Welcome!

Welcome! We’d like to invite you to share your research, paper, and/or relevant articles including your personal journey and stories that pertain to the region.

While Ohio State does not have an Appalachian Studies program at this time, our goal is to be able to connect faculty, staff and students with each other to learn about the work each of us are doing in the area. If you’d like to serve as a guest blogger, please contact me at elliott.255@osu.edu for access.

Thanks for your interest in our project!

Photo of Mead Paper factory from lookout point in Chillicothe, Ohio.

Photo of Mead Paper factory from lookout point in Chillicothe, Ohio. Photo courtesy of Lynaya Elliott

OSU Students Head to Jackson and Gallia Counties

During Spring Semester, three students and one staff member from Community of Appalachian Student Leaders visited Gallia Academy in Gallipolis and Oak Hill High School.

The student panels met with sophomores, juniors, and seniors and gave a very thorough overview from the application process to adjusting to Columbus metro to learning new academic approaches. The high school students had a lot to ask and were appreciative of our panelists who answered with thoughtful and helpful guidance.

It was clear that the participants enjoyed hearing about these undergraduate journeys from their home counties to OSU and they were enthusiastic about thinking about becoming a future Buckeye!

It was also so fun to learn about the personal connection and history of the region on the way down! A special thank you to Alex Brumfield, Amber Gilliland, and Kasey Arrowood for planning this fulfilling event.

“A Dose of Home” Digital Story

During Autumn 2015, Dr. Cassie Patterson led an independent study class and developed a digital story showcasing Malachi (Ki) Pulliam’s relationship to his home in Bainbridge, Ohio.

You can learn more about the class and project here.

If you are an Ohio State Student and would be interested in creating a digital story about your home, email Laura Thomas at thomas.19@osu.edu.

How “having an accent” works

Kathryn Campbell-Kibler

My last post talked about accent discrimination and how it impacts people’s lives. In the US, “having an accent” vs. “not having an accent” is a strange but powerful set of ideas that are based on beliefs about people, not about anything measurable or objective in speech. A lot of my research is about how “having an accent” works.

In a recent study, I played voices to listeners and asked how accented they sounded. The same listeners also reported how accented they thought different places in Ohio were, generally speaking.

We wanted to know whether people who thought a place was accented (they “believe” more in that accent) gave ratings that were more dependent on specific acoustic features found there (they “hear” the accent). We found that accent “believers” also gave actual voices high accent ratings, regardless of pronunciation. Some people just think there are a lot of accents out there! But mostly if someone thought that, for example, rural Ohio has a strong accent, they weren’t more sensitive to the specific way that someone pronounces the vowel in “shoes”, which can be different for some speakers in rural Ohio vs. urban or suburban Ohio.

The two exceptions, where “accent believing” people were a little more sensitive, were the two features that people sometimes talk about and have names for: how northern Ohioans sometimes say the vowel in “cat” differently than central Ohioans (people might talk about “Cleveland a’s” or say “Akron” in a distinctive way to refer to it). People who thought northern Ohio has an accent seemed to be a little more sensitive to this pronunciation than others. The other exception was the pin-pen merger, found in many rural parts of Ohio and also throughout the US South and its diaspora areas. Someone with this feature pronounces words like pin and tin and words like pen and ten so that they sound the same. We found that people who thought rural and southern Ohio have an accent seemed more sensitive to this pronunciation.

We learned from our study that mostly the idea of an accent (like thinking southern Ohio is a place where people have accents) isn’t associated with having a “good ear” for accents. Only features that are themselves talked show any link between the two, and it’s very small. That suggests that thinking someone else has an accent is less about hearing them talk, and more about how you’ve heard them talked about.


Kathryn Campbell-Kibler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics who work focuses on sociolinguistics and whose interests include language variation, with an emphasis on the role of the listener in variation; language and sexuality; language and the construction of masculinity; and the role of language in the formation and performance of identity.


 

Care and Caring: It’s an Appalachian Thing

Kay Halasek

Care. This is the sentiment I recall most clearly, the memory most palpable to me as I reflect on my years living in Flatwoods, Kentucky, and the now nearly forty years my mother has continued to live there since I left to go to college in Georgetown, Kentucky, and later graduate school in Arizona and Texas. Such a memory of care, philosopher Nel Noddings tells us, is integral to the ethic of care that springs from “natural caring,” those acts motivated not by duty but by a desire to “act on behalf of the other because we want to do so” (“An Ethic” 699).

I found my sentiments about the care that permeates and defines relationships in Appalachia echoed by Kendall Bilbrey, a native of Wytheville, Virginia, who is quoted in the “Millenials Return” page on the “Saving Appalachia” website: “‘The people I met [when in college in the greater Washington DC area] didn’t have the same sense of caring and support and neighborliness that people back home did’ Bilbrey said. ‘I never thought of that as an Appalachian thing.’” Like Bilbrey, I never thought of the sense of caring I experienced in Flatwoods as a teenager as “an Appalachian thing,” either. It was just how people were. It is, though, I’ve come to realize, decidedly and perhaps uniquely an “Appalachian thing.”

aroundrussell-flatwoods.com

aroundrussell-flatwoods.com

Flatwoods—a town of about 7500 residents located just to the north and west of Ashland—is more affluent than most comparably sized Appalachian towns such as Pikeville, due in part, I imagine, to its proximity to the Ohio River and affiliations with historically strong regional steel, coal, petroleum, and railroad industries. But like Pikeville and other smaller towns in eastern Kentucky, Flatwoods (and neighboring Russell) is a community whose citizens are actively involved in their churches and volunteer organizations. It has its share of evangelical and Pentecostal churches as well as mainline Christian denominations and a growing LDS community. The churches—along with area social service agencies and organizations—collectively comprise a network of what Noddings terms communities of care (“Language” 54), institutions that support “carers” (those who give care).

I was reminded of my own deep personal connections with Flatwoods and Noddings’ concept of an ethic of caring this past June when my mother suffered a stroke. At the hospital and rehab facility, she was in the hands of professionals (many of whom are natives of the area) who embodied Noddings’ concepts of receptivity and relatedness, who enacted caring as a relationship through their attentiveness to her (“Language” 53), not simply as an obligation imposed on them by their professions. Although by early August my mother was back in her own home and by the end of the year driving again, the stroke had put her in the hospital for several days and then in rehabilitative care for nearly eight weeks. During my mother’s hospital stay, my family and I were able to be with her, but as the summer progressed, our visits to her at the rehab center were limited to only three or four days each week. And after her return home in August and the start of the fall semester at OSU, our trips became even less frequent and limited to a couple of days (at most) on occasional weekends.

Although our trips became less frequent, the attentions of my mother’s neighbors and friends were unfaltering. Karmen and Jim had her over for dinners. Doug still puts her paper inside her storm door each morning and takes her trash to and from the street each week. Denny plows her driveway—as he has for years. Roger and Toni bring over soup and help with home repairs—and Roger built the ramps that lead to her front door. Peggy and Leon (backdoor neighbors from the 1970s and 80s) bring in Meals on Wheels. She is surrounded by care and carers. These folks’ gestures of care are second nature, common (in the sense of familiar and ordinary), done without flourish. They’re not instances of “paying it forward.” They do not anticipate return or repayment. Caring is not a contractual exchange or transaction. These folks are not stockpiling good works against some anticipated future drought or meager harvest, times when they may be in need. They simply tend to others.

I do not myself conduct research in Appalachian studies, but Noddings provides me a means through which to reflect with my own sense of care on my life and relationships and those of my mother. Noddings’ concepts of natural caring and an ethic of caring provide me the means through which to characterize just one element of this Appalachian community and her people.

My mother, Erma Halasek Slavens

Kay Halasek

Kay Halasek

 


Kay Halasek is an Associate Professor in the Department of English whose research specializations are rhetoric, composition and literacy. 


 

References

City-Data.com. Advameg, Inc., 2016. Web.

Noddings, Nel. “An Ethic of Caring.” Reprinted in Ethical Theory: An Anthology. 2nd ed. Russ Shafer-Landau, ed. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. 2013: 699-712.

Noddings, Nel. Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics and Moral Education. 2nd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Print.

Noddings, Nel. “The Language of Care Ethics.” Knowledge Quest 40.4 (2012): 52-6. Print.

Weisser, Ryan. “Saving Appalachia.” Medium.com. 17 March 2016. Web. https://medium.com/@Ryan_Weisser/saving-appalachia-d96b168357d#.lh2gb7dgq.

Barbara Kopple Visits OSU

Our community in the Appalachian Project is still buzzing from our inspiring visit by the two-time Academy Award-winning filmmaker, Barbara Kopple, after her visit to OSU’s Columbus campus this week.

Several groups partnered with us to host a special screening of Harlan County USA to a packed audience in the Wexner Center’s Film/Video theater on Wednesday, March 2. The crowd enjoyed the musical accompaniment by David Morris, who provided some of the original music for the documentary, along with his son Jack Ballangee Morris, which included the classics such as “Which Side Are You On?”, “Coal Tattoo” and “Dark as a Dungeon”. We also had a special sneak preview of Jack’s new song, “West Virginia Refugee.” Kopple screened her film and then engaged the audience in a Q&A session. During the discussion, people asked about what Harlan County is like today (especially the role that coal plays in their economy), how the UMWA was faring, and how making the film impacted Kopple’s life and art. A number of audience members were from the region, related to coal miners, or were labor activists and scholars from the community and university.

On Thursday, graduate and undergraduate students engaged Kopple on all aspects of documentary filmmaking, including individual advice about getting their own projects in motion. Students also had the opportunity to view her latest documentary film, Shelterwhich tells the story of military veteran homelessness.

If you were unable to join us for the event, don’t worry! Video from the event will be housed in The Appalachian Project Collection at the Center for Folklore Studies Archives.

David Morris and Jack Ballengee Morris perform before the screening.

David Morris and Jack Ballengee Morris perform to a packed house before the screening.

David Morris, Christine Bellengee Morris, American Indian Studies Program Director and Faculty in Arts Admin, Educaiton and Policy, and Matt Schneider

David Morris, Christine Bellengee Morris, American Indian Studies Program Director and Faculty in Arts Admin, Educaiton and Policy, and Matt Schneider

L to R: David Morris, Matt Schneider, Appalachian Project Student with Barbara Kopple

L to R: David Morris, Matt Schneider, Appalachian Project Student with Barbara Kopple

L to R: Lynaya Elliott, Appalachian Project Member, David Morris, Barbara Kopple

L to R: Lynaya Elliott, Appalachian Project co-facilitator, David Morris, Barbara Kopple

A special thank you to our sponsors for the event:

This event was organized by The Appalachian Project, Ohio (a collaboration between the Center for Folklore Studies, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Student Life’s Department of Social Change), and co-sponsored by the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy; American Indian Studies; Wexner Center for the Arts; Comparative Studies; Film Studies; the Department of English; the Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise; and the School of Environment and Natural Resources.

There’s no right way to talk

Kathryn Campbell-Kibler

Group discussion at Appalachian Project meeting.

Group discussion at Appalachian Project meeting.

Accents or dialects are one of the most important ways that people signal belonging to a place or a community. For some people, though, including many from Appalachia, these marks of belonging can also prompt unfair judgements from others about everything the speaker’s intelligence to their personality.

Language bias is often treated differently than other kinds of discrimination. Many people who pride themselves on their open-mindedness make an exception for language, calling themselves the “grammar police” or bragging about their “language pet peeves”. The idea one often gets is that disliking how someone else talks is a good thing because it shows knowledge or education.

The reality is that there’s no objective right way to talk. More than that, judgements about “incorrect” language forms can’t be separated from bias about the people who use those forms, because that’s where they come from. Language researchers have have lots of evidence that the speech you like best (or least!) comes from your opinions of speakers, or from years and years of other people’s opinions building up. Some work has even suggested that what you think about a person can influence how you hear their speech. For example, Donald Rubin and his colleagues have shown that a face (Asian-appearing or white-appearing) can change how students hear a lecture. Students seeing the Asian-appearing face not only thought they heard an accent that wasn’t there, they understood less because of the accent that wasn’t there!

In the US, people who grow up in communities where many people use speech called “uneducated” or “incorrect” may follow a few different paths. They may speak the ways they hear around them because they don’t interact with “correct” speakers often enough to fully pick up their patterns. Some people who do have that access may stick to their communities’ way of talking on purpose, rejecting the negative label put on their speech by others. This can invoke costs, like not getting a job or being targeted for jokes or criticism. Others may shift to higher-prestige ways of talking, consciously or unconsciously adapting to the pressure. Some will develop two “voices”, allowing them to code-switch as needed. Learning to code-switch sometimes develops easily and naturally, and sometimes takes a lot of work, depending on the individual and their experiences.

All of these responses are understandable, and we can’t really say which one is right or wrong for a given person. But we can say that one thing is wrong: the idea that the speech found in Appalachia is inherently incorrect, lazy or uneducated. It’s just not accurate, and it hurts people.

Some linguists have been working to support speakers from marginalized communities learn more about their speech and push back against stigma. Check out these resources for more information:

dialects.english.wvu.edu/

ncsu.edu/linguistics/ncllp/

africanamericanenglish.com/


Kathryn Campbell-Kibler is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics who work focuses on sociolinguistics and whose interests include language variation, with an emphasis on the role of the listener in variation; language and sexuality; language and the construction of masculinity; and the role of language in the formation and performance of identity.


 

References

[1] D. L. Rubin. Nonlanguage factors affecting undergraduates’ judgments of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants. Research in Higher Education, 33(4):511–531, 1992.

[2] D. L. Rubin and K. A. Smith. Effects of accent, ethnicity and lecture topic on undergraduates’ percep- tions of nonnative English-speaking teaching assistants. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 14:337–353, 1990.

Dangers of “damage-centered” research

Lynaya Elliott

When you think of Appalachian stereotypes in the media, it’s not surprising that those outside the region may point to images of boarded-up store fronts, aerial views of dented mobile homes, and rusty automobiles. Last year, The Guardian published a four-part series, America’s poorest white town: abandoned by coal, swallowed by drugs, one of which focuses on high rates of obesity, drug addiction, and post-coal economic devastation in Beattyville, Kentucky. Area spotlights like these often do so with the goal of shedding light on economically-depressed areas in order to leverage resources for these communities. However, what toll does it take on a community when the national spotlight portrays it as damaged? It’s not news to me that my hometown faces economic challenges or that my community is struggling with the grip of opiates on our loved ones, but that isn’t all that comes to mind when I think of home.

For Appalachian communities, we’re no stranger to these stereotypes of poverty in the media beginning with the hordes of journalists that flooded the hollers of Eastern Kentucky in 1964 when President Johnson used the region as a high profile symbol to gain support for his War on Poverty. Images of rickety shacks, coal-dust covered faces of miners, and barely-dressed children flashed on television screens across America.

President Johnson on his 1964 poverty tour. (Cecil Saughton/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

President Johnson on his 1964 poverty tour. (Cecil Saughton/Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

What does it mean when our communities have no control over how our stories are told and what images are used to convey them?

In 2009, Eve Tuck, Assistant Professor of Educational Studies at State University of New York published an open letter for communities, researchers and educators to consider long-term results of “damage-centered” research. Speaking of her own Native community in Alaska, she explores the effects on a people when we begin to “think of ourselves as broken”. She takes on the ethics of research and cautions those who do work in disenfranchised communities to reconsider the effect their roles have on these groups. (Tuck, p.422). Referencing communities of color, indigenous people, and those living in poverty, she distinguishes that while research may addresses the social and historical factors that shaped this disparity, without the context of colonization and racism at the forefront, “all we’re left with is the damage”. Tuck suggests that through a framework of desire, communities can recognize our sovereignty and cultivate the vision and wisdom of our communities for a collective movement forward implying damage-centered research stalls progress (Tuck, p. 417)

Rewriting the narrative about Appalachia is not an easy job. We must rethink our roles in research especially when we grapple with the insider/outsider effect and attempt to find solutions for it. We must ask what steps can we can take to ensure a mutually-beneficial goal for both the research and the community it hopes to serve? How can we better work with experts from within the communities to shape the questions we ask? What effects will the data have on our subjects?

But part of rewriting the narrative is letting our communities speak for themselves. We must support the work of people like Roger May, a native of West Virginia, whose work Looking at Appalachia focuses on redefining the images of the region. He accepts submissions from people in the Appalachian region and collectively exhibits these works to portray, more accurately, the cultural richness and complexity that can be found in our home counties.

Tuck’s letter was especially empowering for me to reiterate the importance of increased involvement of Appalachian students and faculty in higher education including leading those research efforts in our own communities. Our complex lives are ones of both damage and desire and who better to tell the story than those of us who have climbed these hills?

Brien Vincent. 6/18/2014. Rural Action Watershed Restoration AmeriCorps member Rand Romas leads a pond study as part of the KEEN summer camp at Lake Hope State Park near McArthur in Vinton County, Ohio.

Brien Vincent. 6/18/2014. Rural Action Watershed Restoration AmeriCorps member Rand Romas leads a pond study as part of the KEEN summer camp at Lake Hope State Park near McArthur in Vinton County, Ohio.

Andrea Morales. 09/03/2014. Jacksonville, Athens County, Ohio Labor Day Parade

Andrea Morales. 09/03/2014. Jacksonville, Athens County, Ohio Labor Day Parade

Stephen Speranza. 3/15/2004. Wilmerding, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.

Stephen Speranza. 3/15/2004. Wilmerding, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.


Lynaya Elliott is Department Manager for the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She also serves as one of the program leaders for the Community of Appalachian Student Leaders and a co-facilitator for The Appalachian Project. 


 

References

Tuck, Eve. “Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities.” Harvard Educational Review 79.3 (2009): 409-427.

McGreal, Chris. “America’s Poorest White Town: abandoned by coal, swallowed by drugs.” theguardian.com Guardian US, 12 November 2015. 20 December 2015.

 

Film Screening of Harlan County USA with Barbara Kopple

Harlan County USA
Wednesday, March 2, 2016 – 6:30pm to 10:00pm
Film/Video Theater, Wexner Center for the Arts
Join us for a screening and discussion of Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County U.S.A. (1976), a documentary account of the 1973 strike of Kentucky mine workers. The screening will be followed by a musical performance by David Morris, who provided some of the music for the documentary. Kopple will discuss aspects of documentary film-making as well as her current project,Shelter, which examines homeless veterans and features music by David Morris and his son, Jack Ballangee Morris.

This film documents the 1973 strike of Kentucky mine workers when Duke Power acquired the Eastover Mining Company and refused to honor their union contract in the United Mine Workers union. Kopple photographs the picketing, the company’s use of state troopers and the showdowns between the miners and the strikebreakers during this riveting documentary.

bio_headshot

Kopple produced and directed Harlan County USA and American Dream, both winners of the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.  In 1991, Harlan County USA was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress and designated an American Film Classic. Harlan County USA was restored and preserved by the Women’s Preservation Fund and the Academy Film Archive, and was featured as part of the Sundance Collection at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005. The Criterion Collection released a DVD of the documentary in 2006.

Kopple has been awarded the Human Rights Watch Film Festival Irene Diamond Award, Los Angeles Film Critics Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, the SilverDocs/Charles Guggenheim Award, New York Women in Film & Television Muse Award, the Maya Deren Independent Film and Video Award, the Woodstock Film Festival Maverick Award, Women in Film & Video of Washington, DC Women of Vision Award, the White House Project’s EPIC Award, the International Documentary Association Career Achievement Award and the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, Filmmakers Trophy & Audience Award.  The Paley Center for Media has named Barbara a 2007 “She Made It Honoree.” She recently served her tenth year on the board of trustees for the American Film Institute and continues as an advisory board member for the American University Center for Social Media and Independent Feature Project’s Filmmaker Labs.  In 2010, Barbara received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from American University.  She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the Director’s Guild of America, New York Women in Film and Television, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and actively participates in organizations that address social issues and support independent filmmaking.

If you require assistance to attend either of these events, please contact Afsane at rezaeisahraei.1@osu.edu.

Student Workshop

Thursday, March 3, 2016 – 10:00am to 12:00pm
The Collaboratory, The Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise
RSVP to Afsane at rezaeisahraei.1@osu.edu if you would like to attend the workshop.

Join us for a student workshop with Barbara Kopple, who will discuss her lengthy career as a documentary filmmaker, focusing especially on the production of Harlan County USA, which documents the 1974 strike of mine workers in Kentucky, and her newest project,Shelter, which focuses on homeless veterans. Kopple will talk with students about creating her own film company, Cabin Creek Films, being a woman in the film industry, the ethics of documenatary filmmaking, and filmmaking as advocacy.


This event is organized by The Appalachian Project, Ohio (a collaboration between the Center for Folklore Studies, the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Student Life’s Department of Social Change), and co-sponsored by the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy; Wexner Center for the Arts; Comparative Studies; Film Studies; the Department of English; and the Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise.

Photo courtesy of Criterion Collection at criterion.com

Community of Appalachian Student Leaders

We are excited to recently kick-off our pilot year for the Community of Appalachian Student Leaders program which aims to engage students from the Appalachian region with a community of students, faculty, and staff who are committed to developing academic, professional and leadership skills. This year, we launched the program in September and have a group of 24 students from Ross, Tuscarawas, Morgan, Perry, Gallia, Hocking, Muskingum, Belmont, Guernsey, Floyd County, KY, Jackson, Ashtabula, Pike, and Putnam County, WV.

If you would like to present to our students or wish to participate, please get in touch with the coordinators, Amanda Baker or Lynaya Elliott.

 

CASL-design

IMG_20151108_125846210 IMG_20151108_173131 IMG_20151108_125838499