Thursday, February 3, 2011

2011 Summer Seminar

The Department of English at West Virginia University announces its 2011 Summer Seminar in Literary and Cultural Studies, "American Magic: The Fates of Folk & Fairy Tales in the Appalachians," June 9-12, 2011.

The seminar will be led by Carl Lindahl, Martha Gano Houstoun Research Professor of English and Folklore at the University of Houston, who has emerged as a champion of the Appalachian folk- and fairy-tale (märchen) tradition, both in historical context and contemporary performance.

This non-credit seminar addresses several issues in the history and conceptions of Appalachian oral fiction. Why did American märchen go almost totally undocumented for two centuries, between the time it was first attested and the publication of Richard Chase's The Jack Tales (1943)? Why did American märchen collectors concentrate almost exclusively upon male narrators and tales in which the protagonists were males? Why has the collection and study of märchen thrived in Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia, but not in fifth core Appalachian state, West Virginia? Most importantly, what is the nature of the märchen tradition as it has actually been practiced, and largely ignored, in recent generations?

To assess Appalachia's oral märchen traditions, the seminar will draw upon the collections of Leonard W. Roberts (1912-1983), who assembled the nations' largest corpus of field-recorded märchen (now housed at Berea College) as well as Lindahl's own collection, recorded in the same region where Roberts worked and sometimes from the same narrators whom Roberts recorded. The vast majority of Roberts's published tales were recorded in southeastern Kentucky near the Virginia border, but Roberts conducted substantial unpublished research at West Virginia Wesleyan University, and that work will be discussed in the seminar.

Registration is $350 for faculty and $250 for graduate students, and is open until April 29, 2011.

Format: The seminar will begin with a public lecture at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 9th and conclude at noon on Sunday, June 12th. There are five, two-hour sessions during the seminar. By mid-May, registered participants will be provided with a list of readings to be completed before arrival at the seminar.

Seminar Site: West Virginia University is located in scenic north central West Virginia about 75 miles south of Pittsburgh, PA and 200 miles west of Washington, DC. Housing will be available on campus, and one local hotel is close by for those who prefer non-dormitory housing.

Please join us for all the pleasures of an academic seminar--provocative readings, great discussion, and expert leadership--without the stress: no papers, no final projects, no grades!

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