Appalachian Studies 460

APST 460: Seminar in Appalachian Studies

Credit Hours: (3)

This seminar focuses on a designated topic of current interest in Appalachian Studies and is designed to give students in-depth exposure both in the classroom and in the field. Topic examples include mountaintop removal, coalfield labor practices, cultural attachment to place, Appalachian-Scottish-Irish connections, Appalachia and the media. The course will serve as a capstone for the Appalachian Studies minor and as a complement for a variety of majors.

Note(s): Required for Appalachian Studies minor. May be used to fulfill B.S. requirement for some majors. May be repeated for credit when content differs.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

The seminar in a topic of current interest in Appalachian Studies offers an intensive exploration of an issue in a single discipline of this interdisciplinary field or it may include several disciplines. Since the focus of Appalachian Studies is on a specific geographical region but embraces all aspects of the region, topics are likely to vary widely in different iterations of the course. Examples of topics include mountaintop removal and other mining practices; coal field labor relations; environmental justice in specified cases such as Saltville, Virginia; cultural attachment to place; Appalachian-Scottish-Irish connections; traditions in mountain music; media representations of the region. The latter topic, Appalachia in the Media, has been offered in the past and will be referenced here as a model. As much as possible, the course will tie in to issues of concern and debate at the annual conference sponsored by the national professional organization, the Appalachian Studies Association, which students will be encouraged to attend.

As an example, the content of the course “Appalachia in the Media” is detailed below to show a fuller picture of materials covered in a topical seminar of this type.

  • Images of Appalachia: Overview (Documentary films: Appalshop, Strangers and Kin; Rory Kennedy, American Hollow)
  • Appalachia in Commercial Film (Examples: Deliverance, October Sky, Nell, Next of Kin)
  • Appalachia in Television (Examples: The Andy Griffith Show, Beverly Hillbillies, Dukes of Hazzard, The Waltons)
  • Appalachia in Television News Magazines (Examples: 48 Hours, 60 Minutes)
  • Appalachia in Newspapers and Magazines (Current stories brought in by students and instructor)
  • Appalachia in Textbooks and Children’s Literature (Secondary history, geography, and literature texts, children’s picture books such as Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains)
  • Appalachia in Fiction (Novels such as Giardina’s The Unquiet Earth and Thom’s Follow the River)
  • Appalachia in Music (Video and audio tapes of performers such as Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, local performers; PBS and other television productions)
  • Appalachia in Museums (Area museums, including field trip to one or more)
  • Appalachia on the Worldwide Web (Student discoveries and instructor-designated sites)


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will engage students through varied delivery of the content. Among the delivery methods are readings, audiovisual materials, Internet sites, guest performances, lecture, and discussion. In true seminar fashion, students are expected to participate fully in interactive class activities. Students may participate in group-learning sessions where they will research, study, and present orally a specific segment of the course content. Each student will be responsible for field research on a selected topic and a presentation of the findings to the class. Students will be encouraged to attend professional conferences and/or other educational events relevant to the topic being studied. Of particular importance is the Appalachian Studies Conference, held in the region each year in March. Field trips to relevant sites will also be a significant component of the course.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Having successfully completed this course, the student will …

  • Be knowledgeable about a specific topic area of Appalachian Studies.
  • Have reflected upon and shared his gained knowledge both orally and in writing.
  • Have participated in discussions, lectures, multi-media presentations on the topic.
  • Have participated in group-learning and sharing activities.
  • Have completed primary field research on a selected topic.
  • Have presented the research findings in a specified written format.
  • Have presented the research findings orally to class colleagues.
  • Have taken part in professional activities, as appropriate and possible.
  • Have participated in field trips to relevant sites, as appropriate and possible.

Be equipped to enter the broader scholarly dialogue about this topic area of Appalachian Studies.


Assessment Measures

A variety of assessment measures are expected for this seminar topics course, among them the following:

  • Regular participation in class discussion, raising issues and questions and responding to those advanced by colleagues.
  • Response logs submitted on a regular basis, reacting to readings, discussions, multi-media presentations, and other activities related to the course content.
  • Examinations at periodic intervals.
  • Small-group learning activities resulting in oral and multi-media presentations to the class.
  • Analytical essays on subjects treated in the course materials and/or designed by the students themselves.
  • Major field research project and written analysis of the findings
  • Oral and multi-media presentation of findings in major field research project.


Other Course Information



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