Graduate Liberal Studies Program

Course Descriptions

GLS 592: Appalachian Literature

Instructor: Susan Hance

grayson and whitter band

"Grayson and Whitter Band"
(Image courtesy of Dr. Bob Taylor, Bucknell University)

This course will acquaint the student with Appalachian writers and their works of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and memoir. Students will have the opportunity to concentrate on works by women or men writers, if they choose.

Course Objectives:

1. To identify the voice of various Appalachian writers, noting language and sense of humor.

2. To identify major themes such as religion, nature, family and community-a sense of belonging, customs and traditions.

3. To compare and contrast different genres in Appalachian literature.

4. To demonstrate critical thinking, oral expression, and high level writing skills.

Required Texts: (Fall 2005)

Appalachia Inside Out (Volume 1 Conflict and Change) and Volume 2 (Culture and Custom), edited by: Robert J. Higgs, Ambrose N. Manning, and Jim Wayne Miller

River of Earth, by James Still

The Songcatcher, by Sharyn McCrumb

My Old True Love, by Sheila Kay Adams

Parchment of Leaves, by Silas House

Optional Texts:

Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia
Sandra L. Ballard (Editor), Patricia L. Hudson (Editor)

Other Readings : A detailed bibliography will be distributed at the first class.


Mountain Talk, documentary p roduced by The North Carolina Language and Life Project, narrated by award-winning storyteller Gary Carden ; Executive Producers: Walt Wolfram & James W. Clark ; p roducer & director: Neal Hutcheson

Songcatcher , feature film directed by Maggie Greenwald, starring Janet McTeer and Aiden Quinn.



Percent of Grade

Classroom attendance is essential. Students should notify the instructor if you must be absent. After two absences, the student's grade will diminish by 5%. See the instructor for lengthy, unavoidable absences to make appropriate arrangements.


Classroom participation is expected. Students will do a one page written assignment for each class to prepare points of discussion.


Written work is expected to be of high quality, graduate level in content, syntax, and punctuation. Two major essays to compare and contrast pieces of literature will be required during the semester. The first will compare and contrast two short stories, essays or poems. The second will compare and contrast two book length works. Students may also write their own original work. Each of these papers will be 1,500 to 3,000 words in length.


Oral Presentations will occur daily and in conjunction with the two major written assignments. On a daily basis, literature will be read aloud. Students will have the opportunity to read and/or to lead discussions. For the two major written assignments, students will present an oral synopsis of the paper he/she has written and lead a discussion about it.


Creativity makes everything more interesting. Bring in other examples of Appalachian writing, write your own, research storytelling events or readings and share the details with the class.


Accommodations : If you need specific accommodations, please speak with the instructor at the beginning of the semester.

Written Guidelines:

Weekly papers should be one page in length and should address:

  1. Author's information
  2. Theme(s) of the writing
  3. Your thoughts. Do you have a comparable experience? Do you agree with the writer? How does this piece compare to that of other authors? Would this happen where you live or where you were raised?
  4. List any terms or customs with which you are unfamiliar.
  5. Answer assigned questions.

Major Essays should be 1,500 words for the short works assignment and 3,000 words for the novel comparison and should address:

1. Author's biographical information. How are the two authors similar or different?

2. Theme(s). Why did the authors choose these themes? How are they similar or different?

3. Characters. Do the authors show respect for the characters? Do you? Why?

4. Time and place. Compare the setting in the two works. Does one have more of an impact than the other? Could you relate more to one than to the other?

5. What did you learn from reading this material? If you learned new vocabulary or something about the society, expound on it.

Schedule: Appalachian Literature, Fall 2005

The written syllabus provided in the first class offering shall reflect the details of this schedule.

Last Update: July 16, 2008