The Appalachian Studies Program Prepares for the Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference

BOONE, N.C. — The 47th Annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference will be held on the campus of Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, for the first time from March 7 through 9, 2024. The theme of this year's conference is “Beloved Community: Pride in Identity, Culture and Geography.” A contingent of faculty, scholars, and graduate students from Appalachian State University’s Appalachian studies program will once again have a strong presence at the event.

“We’re very enthusiastic about participating again in the ASA Conference,” said Trevor McKenzie, director of App State's Center for Appalachian Studies. “As usual, there’s effervescence and high expectations for this pivotal event, which just gets better and better with the years.” At the conference, McKenzie will present in the session “Memorializing Coal and Environmental Disasters in Appalachia.”

Appalachian Studies Program Director Dr. Julie Shepherd-Powell remarked, “This is one of our favorite annual events. There is a lot of interest in our master's program and I look forward to meeting people who want to be a part of our Appalachian studies family nestled in the mountains of Boone.” Dr. Shepherd-Powell will present on the panel “Comparative Mountain Epistemes: Exploring the Appalachian and the Drakensberg,” convened by Dr. Grey Magaiza from the University of the Free State, South Africa. App State’s strong partnership with the University of the Free State was fostered through a $500,000 mountain-to-mountain grant funded by the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in South Africa.

Dr. Katherine Ledford, professor of Appalachian studies in App State's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies and founding chair of the ASA's International Connections Committee, is the convener of the session “Fulbright Scholars: Taking Appalachia Abroad, Bringing the World to Appalachia.” In the session, Dr. Ledford will share her experience as a Fulbright Scholar at Al Ahliyya Amman University in Amman, Jordan in 2023.

Dr. Sandra Ballard, professor in App State's Department of English and editor of Appalachian Journal, will convene the roundtable session “Academic Publishing: Q&A with Editors.” The session will feature panelists Lucas Church (University of North Carolina Press), Abby Freeland (University Press of Kentucky), Nathaniel Holly (University of Georgia Press) and Beth Pratt (Ohio University Press).

Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Dr. Joseph Bathanti, professor in App State's Department of English, the McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education and writer-in-residence in the Watauga Residential College, will perform "A Reading of Mountaintop Removal Poems.”

Thomas Hansell, professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, co-director of App Docs and recipient of the 2023 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Engagement Award, will attend the ASA Conference to support Appalachian studies graduate students Jesse Barber, Caleb Brown and Sammy Osmond, all of whom are presenting work on the panel, “Fiber, Foodways, and Football: Diverse Approaches to Documenting Contemporary Life in Appalachia." Hansell will also participate in a roundtable discussion entitled “In These Mountains - Student and the Future of Documentation" with Lee Bidgood (East Tennessee State University), Teresa Hollingsworth (South Arts) and Heath Stiltner (East Tennessee State University), as well as Barber, Brown and Osmond.

Appalachian studies graduate student Elise Johnson will present in the “Essays on the Works of Robert Gipe and Silas House” panel discussion. The convener is Kennedy Sloop, graduate student at Appalachian State. Sloop's topic will be “Women as Environmental Activists in Appalachia as Seen Through Selected Works by Silas House and Robert Gipe.”

Appalachian studies graduate student Mae Turney will present “Reframing Modern Day Appalachia: The Dangerous Implications of Reductive Rhetoric” in the panel session "Hillbilly Stereotypes and Appalachian Identity."

App State alumna Maako Shiratori will present work with current Appalachian studies graduate student Yndiana Montes Fogelquist in the session “Diversity in Appalachian Old-time Music and Bluegrass Music." During the session, Yndiana will screen her 15-minute documentary “Everybody Loves Maako” and an excerpt of her new project on bluegrass, latingrass, and Joe Troop, of the “Venezuelachia” duo Larry & Joe. Maako, now studying ethnomusicology at Duke University, will present “Building a Network of 'Jappalachian' Musicking in North Carolina.”

Graduate students Katie Rodriguez, Lucy Coleman, Asa Johnson, Meredith Ahmed, Mason Smith, and Tonya Nagle will also attend the conference.

Eve Ganley, the administrative support specialist in the Center for Appalachian Studies, is attending the conference for the first time this year. The love and passion of our faculty and students is contagious, she said.

Appalachian studies is alive across the App State campus and beyond, from the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies where it is housed, to departments across campus with connections to the program, to Belk Library and Information Commons' W.L. Eury Appalachian Collection, the largest in the world. The passion for Appalachian history and culture continues to grow.

To learn more about the 47th Annual ASA Conference, visit


About the Center for Appalachian Studies
The Center for Appalachian Studies promotes public programs, community collaboration, civic engagement and scholarship in the Appalachian region. The center is committed to building healthy communities and deepening knowledge of Appalachia’s past, present and future through community-based research and engagement. Learn more at

About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at

About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at

Written by Yndiana Montes-Fogelquist
Edited by Lauren Gibbs

February 21, 2023

The 47th Annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference will be held on the campus of Western Carolina University, in Cullowhee, for the first time from March 7 through 9, 2024. The theme of this year's conference is “Beloved Community: Pride in Identity, Culture and Geography.”
Published: Feb 21, 2024 8:50am