Appalachian Studies chair selected for prestigious summer scholar institute


Theresa Burriss

Radford University's Director of Appalachian Studies Theresa Burriss has been selected as one of 25 scholars who will attend a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute in Concord, Massachusetts this year.

Each year, NEH offers tuition-free opportunities for school, college and university educators to study a variety of humanities topics. "Transcendentalism and Reform in the Age of Emerson, Thoreau, and Fuller" is the topic Burriss will study.

"I'm most honored to have been selected and I'm sure the experience will add a rich dimension to both my teaching and scholarship," Burriss said.

The professor said the institute will provide her an opportunity to "acquire deeper knowledge of the foundational philosophies of Emerson, Thoreau and Fuller through primary research and lectures from experts in the field, which in turn will provide me new ideas to incorporate into several of my classes. Interestingly, there is a direct link between several Appalachian writers, such as Emma Bell Miles and Wendell Berry, and the Transcendentalists."

Burriss serves as chair of Radford University's Appalachian Studies program and teaches classes on Appalachian literature, Appalachian cultural and social capital, Appalachian social and environmental justice issues and place-based education.

As part of her community outreach, Burriss serves as a cultural consultant for the Community Health Center of the New River Valley and provides Appalachian cultural competency workshops throughout Southwest Virginia. She also serves on the boards of the Appalachian Community Fund and Appalachian Sustainable Development, as well as the steering committee for the Appalachian Studies Association.

In addition to her teaching and research, Burriss works to combat discrimination based on race, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The NEH is an independent federal agency that supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities. The "Transcendentalist" Summer Institute is sponsored by the Community College Humanities Association.

Apr 15, 2015