Appalachian Studies 200

APST 200: Introducing Appalachia

Prerequisite: None

Credit Hours: (3)

This course introduces the Appalachian Mountain region through a survey of its geography, history, cultures, lifestyles, and the arts. Readings, discussions, and multi-media presentations on the above topics will be supplemented by library and field research. The class is designed to create and overall awareness and appreciation of life in Appalachia. Required for Appalachian Studies minor.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Basic to the course are focused readings and discussions on Appalachia, including a variety of topics that may encompass among them geography, history, culture, folklore, literature, music, the arts, economics, politics, religion, education, and health care. The course is interdisciplinary in nature and will be taken by students pursuing the minor in Appalachian Studies, as well as those with a general interest in the subject matter. It will be taught by faculty with degrees in such major areas as anthropology, english, geography, history, and sociology; and specific course content will to some extent be shaped by the instructor’s expertise and interest. It is intended to be an introductory course to acquaint the Radford University student with the region in which he/she presently resides. Basic texts are likely to be chosen from among the following:

  • interdisciplinary anthologies such as Ergood and Kuhre’s Appalachia: Social Context Past and Present and the forthcoming Handbook to Appalachia;
  • histories of immigration patterns and cultural connections such as Blethen and Wood’s From Ulster to Carolina and Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish;
  • journals such as the Journal of Appalachian Studies,Now and Then, and Tocher;
  • novels such as Arnow’s The Dollmaker and Giardina’s Storming Heaven;
  • studies of political economics such as Fisher’s Fighting Back in Appalachia;
  • compendiums of health, education, or land use statistics such as annual publications by the Appalachian Regional Commission and Couto’s An American Challenge;
  • theoretical studies such as Cunningham’s Apples on the Flood or Whisnant’s All That Is Native and Fine.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

As indicated above, the course is by nature interdisciplinary and therefore requires a diversity of approaches to best convey the subject matter.

  • Instructor’s lectures and discussion sessions
  • Multi-media presentations
  • Guest speakers, particularly colleagues with Appalachian expertise and perspectives from other disciplines.
  • Students’ own contributions in a community-of-learners environment
  • Readings from assigned texts, supplemental materials, and research sources
  • Writings about reading and other class experiences in logs or journals, as well as in critical formal papers
  • Attendance of Appalachian events such as lectures, musical presentations, or arts and crafts exhibits that are regularly part of the cultural life of the campus and community

Students’ discussion, reading, and active participation in field research and reporting allow them to demonstrate their mastery of unique skills in their interdisciplinary work. The course is designed to encourage students to learn from their peers new skills complementary to their own. English majors, for example, may learn from anthropology majors how to do better oral interviews. Anthropology majors may learn from history majors new ways to organize facts and interpret data. In sum, the course allows students to utilize skills of reading and analyzing, speaking and writing, researching and reporting. It offers competence and confidence as student-scholars, and perhaps will lead participants to undertake work which will become a lifelong interest.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Upon successful completion of this course, the students will …

  • Have been introduced to the region called Appalachia and to the discipline of Appalachian Studies.
  • Have been exposed to a variety of topics and connections among disciplines.
  • Have learned how the study of a designated region can be approached from a variety of perspectives.
  • Have achieved unification of the various perspectives into an informed understanding of the whole.
  • Have sampled several disciplines, which may, in turn, encourage pursuit of one of these as a major.
  • Have learned how the Appalachian Studies minor can complement and enrich a range of major studies and career options.
  • Have been given a closer look at a region important to American cultural life -- perhaps their own region, either by birth or adoption -- and a keener sense of their roles as participants in the ongoing traditions of that region.


Assessment Measures

Understanding of major issues in Appalachian Studies and the connection of those issues to national and international concerns will be assessed through writing projects, oral presentations, and participation in class discussions.

  • Writing projects will include such activities as journals and logs, short reports, midterm and final examinations, and research projects. Students will have a variety of ways to display not only their acquisition of new knowledge, but their abilities to synthesize interdisciplinary studies as they write to learn, and write about what they have learned.
  • Creative use of photography, computer skills, internet sites, and film-making can be components of group-learning and research projects.
  • Oral presentations and group-led learning activities are useful in assessing the process of learning. Such presentations will give students ways to articulate questions with which they are dealing, connections which they are making, and issues which they find important in Appalachian Studies. Their concepts of what is valued, what is controversial, and what is yet to be done can be assessed through these oral activities.
  • Regular participation in class discussion allows students to become fully engaged with the content of the course and provides the instructor with information about the student’s interest and mastery of the subject matter.


Other Course Information


Review and Approval
September 2001 Reviewed by Dr. Grace Toney Edwards, Chair