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Voices from the Misty Mountains, July 8-28, 2018

Perhaps one of the most misunderstood parts of the country, Appalachia has produced a veritable renaissance of extraordinary writers and artists in the past several decades. These “Voices from the Misty Mountains” will serve to enlighten and enthrall participants in Shepherd University’s NEH Summer Institute for Teachers.

Over the course of the seminar, participants will take part in an Appalachian storytelling workshop led by an award-winning storyteller. They will explore Appalachian music, important in the cultural heritage and in much of the literature we will explore. A field trip that includes an extraordinary Appalachian road-trip to the Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia, and to the Hawks Nest Industrial Disaster site at Hawks Nest State Park, which figures prominently in Denise Giardina’s Saints and Villains, will further provide experiential learning and exploration of the Appalachian themes and works gaged to enrich the understanding and experience of NEH participants.

Perhaps the most stimulating part of the summer seminar will be the Contemporary American Theater Festival (CATF). Seminar participants will be on campus during the July 2018 season of CATF and will have the opportunity to attend all of the season’s plays as well as mingle with the actors, playwrights, and array of talented people that come to Shepherdstown for this national theater event. To be in Shepherdstown, the oldest town in West Virginia producing the newest contemporary American theater, will present a lasting intellectual and cultural experience for participants in this NEH Summer Institute for Teachers. The CATF summer series is known for its cutting-edge theater that challenges public prejudice, stereotyping, issues of class and racial intolerance, and the status quo, all ideas explored through the literature studied in the seminar.

Intended Outcomes for the Seminar:

  1. to explore the range and variety of literature created by Appalachian writers, as well as the dramatic, historical, music/ballad and oral storytelling that characterizes the region;
  2. to achieve an understanding of the culture, history, and heritage of a region often stereotyped and misunderstood;
  3. to provide professional development opportunities for participants so that they can become better educators;
  4. to encourage participants to engage in critical thinking and interaction with colleagues from across the country from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines in order to expand the intellectual depth and experience of all participants; and
  5. to broaden participants’ experience and understanding as they are challenged to recognize the power of storytelling and giving voice to the voiceless, through the literature explored in the institute,through the contemporary American plays presented in the CATF season, and through the other storytelling activities and events encountered during the three-week institute