The Power of Place: NEH 2013 Summer Institute

Power and Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia

The Power of Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia

The James Agee Film Project and the University of North Carolina Asheville welcome your interest in our two-week NEH 2016 Summer Institute, The Power of Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia. If you are a K-12 educator, we invite you to consider joining the institute, from July 10 to July 22, at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, North Carolina.

“More is known about Appalachia that is untrue than about any other region of the country.”    
                                  Sissy Spacek in APPALACHIA: A History of Mountains and People

Our two week institute will use environmental history to examine the role of landscape in the shaping of culture and history, with the Southern Appalachians as a powerful case study. Using the experience of Appalachia, we will see how environmental history presents new questions to interrogate past events, encourages an interdisciplinary approach to the study of place, and presents an excellent opportunity for team teaching in the classroom.

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“I left the Institute thinking about what my role is as an educator in dispelling myths and re-conceptualizing what students think about the American experience.” Power of Place participant

The Appalachian Mountains are some of the oldest and most complicated geologic forms on the planet. The biological diversity and the complexity of the landscape are mirrored in the diversity and variety of cultures found there. These cultures include one of the largest tribes of Native Americans east of the Mississippi, the Eastern Band of the Cherokee as well as long-standing communities of African Americans, represented by great American intellectuals as Booker T. Washington and Henry Louis Gates. In Appalachia’s coalfields, Ukrainians and Hungarians have worked alongside Italians and Irish. It is a complicated place with a rich history.

From the beginning the vast natural resources of the mountains have played a crucial role in its story. Forests full of wildlife provided a valuable hunting ground for the earliest humans. Much later British colonists came to the same forests seeking masts for the ships of the British Navy. Commercial profits derived from its furs led to major political upheavals in Europe, triggering the Seven Years War there and the French and Indian War in America. Repeatedly in Appalachia, we see how new ways of looking at nature, along with new tools, lead to radical alterations in the landscape and the lives of its peoples.

Our NEH Institute’s Format

If you are recruited as an NEH scholar for this institute, you will become a member of a vibrant and engaged learning community. You will attend lectures by leading scholars and readings by some of the region’s most accomplished authors. You will participate in classroom discussions, analyze primary sources, complete reading assignments, watch documentary films, visit historic sites, and develop curricular materials using the materials, ideas and approaches explored in the institute.

The acclaimed PBS Series APPALACHIA: A History of Mountains and People will introduce topics and give a framework for the activities. The film series gives an incisive overview to key issues of Appalachian history as well as a model for integrating primary materials and scholarship from a variety of disciplines. 

In recent years, many outstanding studies have appeared in the field of Appalachian history that challenge the traditional notion of an isolated homogeneous Appalachian culture, and we will delve into many of these. Each week we will have several distinguished scholars lead sessions. Classroom seminars will explore topics using a variety of media and materials, including much original source material—from sixteenth century maps to farm ledgers to twentieth century films. In addition, field trips and cultural offerings will provide you with a firsthand knowledge of mountain people, landscape and culture.

Please note the deadline is March 1, 2016 and the application cover sheet must be completed online:

Please email any questions to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.