This year marks the centenary of when English folk song collectors, Cecil Sharp and Maud Karpeles, first collected songs in the Appalachian mountains – an event that shaped both North American and European conceptions of the history and culture of the southern mountains. Coincidentally, 2015 was the centenary of the birth of the prolific American folklorist, Alan Lomax. The image of the region that Lomax crafted in the selection of songs recorded on journeys undertaken for the Library of Congress and the Public Broadcasting Service differed from the one constructed by Sharp. While Sharp viewed the southern mountains as a pastoral idyll where the pre-industrial traditions of Britain still flourished, Lomax saw Appalachian culture as a synthesis of cultures – African, Native American and European – upon which a distinctly American identity was built.
To celebrate the centenaries of Sharp and Lomax, the English Folk Dance and Song Society is co-organising with Shepherdstown University, West Virginia, a conference exploring Appalachian culture to be held on 16th July 2016 at Cecil Sharp House, London.
This one-day conference will explore the tension between continuity and change in the cultural and social construction of Appalachia from the 19th century to the present. The conference will contextualise how locals and outsiders made sense of Appalachian culture and how these interpretations of the region’s traditions fed into broader understandings about British and American culture, history and identity. We seek proposals from scholars from across the humanities at all stages of their careers. We are particularly interested in papers that address:
Industrialisation, economic change and regional culture.
Urbanisation and emigration.
Appalachian art and literature.
Ballad collection, folk music, and the cultural construction of Appalachia.
European perceptions of southern Appalachia.
African American Appalachia.
Folk tradition and 20th century counter-culture.
The legacies of Cecil Sharp and Alan Lomax.
Participants will be organised into panels and each submission should be approximately 20 minutes in length.
If you would like to present a paper or talk at the Appalachian conference, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please tell us a bit about yourself and include the title of your talk with a short synopsis.
Deadline: 31st March 2016
For more information, go to www.vwml.org/appalachianconference