Appalachian Studies Program faculty members Anita Puckett and Emily Satterwhite, and English faculty member Serena Frost, served as conference chair, program chair, and local arrangements chairs respectively for “Extreme Appalachia,” the 40th annual Appalachian Studies Conference, which was held on the Virginia Tech campus March 9–12. This was the first time the conference was held in Blacksburg since 1994.
In addition to academic presentations, the program included public performances; fiber arts exhibits curated by Kathy Combiths, English; photography exhibits (Katie White, Material Culture and Public Humanities, assistant curator); a series of documentary screenings; a plenary co-organized by Barbara Ellen Smith, Sociology; and training sessions and workshops.
College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences students presented and participated in a range of sessions. Judson Abraham, ASPECT, presented ‘‘How Marcuse and Bloch Contribute to a Critical Appalachian Utopianism’’ and participated in the “Exploring Critical Theory for Appalachian Scholars and Activists” roundtable. Katie Brooks, Rhetoric and Writing, presented “‘What’s the Catch’: Strategies for Recruiting Central Appalachian High School Teachers for University Partnerships to Promote College Access.” Rachel Hargrave, Creative Writing and Literature and Language, presented with faculty member Abby Walker, English (and , “/z/-devoicing: A Feature of Appalachian English”? (co-authored with Amy Southall, Professional and Technical Writing). Christopher Keller, History, presented “Flatt & Scruggs and Martha White: Complicating Nostalgia in Bluegrass TV.”
Robert Kitchens, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, presented “Murder by Dynamite and Other Stories: Visions of Staging Contemporary Appalachian Performance. Jordan Laney, ASPECT, participated in the “Examining Feminism in Appalachia through Contemporary Issues: A Discussion of Intersections and Place” roundtable. Ricky Mullins, Curriculum and Instruction, presented “Coal Power: Four Stories of How the Coal Industry Affected Individual Lives in Central Appalachia.” Micah Untiedt, School of Performing Arts/Theatre Arts, “The Crockett House, Circa 1840: Endangered Appalachian History in Seven Mile Ford, Virginia.” Shelby Ward, ASPECT, presented ‘‘The Appalachian in Exile: Redrawing Regional Boundary Lines with the Poetic Imaginaries of a Wandering, Mountainous Body.’”
In addition, the following master’s students in the Material Culture and Public Humanities program, under the direction of Danille Christensen, Religion and Culture, as curator, designed #HandsOn: Skill and Creativity in Southwest Virginia, an exhibit of their fieldwork: Elizabeth Howard, Danielle Lewandowski, Kendall Lucy, Heather Lyne, Martina Svyantek, Sarah Taylor, Drew Walton, Moriah Webster, and Elizabeth Wells.
Numerous faculty from across the university presented papers and served as discussants, contributing to the largest Appalachian Studies conference ever, with 1,045 registrants, approximately 500 attendees at public events, and more than 210 sessions.