Power of Place: NEH 2018 Summer Institute

Power og Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia

Syllabus and Readings

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2018 Syllabus and Readings
Day to Day Schedule

Humanities Themes: The Power of Place will examine: 1) how the Appalachian Mountains have shaped the people of the region and, in turn, how humans have shaped the mountains, 2) how the story of Appalachia relates to the larger American story and 3) the role cultural and biological diversity have played in the region.

Overview: The two-week institute will Appalachia Barnbe organized chronologically into four thematic sessions considering the mountains as they come under the influence of successive groups—each with its own ideas about the relationship of humans to nature and about what constitutes the “best” use of the land.

While we explore the relationship each successive group had to the land and to each other, the following questions will guide our inquiry:

1. How do these people perceive the mountains, the forests and other living creatures they find? What value do they place on them?

2. What tools and strategies do they bring and what tools and strategies do they develop in response to the landscape?

3. What is the impact of their perceptions and their technologies tools—both on the landscape, on their interactions with others, and on their own way of life?

4. What are their connections to other economic, ecological and cultural systems in the mountains as well as beyond the Southern Appalachians?

SUNDAY, JULY 8 —Arrival and registration

1:00-5:00 Registration at UNC Asheville

5:00-6:00 Introductions and Logistics

6:00 Leave for of the Wilma Dykeman Riverway on the French Broad the third oldest river in the world. There we see the important role water has played in creating the valleys and mountains of Appalachia and in sustaining the rich diversity of life in its many nooks and crannies.

The author of nearly two dozen books, Wilma Dykeman explored her native region of Appalachia often joyously, sometimes painfully, but always French Broad Wilma Dykemanwith unflinching honesty in both fiction and nonfiction. The official historian of the state of Tennessee, Dykeman was concerned throughout her work with relations between the people and land of Appalachia.
In The French Broad, Dykeman tells the history of western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee by following one of its major waterways from beginning to end. The French Broad was one of five volumes from the famous Rivers of America s eries to be honored by the Library of Congress at its Center for the Book.
Reading: “Chapter 18: Who Killed the French Broad” in Dykeman, Wilma, and Douglas W. Gorsline. The French Broad, Rivers of America,# 50. University of Tennessee Press, 1965.

Assignment prior to first meeting



9:00-10:15 Environmental History:  Principles and Applications

Readings and resources:

Crosby, Alfred W. “The Past and Present of Environmental History.” American Historical Review 100, no. 4 (October 1995): 1177-1190

Pierce and Ross will begin with a brief discussion of Crosby’s seminal work on environmental history. Next scholars break onto small groups organized by grade level and subject matter to discuss potential ways of incorporating an environmental history approach into classrooms.

10:15-10:30 Break

10:30-11:15 Biodiversity and History in Appalachia: Ross, PierceAppalachia BearsThe Power of Place: Land and Peoples in Appalachia

We will do a close critical viewing of clips from APPALACHIA both to demonstrate a classroom strategy for active video engagement and to establish the origins and importance of geological and biological diversity in the region.

Readings and resources:
APPALACHIA excerpts: Half a Billion Years, Salamanders
Pierce, Daniel.Chapter 1 “Origins” from The Great Smokies: From Natural
Habitat to National Park

Silver, Tim.excerpts from Mt. Mitchell and the Black Mountains an Environmental History. University of North Carolina Press, 2003.

11:30 Bus Leaves UNC Asheville for Mount Mitchell

12:30 Lunch and discussion with Professor Timothy Silver

1:30- 4:30 Reading the Land:

Professor Silver, author of Mount Mitchell and the Black Mountains: An
Environmental History of the Highest Peaks in Eastern America
will take us on a tour of forested landscapes near Mount Mitchell, the tallest peak on the
eastern seaboard. Professor Silver will discuss the area’s natural history and the variety of forest communities and diversity of plant life found. Professor Silver, one of the foremost experts on forest and human history, gives us a lesson on reading the forested landscape for clues to its past.


9:00-10:30 Cherokee Creation Stories   Locklear

Dr. Locklear leads the scholars in a close textual analysis of documents from early encounters with the Cherokee.

Readings and resources:

APPALACHIA excerpt: Cherokee Creation Story
Excerpts from Rozema, Vicki. Cherokee Voices: Early Accounts of Cherokee Life in the East.Winston Salem: Blair, 2002
The Manly Game of Ball-playing, 1848 (141-147)
Excerpt from Charles Lanman’s Letters from the Allegheny Mountains
Sound from the Distant Mountains: The Cherokee Storytellers,
1887-90 (148-157 “The First Fire”“The Ice Man” “The Removed Townhouses”River Cane Cherokee Basket
Excerpt from Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee. Dover Publications, Inc., 1995 (republished from original publication in 1900):
“Origin of Strawberries” (259)
Excerpts from Duncan, Barbara. Living Stories of the Cherokee. University of North Carolina, 1998:
Introduction (1-27)
Kathi Smith Littlejohn (29-32)
“First Man and First Woman” (55-58), Davey Arch (75-79),
“The Origin of Strawberries” (100-101), “Growing up in Cherokee” (102-105),
Freeman Owle (193-201) “The Origin of Strawberries” (226-227)

10:30-10:45 Break

10:45-12:00 Changes in the Land: The Fur Trade and the Global Economy Pierce, Ross
Using maps, journals and ledgers from traders along with the sources below, we discuss the impact of the European trade on the mountains and on the people living there

Readings and resources:

Silver, Timothy Chapter 4: “Europeans Going Thither,” in A New Face on
the Countryside: Indians, Colonists, and Slaves in South Atlantic Forests, 1500-1800

12:00 Lunch

1:30 Reflection and Discussion

2:15 Break

2:30 Lesson plans and conferences

8:00 Movie (Optional): The Journey of August KingAugust King John Ehle
The Journey of August King “is an underrated masterpiece.” A strongly crafted drama of moral courage, the film excels as a richly detailed portrait of rural life in the early days of the Republic. In April 1815. August King, a widower, is traveling on his way home as he does every year after selling his produce and purchasing the stock and goods he will need for the coming year. On his journey, he comes upon a run-away slave, a 17 year old young woman and August King must decide to violate the law and help this slave to freedom or leave her to be hunted down and, ultimately, returned to her slave owner.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 11  Field Trip to Cherokee

“We take care of the mountains and the mountains take care of us.”
                    Jerry Wolfe, Cherokee Elder

On our field trip to Cherokee, we visit the oldest and the newest manifestations of tribal identity. We begin at most ancient site of the tribe, the Kituwah mound and . Cherokee Reservationend the day at the LEED certified state of the art K-12 school built to reinforce and promote Cherokee tribal traditions. Tribal members lead the visits and question and answers with teacher scholars

7:30 Bus leaves UNCA for Cherokee

9:00 The ancient site of Kituwah and River Cane Restoration Project with Tom Belt, and Cherokee Language instructor at Western Carolina University and David Cozzo, ethnobotanist with the Cherokee tribe and director of the river cane restoration project.

11:30-1:30 Picnic Lunch at the Welcome Center Museum in Cherokee at the entrance to Great Smoky Mountains National Park and tour of the museum.

2:00-3:30 Cherokee High School tour in small groups by grade level led by studentsFocusing on the grade level area of the group including council area, small breakout areas and native language and arts classrooms. Tour of Cherokee Central Schools a K-12 green campus

“Our land here is part of us.”
              Laura Pinnix, Teacher, Cherokee Central

Cherokee Central Schools is located on the lands of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, adjacent to both the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Western North Carolina. 1100 students, 98% of student population are Native American - Cherokee. The 473,000 square foot eco-conscious facility houses the elementary, middle and high schools. With state of the art technology, the school supports the rich traditions of the past .Cherokee Beaderwhile preparing students for the future. Several classrooms are dedicated solely to traditional crafts: wood carving, basket-weaving, stories told with ancient words, beads, feathers and clay. Lessons are handed down by local artists and teachers from the community.

5:00 Arrive at UNC Asheville

7:00 Screening of APPALACHIA Parts One and Two (Optional)







9:00 Reflection and Discussion: Pierce, Ross

10:00-1:00 Travel to Vance Birthplace and Lunch

At the Vance Birthplace, we get a firsthand look at a mountain farm of the eighteenth century. Dr. James Veteto will meet us and discuss his work on folk agriculture in the Appalachians. Vance BirthplaceWe will look closely at the ecology of the Vance farm, how it fit in with the landscape, at the products grown on the farm, and their access to markets. Included will be a discussion of the old Buncombe Turnpike, a road used to transport herds of animals especially pigs, from the upland south to markets in the low country.

Dr. Pierce and Dr. Veteto will discuss the role of corn in the Appalachian economy along with corn whiskey as a portable commodity. We will explore the economics and the ecology behind whiskey making. On the way back to UNC Asheville, we will visit a local artisan distillery which carries on a generations old family tradition of making moonshine—legally.

Reading:Veteto, James R., Gary Paul Nabhan, Regina Fitzsimmons, Kahin Routson, and Deja Walker, eds. The Place Based Foods of Appalachia. WestWorldVision, 2011.

1:00-2:00 Return to UNC Asheville and Break

2:00-3:00 Mountain Farms: Woodlands Agriculture and Settlement Patterns Ross, Pierce
We work with original documents to explore settlement patterns and mountain life in the early 19th century.

Readings and resources:

APPALACHIA: New Green World Excerpts
Dunn, Cade’s Cove, Chap. 3: “The Market Economy”

Maps: 1763 Proclamation Line

Indian Trading Paths
Proclamation Line of 1763
Early immigration routes
Great Philadelphia Wagon Road
Cade’s Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The ledgers of William Holland Thomas

3:15-5:00 Lesson plans and conferences

For Friday, prepare two questions related to the readings for Friday, July 13 to discuss with guest faculty, John Inscoe


9:00 Race and Slavery in the Mountain South: Myths, Realities and Ambiguities by Guest Lecturer: John Inscoe

Part One: Slavery in the Mountains

Readings and resources:

Inscoe, John and Gordon McKinney. “Chapter Five: Guerilla Warfare” from The Heart of Confederate Appalachia: Western North Carolina in the Civil War. University of North Carolina Press, 1999.
Dunn, Cades Cove, “Chapter 5: The Civil War.”

10:15 Break

10:30 Part Two: Appalachia and Race: Question and Answer with Dr. Inscoe

Readings and resources:

Inscoe, John. “Race and Racism in Nineteenth-Century Southern Appalachia: Myths, Realities, and Ambiguities,” in Appalachia in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century. Mary Beth Pudup, Dwight B. Billings and Altina L. Waller (editors), Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1995.

12:00 Lunch with Professor Inscoe

1:00 Reading and discussion of race in Thomas Wolfe’s “Child by Tiger” with Professor Darin Waters.


Wolfe, Thomas. “Child by Tiger” in The Complete Stories of Thomas Wolfe. New York: Scribner, 1989.

Is Asheville still segregated? Does the 1906 Will Harris event on which the story is based illustrate any truths about race relations in Asheville?  What impression did the event make on Thomas Wolfe the child, and what does the adult Wolfe’s short story, “The Child by Tiger,” suggest about the event and the writer? How does the written record differ from the lore handed down through generations in Asheville’s black community?

2:00-4:30 Lesson plans and conferences


Carter Family Fold

Janette Carter, one of three children of A.P. and SaraCarter, established the Carter Family Fold to honor the memory of her parents and Maybelle Carter who played a historic role in helping give birth to the age of country music beginning in 1927. Carter FoldThe original Carter Family lived where the Carter Fold is today, in Poor Valley, at the foot of Clinch Mountain in southwest Virginia. Since 1974, the non-profit Carter Music Center has presented programs of old time and bluegrass music every weekend. The Saturday concerts highlight the musical style made popular by the Carter Family, considered by many as country music’s first family. In keeping with the traditional music style, no electrical instruments are allowed (everything is acoustic).

SUNDAY, JULY 15 (Optional) The Biltmore House

The largest home in America, Biltmore was built with railroad money inherited by George Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt was also responsible for the first school of forestry in the United States. While the Vance homestead which we visited earlier in the week blends gently into its surroundings, Biltmore dominates the landscape for miles, a French chateau set amidst the mountains in an elegant park designed by Frederic Law Olmsted.


Torn asunder by the cataclysm of the Civil War, the Appalachians experience even greater transformations with the coming of the railroads. Speculators spread through every mineral rich and old forest hollow, buying up timber and mineral rights. Coal camps replace villages; mountain farms are abandoned; missionary schools spring up; the land, the people, the wildlife and the culture are endangered as the coal is dug and the ancient trees are felled to fuel the nation’s booming new industrial economy.


9:00 Discussion and Reflection: Ross, Pierce

10:00 Break

10:15 Appalachia and the New Industrial Age Guest Lecturer Kathryn Newfont

Dr. Newfont will lead a discussion on the transformation of the Appalachian countryside touching on: the role of forests in Appalachian life, coal, timber and other resources, outside capital, land ownership patterns. and tension over land use philosophies.

Readings and resources:
Eller, Ronald D. Miners, Millhands, and Mountaineers: Industrialization
of the Appalachian South, 1880-1930.
Univ. of Tennessee Press, 1982.
    Chapter 2: A Magnificent Field for Capitalists
    Chapter 3: The Last Great Trees
Newfont, Kathryn. Blue Ridge Commons: Environmental Activism and Forest History in Western North Carolina. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2012.
      Chapter 2 “Response to Devastation: Organizing Forests in the Southern Appalachians.”

12:00 Lunch with Kathryn Newfont and Elizabeth Engelhardt

1:00-2:30 Transformation of the Kitchen and the Countryside, Elizabeth Engelhardt

“Hidden in the choice between cornbread and biscuits is an entire cultural history.”

With modernization, cornbread, long the food of the people, came under attack as did so many other aspects of Appalachian life. Emblematic of the radical transformations taking place in the region, the conversion of cornbread eaters to biscuit makers reveals much about the complicated relationship between place, perception and culture.

2:30-4:30   Lesson plans and conferences


8:30 Bus leaves for Cradle of Forestry via Blue Ridge Parkway

9:45 Arrive at Cradle of Forestry

In 1914 George Vanderbilt’s widow, Edith, sold more than 86,000 acres to the U.S. Government, including the tract that became the Cradle of Forestry in America, the nucleus for the Pisgah National Forest, the first National Forest east of the Mississippi. The United States Congress established the Cradle of Forestry in America to commemorate the beginning of forestry and forestry education in America, and to stimulate interest in forests and their management today. Continuing a legacy of forest conservation history, the Cradle of Forestry offers a snapshot of life at America’s first school of Forestry along the Biltmore Campus Trail. We will hear of the devastation left behind by industrial logging and the efforts of Gilbert Pinchot to restore the woods. Outdoor activities include two guided trails which lead to seven historical buildings, a 1915 Climax logging locomotive and an antique portable sawmill.

12:30 Return to UNCA

2-4:30 Lesson plans and projects

Tuesday Night

8:00 PM APPALACHIA Screening with Ross Spears


9:00 Appalachia: Outside Looking In

Readings and resources:
Applebome, P. (1999, July 11). The Nation; For Better and Worse, Poverty’s Poster Child.New York Times

Other Media:
Fessler, P. (2014). In Appalachia, poverty is in the eye of the beholder [Radio series episode]. In Weekend Edition Saturday. New York: Lynn Neary.

Excerpts from:
Christmas in Appalachia with Charles Kuralt, 1965
Another America with Dan Rather, 48 Hours, 1989
American Hollow, HBO documentary dir. by Rory Kennedy, 1999
A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains, 20/20 special with Diane Sawyer, 2009

Drawing on the work they have done to date in the Power of Place institute, scholars will critique these sources and discuss their critiques in small groups led by the project directors.

10:45 Break

11:00 Higher Ground:  Education, Community and Art by Robert Gipe

Multi media presentation introducing Gipe’s award winning classroom approach using community based theater and art in the mountains “to document the issues that face the mountains: drug abuse, environmental degradation as a result of mining, lack of jobs, outmigration, discrimination, and our lack of willingness as a community to talk through these issues.” Robert Gipe will discuss how to engage students using art and environment in the classroom.

12:00 Lunch with Robert Gipe

1:00 Robert Gipe’s, Trampoline

“I was never going to get out from under this place.”
Dawn Jewell in Trampoline

Jagged and honest, Trampoline is a powerful portrait of a place struggling with the economic and social forces that threaten and define it.Robert Gipe Trampoline Inspired by oral tradition and punctuated by Gipe’s raw and whimsical drawings, it is above all about its heroine, Dawn, as she decides whether to save a mountain or save herself; be ruled by love or ruled by anger; remain in the land of her birth or run for her life.
Southern Spaces

While Hillbilly Elegy has garnered praise from the media and from folks outside the region for its explanation of the “hillbilly” ethos, reviews from the Appalachian region have been more complicated. We ask our scholars to wade into the discussion from the perspective of Dawn Jewell, Gipe’s main character in Trampoline, who is struggling with many of the same challenges as J.D Vance in his memoir.

2:00 Break

2:15-4:00 Lesson Plans and Conference


9:00 Discussion and Reflection

10:00 Break

10:15 Appalachian Literature and Place:  Erica Abrams Locklear

A number of noteworthy poets are from or have written about Buncombe and Henderson counties. These include Ron Rash, Robert Morgan, Michael McFee, Fred Chappell, and Kathryn Stripling Byer. We will read a variety of poems by these authors to investigate how place informs their work. Rash, for example, often references historical events, like the Shelton Laurel Massacre, while writers like Byer focus on the loneliness that can accompany maintaining an isolated mountain farm.

11:45   Lunch

12:30 Travel to Cataloochee

2:00-4:00 Cataloochee with Wayne Caldwell and Pamela Duncan

Surrounded by 6000-foot peaks, Cataloochee was one of the largest and most prosperous settlements in what is now the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A variety of historic buildings have been preserved in the valley, including two churches, a school, and several homes and outbuildings. Wayne Caldwell, a descendant of the original settlers, will give us a tour of the village and will discuss its importance to his won work. He will be joined by fellow novelist Pamela Duncan who will add additional perspective on life in the mountains and how it informs writing in the region.

Readings and resources:
Chapter 6 “The Folk Culture” Dunn, Durwood. Cades Cove.
Chapter 7 “Family Life and Social Customs” Dunn, Durwood. Cades Cove.

Of further interest:

Caldwell, Wayne. Cataloochee. New York: Randomhouse, 2009. Caldwell’s outstanding debut novel follows several generations of hardscrabble folk living in the Great Smoky Mountains, warmly describing them tending to pristine stretches of land, keeping a wary eye on outsiders, and creating a tangled forest of intermingling family.
Set in the same Appalachian locale, his second novel Requiem by Fire strikes chords of humor, strife, and human endurance.

Duncan, Pamela. Duncan’s first novel, Moon Women, was a Southeastern Booksellers Association (Award Finalist, and her second novel, Plant Life, won the 2003 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction. Her third novel, The Big Beautiful, was published in March 2007.

4:30 return to UNCA


Gallery Walk: Sharing Final Projects

Each teacher will present their work from the institute using a “gallery walk” technique on the last day of the institute. Lesson plans will focus on knowledge gained during the Institute, integrate primary sources and instructional techniques, and meet the specified objectives. Each lesson plan will be composed of the following components, at a minimum:

Lesson plan presentations will include:
a. lesson title
b. learning objectives
c. grade and subject addressed
d. resources including primary sources used
e. procedure
f. assessment
g. modify/extending the lesson

Copies of the lesson plans will be distributed to all participants electronically and will be posted on the forum page of the Appalachia website in the following weeks. Dr. Sandra Byrd and Tammy Young will be available to participants throughout the Institute to provide research guidance and feedback on lesson ideas and plans.

The gallery walk will be conducted in three rounds, with ten presenters per round. Presenters will have a table to display their lesson plans along with any visuals (electronic or paper) that accompany their work. They will be prepared to briefly describe the lessons to colleagues in a ten minute time period. They should have printouts (digital or paper) of the plans and be prepared to speak informally about each lesson.

The remaining twenty participants will visit each display and learn more about the lesson plans their colleagues developed. During the first round of presentations, ten “stations” located around the classroom walls, placed on pieces of paper on desks in different locations around class, or typed on different computers will record participants reactions to their colleagues work. As participants rotate among the peer presentations they will utilize the stations to react, question, encourage, respond to the presentations. They can review what previous colleagues have recorded and add new content. The groups rotate, to stations until all have had the opportunity to hear the presentation,  ask questions and react at the presentation station.

After reviewing the initial presentations, ten new presentations will be displayed and the process will continue until all participant presentations have been viewed. It is a relatively informal setting to allow for participants to see the work everyone has done but to spend more time learning about those lessons that are more interesting to them or relevant to their classrooms. The station comments will be an informal assessment tool for the lesson plans, the institute content and adoption of new instructional methodology.

9:00   Lesson Plan Gallery Walks and Discussions-Small Groups
10:30 Break
10:45 Lesson Plan Gallery Walk and Discussions Continued
12:00 Lunch
1:00   Lesson Plan Gallery Walk and Discussions Continued
2:30   Final reflections
3:30   Closing celebration