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CONTEMPORARY APPALACHIAN LITERATURE: ASSUMPTIONS & ANALYSIS
by Mikala Jones, 8 Sessions, Mondays, January 25 – March 15, 4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Appalachian stories have often been written by outsiders whose limited experiences misrepresented locals’ realities. Publication affords power; therefore, one’s perspective and how that perspective bleeds into accessible texts can distort the real in detrimental ways—despite positive intentions. With these abstract claims, I mean to address how Contemporary Appalachian Literature seeks to redress inaccurate narratives. Connecting Ron Rash’s work to that of his former student’s, David Joy, we will discuss how these Contemporary Appalachian authors reframe the region through their fiction.
While Rash and Joy will be the prominent focus of our course, we will also engage with additional Appalachian writers because to bury the diversity of the region is to cheapen the strength of all Appalachian voices. We will focus on two books: Nothing Gold Can Stay by Ron Rash and When These Mountains Burn by David Joy. Excerpts from additional authors will be provided via emailed pdfs.
Mikala Jones joined Young Harris College’s English faculty in 2020 soon after earning a Master of Arts degree in English Composition and Rhetoric from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Young Harris College. Mikala focuses her scholarly work on prison writing programs, literacy studies, and community-engaged pedagogies, and her hobbies include hiking, stamp carving, and—of course—both reading and writing. A few of her favorite writers include Dorothy Allison, Paul Auster, Ernest Hemingway, and Claudia Rankine.