Course name: A Readings Seminar in the History of Appalachia
Department, course #, level: History 650-1, graduate
Semester(s) and year(s) taught (without significant variation): Every other year, 1985-2000
Institution: University of Kentucky
Instructor(s): Ron Eller
1753 Patterson Office Tower
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY 40506

Spring 1998


With Dr. Ron Eller

?History 650-1 is a graduate readings seminar that explores the historiography of Appalachia from the colonial settlement to the present. As an advanced seminar, it assumes that participants have acquired a general knowledge of the history of Appalachia from previous reading or introductory courses. In this course participants will read broadly in the recent historical literature on Appalachia and discuss the quality of that research, trends in historical interpretation, and areas for potential new scholarship in the field. In the process, participants will not only acquire a better understanding of the forces that have shaped contemporary Appalachia but of the historiography of recent American history in areas such as frontier culture, the market revolution, the Civil War, labor history, the industrial revolution, economic development, and the public policy programs of the Great Society. This course is designed to assist students who will be teaching or conducting research on the history of Appalachia, the South and other American sub-regions.

Seminar Format: This seminar will be based upon the discussion of common readings of five core texts and selected readings drawn from eleven categories of historical literature on Appalachia. Discussion will be generated by common readings of classic texts and by short (ten minute) oral reviews of selected books from each category. In addition to the discussion of common readings, each student will be expected to present two oral reviews, submit two three-four page written review essays, and complete an 10-12 page historiographical essay on an individually selected topic of interest in Appalachian history. Combined readings should total a minimum of 3,000 pages. Historiographical essays should be based on a minimum of five monographs in the subject area. Committed students, of course, will read far more than the minimum requirement. A list of books and articles read for the course will be submitted with the final historiographical essay.

Common Texts:

Pudup, Billings, and Waller, eds., Appalachian in the Making: The Mountain South in the Nineteenth Century (1995, University of North Carolina Press)

Henry Shapiro, Appalachia on Our Mind: The Southern Mountains and Mountaineers in the American Consciousness (University of North Carolina Press)

Ronald D Eller, Miners, Millhands and Mountaineers: The Industrialization of the Appalachian South (1982, University of Tennessee Press)

David Whisnant, Modernizing the Mountaineer: People, Power, and Planning in Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press)

David Whisnant, All That Is Native and Fine: The Politics of Culture in an American Subregion (University of North Carolina Press)


Evaluation: Grades will be based upon the following critieria:

??Discussion and Oral Reviews ??? .............20%

??Two Book Review Essays................???? 40%

??Historiographical Essay/Reading List.... ?? 40%


Review Essays: Students will prepare a written review and an oral presentation on at least two major books during the course of the semester. Review essays should be typed (double spaced), well organized, and written in a lively rather than a wooden style. The essays should be evaluative rather than just a summary of the contents of the book, and they should place the book in the larger context of the historiography of the subject, i.e. contrast or compare with something else written about the subject. A copy should be submitted to the instructor and another copy should be brought to class for use as a reference during the discussion. Headings for these essays should list the complete title, press, and date of publication for the book reviewed.


Historiographical Essay: An historiographical essay is a critical review of the major literature on an historical subject, focusing on the major schools of thought, conflicting interpretations and new directions for research. Essays should not be summaries of the content of these books but a critical evaluation of the major themes and ideas presented by the authors. Finally, an historiographical essay is your evaluation of where the historical research on this subject is at this time and where you think it needs to go. What questions are yet to be asked? What sources are yet to be pursued? What theories are yet to be analyzed? Essays should be limited to approximately ten pages in length, double-spaced, and are due on the last day of the seminar.



Spring 1998
Time: Tuesday 12:00-1:50PM

Date Topic Common Reading
1/19 Class Orientation?  
1/26 No Class (reading day)  
2/2 The Appalachian Frontier??Pudup Billings and Waller, Chps. 1-3
2/9 Appalachia and the Civil War??Pudup Billings and Waller, Chps 4-7
2/16?? Nineteenth Century Economy??Pudup Billings and Waller, Chps 8-9
    Eller, Miners, Chp.1
2/23?? Nineteenth Century Transformation?Pudup Billings & Waller, Chps 10-13
    Eller. Miners, Chp 2
3/2 The Idea of Appalachia?? Shapiro, Appalachia, all
3/9 Missionaries and Mountaineers Whisnant, All That Is Native, all

???????3/16?UK SPRING BREAK

3/23 Industrialization of Appalachia Eller, Miners, Chps. 3-4
3/30 Coal, Culture and Community Eller, Miners, Chps 5-6
4/6?? Appalachia At Mid-Passage Eller, Miners, Chp. 7
    Whisnant, Modernizing, Chps 1-2
4/13 Appalachia & Politics of Poverty
???Whisnant, Modernizing, Chps 3-6
4/20 Appalachia at the Millennium  
??Historiographical Essays Due



  1. The Frontier Period

    David Colin Crass, et al, eds. The Southern Colonial Backcountry: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Frontier Communities (Knoxville: UT Press, 1998)

    John A. Caruso, The Appalachian Frontier

    Robert D. Mitchell, Appalachian Frontiers: Settlement, Society and Development in the Pre-industrial Era (1990)

    John Finger, The Eastern Band of Cherokees, 1819-1900 (University of Tennessee Press, 1984)

    Otis Rice, The Allegheny Frontier (University Press of Kentucky 1970)

  2. The Civil War

    Kenneth Noe and Shannon Wilson, eds. The Civil War in Appalachia: Collected Essays (UT Press, 1997)

    Kenneth Noe, Southwest Virginia's Railroad: Modernization and the Sectional

    ?Crisis (Univ. of Illinois, 1994)

    Phillip S. Paludan, Victims: A True Story of the Civil War

    ?James W. Patton, Unionism and Reaction in Tennessee

    John Inscoe, Mountain Masters: Slavery and the Sectional Crisis in Western North Carolina (1989)

  3. Nineteenth Century Appalachia

    Durwood Dunn, Cades Cove: A Southern Appalachian Community (Knoxville: UT Press, 1988)

    Harriette Arnow, Seedtime on the Cumberland

    John C. Campbell, The Southern Highlander and HisHomeland (1921)

    Horace Kephart, Our Southern Highlanders (1913)

    Robert M. Ireland, Little Kingdoms: The Counties of Kentucky, 1850-1891

  4. Nineteenth Century Transformation

    Altina Waller, Feud: Hatfields, McCoys, and Social Change in Appalachia, 1860-1900 (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1988)

    Barbara Rasmussen, Absentee Landowning and Exploitation in West Virignia, 1760-1920 (U Press of KY, 1994)

    Wilma Dunaway, The First American Frontier: Transition to Capitalism in

    ?Southern Appalachia, 1700 and 1860. (Chapel Hll, 1996)

    Gordon B.McKinney, Southern Mountain Republicans, 1865-1900 (Chapel Hill, 1978)


  5. The Idea of Appalachia

    David C. Hsiung, Two Worlds in the Tennessee Mountains: Exploring the Origins of Appalachian Stereotypes (U Press of Ky, 1997)

    Cunningham, Rodger. Apples on the Flood: The Southern Mountain Experience (Knoxville, University of Tennessee Press, 1987)

    Allen W. Batteau, The Invention of Appalachia (Arizona, 1990)

    Dwight Billings and Katherine Ledford, eds., Recycling Appalachia: Backtalk From an American Region (University Press of Kentucky, 1999)

  6. Missionaries and Culture In Appalachia

    J.W. Williamson, Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains and What the Mountains Did to the Movies (UNC Press, 1995)

    Deborah Vansau McCauley, Appalachian Mountain Religion (University of Illinois Press, 1995)

    Harry Caudill, Night Comes to the Cumberlands: Biography of a Depressed Area (1963)

    Jack Weller, Yesterday’s People: Life in Contemporary Appalachia (1965)

    Helen Lewis, et al, eds. Colonialism In Modern America: The Appalachian Case (1978)

  7. The Industrial Transformation

    Paul Salstrom, Appalachia’s Path to Dependency: Rethinking A Region’s Economic History, 1730-1940 (U Press of KY, 1994)

    John C. Hennen, The Americanization of West Virginia: Creating a Modern Industrial State, 1916-1925 (U Press of Ky, 1996)

    John Gaventa, Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an AppalachianValley ?(Urbana, 1980)

    John A. Williams, West Virginia and the Captains of Industry (1976)

    Ronald Lewis, Transforming the Appalachian Countryside: Railroads, Deforestation, and Social Change in West Virginia, 1880-1920 (Chapel Hill, 1998)

  8. Coal, Culture and Community

    Crandall Shiflett, Coal Towns: Life, Work and Culture in Company Towns of Southern Appalachia,1880-1960 (1991)

    Joe William Trotter, Coal, Class, and Color: Blacks in Southern West Virginia 1915-32 (1990)

    Lewis, Ronald L., Black Coal Miners in America: Race, Class, and Community Conflict, 1780-1980 Lexington, University Press of Kentucky, 1987

    Daniel Letwin, The Challenge of Interracial Unionism: Alabama Coal Miners, 1878-1921 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).

    David Corbin, Life, Work and Rebellion in the Coal Fields: The Southern West Virginia Miners, 1880-1922 (University of Illinois Press, 1981)

    Harry Caudill, Theirs Be the Power

  9. Appalachia at Mid-Passage

    Jerry Bruce Thomas, An Appalachian New Deal: West Virginia in the Great Depression (University Press of Kentucky, 1998)

    Michael McDonald and Michael Muldowny, TVA and the Dispossessed

    National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners, Harlan Miners Speak (1932)

    John W. Hevener, Which Side are You On? The Harlan County Coal Miners, 1931-39 (Urbana, 1978)

    Thomas Ford, ed. The Southern Appalachian Region: A Survey (1967)

  10. The Politics of Poverty

    Michael Bradshaw, The Appalachian Regional Commission: Twenty-Five Years of Government Policy (U Press of KY, 1992)

    Harry Caudill, The Watches of the Night: A New Plea for Appalachia (1976)

    Joseph Finley, The Corrupt Kingdom: The Rise and Fall of the UMW

    David Walls and John B.Stephenson, ed., Appalachia in the Sixties: Decade of Reawakening (1972)

    Barbara E. Smith, Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the

    Struggle Over Black Lung Disease (Temple University Press,1987)


  11. Appalachia at the Millennium

Mary Ann Hinsdale, Helen Lewis and Maxine Waller, It Comes From the People: Community Development and Local Theology (Temple U Press, 1995)

Kathryn Borman and Phillip Obermiller, eds. From Mountain To Metropolis: Appalachian Migrants in American Cities (1994)

Appalachian Land Ownership Task Force, Who Owns Appalachia?: Landownership and Its Impact (1983)

Richard A. Couto, An American Challenge: A Report on Economic Trends and Social Issues in Appalachia (Kendall/Hunt Publishing, Dubuque, Iowa, 1994)

Stephen L. Fisher, ed., Fighting Back in Appalachia: Traditions of Resistance and Change (Temple University Press, 1993)

Ada F. Haynes, Poverty In Central Appalachia: Underdevelopment and Exploitation (Garland, 1997)

Anthony Salatino, Will Appalachia Finally Overcome Poverty? (1995)


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