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Rereading Appalachia: Literacy, Place, and Cultural Resistance

edited by Sara Webb-Sunderhaus and Kim Donehower with contributions by Ryan Angus, Krista Bryson, Gregory Griffey, Emma Howes, Josh Iddings, Peter Mortensen, Nathan Shepley, Todd Snyder, and Kathryn Trauth Taylor

Availablepaperback$28.00x 978-0-8131-7442-6
Availablecloth$80.00x 978-0-8131-6559-2
Place Matters: New Directions in Appalachian Studies
238 pages  Pubdate:   6 x 9  3 figures

Appalachia faces overwhelming challenges that plague many rural areas across the country, including poorly funded schools, stagnant economic development, corrupt political systems, poverty, and drug abuse. Its citizens, in turn, have often been the target of unkind characterizations depicting them as illiterate or backward. Despite entrenched social and economic disadvantages, the region is also known for its strong sense of culture, language, and community.

In this innovative volume, a multidisciplinary team of both established and rising scholars challenge Appalachian stereotypes through an examination of language and rhetoric. Together, the contributors offer a new perspective on Appalachia and its literacy, hoping to counteract essentialist or class-based arguments about the region’s people, and reexamine past research in the context of researcher bias.

Featuring a mix of traditional scholarship and personal narratives, Rereading Appalachia assesses a number of pressing topics, including the struggles of first-generation college students and the pressure to leave the area in search of higher-quality jobs, prejudice toward the LGBT community, and the emergence of Appalachian and Affrilachian art in urban communities. The volume also offers rich historical perspectives on issues such as the intended and unintended consequences of education activist Cora Wilson Stewart’s campaign to promote literacy at the Kentucky Moonlight Schools.

A call to arms for those studying the heritage and culture of Appalachia, this timely collection provides fresh perspectives on the region, its people, and their literacy beliefs and practices.

Sara Webb-Sunderhaus, associate professor of English at Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne, is a contributor to Reclaiming the Rural: Essays on Literacy, Rhetoric, and Pedagogy and The Norton Book of Composition Studies.

Kim Donehower is associate professor of English at the University of North Dakota and the coauthor of Rural Literacies.

What does it mean to be Appalachian? In Rereading Appalachia, contributors tackle this often bitterly discussed problem concerning the creation of identity through literary studies. . . . Recommended. -- Choice

[This book] contains diverse, well-researched chapters on historical and contemporary Appalachian literacy issues. Not only do the contributors incorporate reputable sources to bolster their positions, many also include compelling personal testimony that provides readers insight into the authors’ motives for entering the literacy field.

With deep sensitivity and awareness, they bring attention to the region's long‐lived stereotypes, as well as how and why they were created; they refuse homogenization of the region's residents while also eschewing overly romantic characterizations.

Webb‐Sunderhaus and Donehower have assembled a strong collection in Rereading Appalachia. -- H-Net Reviews

This collection makes an important, worthwhile contribution to the fields of literacy studies and Appalachian studies. By investigating the deeply embedded cultural narratives that we have about Appalachia, and Appalachian literacies in particular, it encourages us to become aware of those narratives and to resist a too-easy reliance on them. -- Erica Abrams Locklear, UNC Asheville

The collection is well arranged, and the historical pieces are connected nicely to current research. The authors challenge the pure, Anglo-Saxon Appalachian and point out the diversity of Appalachia, so that other ethnicities and orientations are described. -- Katherine Sohn, professor emeritus of English at Pikeville College

In that nearly all chapters draw on a particular theoretical stance or scholarship, the book promises to contribute to the advancement of several theoretical orientations. The editors assemble papers that offer distinct and much-needed points of view on the subject of literacy. These include but are not limited to race, gender, class, homosexuality, religion, and diasporic identity. -- Anita Puckett, director of Appalachian Studies at Virginia Tech