Appalachian hosts annual Appalachian Studies Conference

Joshua Farmer

Appalachian State University will host the 36th annual Appalachian Studies Conference March 22-24, an event last hosted by Appalachian in 1998.

“There will be a lot of interesting papers, films, presentations, music, readings and discussions throughout the daytime,” said Mark Freed, an adjunct instructor at Appalachian and Boone’s Cultural Resources Coordinator. “The conference really offers something for everyone, with most disciplines represented, from humanities to sciences to arts and more.”

Each year, a different region in the Appalachian Mountains is chosen to host the event, which includes different presentations and workshops. Last year, over 700 Appalachian scholars and enthusiasts went to Pennsylvania for the event.

Rebecca Keeter, a professor in the Appalachian cultural arts and theatre and dance department, said the conference is important to Appalachian students because of the strong sense of culture within the community.

“When students come up to Appalachian, the culture becomes part of their heritage and they’ll always remember it,” Keeter said.

Keeter said she plans to attend the conference.

“Whether they take a class, learn how to dance, learn how to play an instrument or hear an instrument being played, they are going to get the exposure here that they wouldn’t get if they were at another school,” Keeter said. “It is a part of what this community is.”

Phillip Jamison is a professor at Warren Wilson College who teaches in the Appalachian music, Appalachian studies and mathematics departments. He is acknowledged by Appalachian Scholars as the leading scholar of traditional dance calling in the world and has attended the conference every year since 2001.

“ASU has a very strong program in Appalachian Studies, and also the amazing Appalachian materials collection in the library, so that alone makes it a great place to come,” Jamison said. “I usually attend various sessions and I do learn something new every year, but I also make connections with people with similar interests in the region.”

Legends will host the conference’s community events.

There will be a $2 social at Legends that people can attend to visit and socialize Friday at 8 p.m.

Legends will also feature a concert with local traditional music, storytelling and dance Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The concert will be followed by an Appalachian-style square dance with a Watauga-based old-time string band and some of the nation’s top dance callers.

“The Appalachian region has, for generations, had a certain mystique in the minds of Americans,” Jamison said. “Some of the mystique of the region and uniqueness of the region is true and some of it is not, but it remains to be a distinctive region in our country and so it has been a fascinating region to study.”

Story: JORDAN MILLER, Intern News Reporter