Participation Type

Panel

Session Title

Revolution and Independence: Women in Appalachian Literature, Diversity and Unity in the Works of House, Laskas, and Giovanni

Session Abstract or Summary

These three papers deal with Appalachian women, as presented in and through literature, who reveal both the revolution and independence of the Appalachian female across time and ethnicity. The literary personas of Silas House (A Parchment of Leaves), Gretchen Moran Laskas (The Midwife's Tale), and Nikki Giovanni (Chasing Utopia and other volumes) portray the resourcefulness and diversity of women in the region, when cast as "other" and faced with prevailing in a patriarchal world that often marginalizes then. A variety of critical approaches will be used in the papers, and both the poetry and prose discussed complement the racial and cultural diversity of these literary Appalachian women.

Presentation #1 Title

“Vine in Silas House’s A Parchment of Leaves: An Eco-Feminist Interpretation”

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House lends itself to an eco-feminist interpretation, as we explore how Vine is connected to the land as symbol and metaphor. Vine’s role as a Cherokee and Appalachian woman alienates her from society and ties her to a more natural state of being. This paper will explore the meaning of ecofeminism and other critical approaches as they are put in the context of House’s work.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Danielle is a Shepherd University McMurran Scholar and double major in English and English Language Arts. She has presented scholarly work at forums and will student teach in the spring. Danielle is an editor of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, Nikki Giovanni Volume VIII.

Presentation #2 Title

“Women as Keepers of the Legends in The Midwife’s Tale”

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary

This paper will explore the concept of women as the keepers of the mythologies, histories, and secrets of a community; in the process, we will see how the centralization of patriarchal social power places women in the realm of the “other.” Gretchen Moran Laskas’s first novel The Midwife’s Tale is essentially about storytelling and role that women play in the telling our stories, a role that ultimately ostracizes them from the community.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Kristin is a McMurran Scholar, the highest academic honor at Shepherd University. She is a Board Member of the Appalachian Studies Program at Shepherd, and published scholar. Kristin will student teach in the spring.

Presentation #3 Title

“Nikki Giovanni: Chasing the Revolution”

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary

Like Voltaire, whose “garden” was the revolutionary and sometimes incendiary writing that made him a “gadfly to the state,” Giovanni’s “garden” is what Virginia Fowler asserts as “her vision of society, culture, and life itself: a belief in the necessity to fight injustice wherever it appears and in whatever form; a commitment to an historical perspective, to looking at the present with a fully informed sense of the past, a respect, often even a reverence, for the past and present struggles of African-American people; a desire to find underlying connections between and among people and events; and, of course an abiding belief in the integrity and the power of the individual” (Racism 101 6). Giovanni says that like Voltaire, “I plant geraniums. . . . I write poetry and sometimes prose. No one will know me . . . let alone what I thought I did. But while I live, during this all too brief period between birth and death, my life and work have been meaningful to me. The rest is silence’’ (29). This paper will explore the prose and poetry of Nikki Giovanni that reveals her attempt to bring about a “revolution of the self” and break down the barriers of race to achieve unity and diversity in the American cultural landscape.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

Shurbutt is author of books and articles about Appalachia, she is managing editor of the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, and has given scholarly papers at a variety of conferences and seminars. Shurbutt is Project Director of West Virginia's only NEH Summer Seminar for Teachers, Voices from the Misty Mountains.

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“Vine in Silas House’s A Parchment of Leaves: An Eco-Feminist Interpretation”

A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House lends itself to an eco-feminist interpretation, as we explore how Vine is connected to the land as symbol and metaphor. Vine’s role as a Cherokee and Appalachian woman alienates her from society and ties her to a more natural state of being. This paper will explore the meaning of ecofeminism and other critical approaches as they are put in the context of House’s work.