scope of the course, encourage individualized learning, and better equip students to share their work with peers and the public. This is a semester long project broken down into steps to help you progress throughout your search.
5% Confirmation of topic and exercise.
A tentative and definitive topic must be confirmed as noted in the syllabus. The library session will help you decide if the topic you discussed with the instructor is too broad, too narrow, etc. It is HIGHLY advised that you meet with the instructor (around the third week of class) to discuss your topic.
You are responsible for having 3 annotations complete by the class workshop day, bringing them to class and participating.
15% Annotated Bibliography
8 annotated sources, 3-4 sentences each, MLA format.
15% Presentation.
15% Experiential Learning
Please see the experiential learning handout on Scholar for more details. You are required to seek out opportunities to learn within Appalachian communities, enjoy the cuisine while noting economic impacts, attend an educational event or experience the arts in Appalachia. Please contact the instructor if you have any questions. Because this requires 2 events of research outside of the classroom, 2 class periods have been canceled from the syllabus.

This is a different type of class. We will be studying place and identity through multiple lenses and frameworks without partiality to a discipline, but with rigorous attention to how place and identity are created—in this case, Appalachia. To clarify, we will read fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry and prose. We will deconstruct historical documents, popular culture images and music. This course is not a history of the region, but an introduction to the complexity of Appalachia and Appalachian people and cultures.
Expectations: Engage. Discuss. Challenge yourself. Participate—this course allows you to be involved in the community, actually it demands it—embrace the challenge! Apply the discussions to your own experiences and understanding of home, place, and identity. As a group of learners we are to treat our time within the classroom (MWF, 9:05-9:55) as a space for learning. As an experiential course, your individualized research and time learning “in the field” should be treated as a course “text” as well. You are expected to complete all readings.

BLOGS require us to be public, engaged intellectuals and active learners. People will read your blog.

Participants are expected to arrive on time and dedicate themselves to the learning environment. Laptops are to be used to retrieve readings or engage with course content. Being non-attentive/engaged in class will (very likely) result in low scores.

A note about writing:
College level writing assignments are to be professional, written for a public audience and proofread. It is important that you only post or turn in a piece of writing that you are proud of. MLA citation style and size 12 Times New Roman font is to be used for all course assignments. Visit the University Writing Center or make an appointment to meet with the instructor if you have any questions.

The Honor Code is the University policy which expressly forbids the following academic violations:
1. Cheating — Cheating includes the actual giving or receiving of any unauthorized aid or assistance or the actual giving or receiving of any unfair advantage on any form of academic work, or attempts thereof.
2. Plagiarism — Plagiarism includes the copying of the language, structure, programming, computer code, ideas, and/or thoughts of another and passing off the same as one’s own original work, or attempts thereof.
3. Falsification — Falsification includes the statement of any untruth, either verbally or in writing, with respect to any circumstances relevant to one’s academic work, or attempts thereof. Such acts include, but are not limited to, the forgery of official signatures; tampering with official records; fraudulently adding, deleting, or manipulating information on academic work, or fraudulently changing an examination or other academic work after the testing period or due date of the assignment.

The instructor reserves the right to change or alter the syllabus as needed. Reasons for doing so include, but are not limited to weather, class interests and major events in the region. Any changes will be announced.

The course schedule follows a historical timeline of the region, paying close attention to concepts of place and identity. We question their own understandings and experiences, as well as engage in interdisciplinary conversations about Appalachia as a place, community, and identity.

Opportunities for experiential learning are noted in the syllabus—this is in no way exhaustive of the possibilities you will encounter this semester.

1. Welcome!
Questions: Where is Appalachia and why? Who is Appalachian? If this course is “Introduction to Appalachian Studies” what does that even mean? What does that mean to various fields? What different ways of studying are involved? How does understanding a place alter our various understandings of knowledge and knowledge production?
8/22 Monday: Welcome and introductions. Who are you? Where are you from? Why are you here?
8/24 Wednesday: “The Act of Study” by Paulo Freire and “Who, What, Where, When, Why” PowerPoint (in class)
8/26 Friday: Power Mapping—an in class activity to better understand course themes of place and power. BLOG discussion in class—set up, and details.

“Peoples who do not know each other should get to know each other in a hurry, like those who are about to struggle side by side.” –Jose Marti

2. Theme: Native and Indigenous Cultures and Settlers (1540-1860)
Questions: What myths surround indigenous cultures and why? Why are the Cherokee important to Appalachia? What can we learn about land ownership and poverty through historic studies? What is the Agrarian myth and what does it imply beyond the region?
8/29 Monday “Native Americans” by Clifford Boyd [HMR] and Cherokee Accommodation and Persistence in the Southern Appalachians” by John Finger [S] Personal Objectives and Goals due by midnight.
8/31 Wednesday: “Speculators and Settler Capitalists” by Wilma Dunaway [S] 9/2 Friday Wilma Dunaway, “Appalachia and the Agrarian Myth,” The First American Frontier [S], “Slavery and African Americans in the Nineteenth Century,” by John Inscoe [HMR]

Review: Lamenting ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

3. Theme: Phantom Landscapes, Names, and Boundaries
Questions: Who is John Alexander Williams writing to and why? What are his main arguments? What ideas does his work challenge? Why?
9/5 Monday: NO CLASS
9/7 Wednesday: Ghosts, Boundaries and Names by John Alexander Williams [S].
Blog post due by midnight on Thursday (rather than Tuesday).
9/9 Friday: conclude the Williams reading.
By midnight post a tentative individualized research topic to Scholar, stating the topics and your reason for choosing it, as well as any prior knowledge you have of the topic.

4. Theme: Civil War
Questions: How does the Civil War impact the region today? What myths or false generalizations have been made about the region? What economic shifts occurred due to political actions? What is feuding? What function does it perform for the nation? The region?
9/12 Monday: “The Civil War and Reconstruction,” by Gordon McKinny [HMR] 9/14 Wednesday: You are responsible for teaching your article to a classmate who read the other one. You should be able to offer your partner key concepts, interesting facts, larger questions and current examples or applications. You should also connect the concepts to other class readings and discussions. A-H: Blee and Billings, “Where ‘Bloodshed is a Pastime,’” in Confronting Appalachian Stereotypes, pp119-137 [S]. –OR– Altina Waller, “Feuding in Appalachia,” Appalachia in the Making, pp347-376 [S].
9/16 Friday: TBA

5. Theme: Reconstruction and the Industrial Revolution
9/19 Monday: “Industrialization,” by Ron Lewis HMR
9/21 Wednesday: “Merchandising the Mountaineer by Charles Watkins (215-238) and “The Dancing Party” by Murfree. [S].
9/23 Friday: Stranger With A Camera (film)

6. Music & Mining
Questions: Is there Appalachian Music? If so, why? To what end? What is the timeline and legacy of mining in the region? How are both mining (industries) and music (the arts) globally situated? How do they serve (and disserve) local populations?
9/26 Monday: Workshop Final Projects
Bring 3 (or more) of your annotations to class, typed and printed. This is a percentage of your final annotated bibliography grade.
9/28 Wednesday: Appalachian Music [HMR] 9/30 Friday: Mine Wars

7. Theme: Poverty and Economic Structures in Appalachia

10/3 Monday: Internal Colonization by Helen Lewis [C] 10/5 Wednesday: “Modernization 1940-2000,” by Ron Eller [HMR] 10/7 Friday: Discussion: What is poverty? How is it represented? Why is it prevalent in the region? What are the ethics surrounding “assisting” those in poverty or poverty stricken areas?

8. Theme: Organizing
10/10 Monday: “We Shall Overcome” by Jeff Biggers (169-194)
10/12 Wednesday: Discuss first ____ pages in Trampoline
10/14 Friday: NO CLASS Ms. Laney presenting at Berea Celebration of Traditional Music

9. Theme: Organizing and Coal
10/17 Monday: Harlan County USA (watch in class)
10/19 Wednesday: Harlan County USA
10/21 Friday: NO CLASS. Fall break.

10. Synthesis
10/24 Monday: Review Harlan County USA

10/26 Wednesday: bring a small (plastic or glass) container to class as well as any other desired materials for the coal flower project. “Appalachian Stereotypes and Mountain Top Removal” by Jill Fraley and “OxyContin Flood in the Coalfields,” by Sue Ella Kobak [C]

10/28 Friday: Choose ONE: “To Dance with the Devil” (33-59) or “Show me Where to put my Fishing Pole” (118-141)

11. Theme: Appalachia Today
10/31 Monday: Trampoline.
11/2 Wednesday: Discuss
11/4 Friday: INDEPENDENT GROUP WORK– arrange meeting places with your group (use the classroom if needed). Be prepared to present next week.

12. Mountain Top Removal and Current Industries
11/7 Conclude Trampoline
11/9 Trampoline Groups 1, 2, 3
11/11 Groups 4, 5, 6, 7

13. Theme: Topic to be decided by the class
11/14 TBA
11/16 Music (part 2)
11/18 FOOD! Potluck/extra credit
11/19-27 Thanksgiving Holiday NO CLASS

14. Theme: Presentations
11/28 Student Presentations
11/30 Student Presentations. Experiential Learning Due.
12/2 Student Presentations

12/5 Monday: Return to Power Mapping in class. Self-evaluations due.
12/7 Wednesday: Final Day of Class. Final Projects must be posted to the blog by midnight.

Helpful Resources:

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