Nationally acclaimed writers featured in Maryville College's Appalachian Lecture Series

June 17, 2003
David Rasnake, Communications Assistant

Looking for a good read this summer? Maryville College might be able to recommend a few books, all written by writers who will be featured this fall in the College’s annual Appalachian Lecture Series.

This year’s series, beginning Sept. 9 and entitled “Award-Winning Writers,” includes readings and presentations by three noted novelists and poets whose talents are appreciated and recognized by millions of readers inside and outside the Appalachian region.

“ This year, we have decided to focus on an all-writers series, given the number of local book clubs,” said Dr. Chad Berry, Maryville College associate professor of history and lecture series coordinator. “Our hope is that readers will delve into the books over the summer and turn out to meet these writers come September.”

Acclaimed author Robert Morgan will officially kick off the 2003 series on Sept. 9 with his lecture and presentation, “The Voice of the Story.” The author of the award-winning and best selling novel “Gap Creek,” an Oprah Book Club selection in 2000 and winner of the Southern Book Award for fiction, Morgan’s writings have earned praise from readers and critics across the nation.

Additionally, Morgan published nine volumes of poetry and four additional books of fiction, including “The Hinterlands” and “This Rock.” A new novel set during the American Revolution, entitled “Brave Enemies,” is due out this year.

In “The Voice of the Story,” Morgan will discuss growing up in a storytelling family in western North Carolina, weaving short passages from recent works into his reminiscing.

Morgan studied at Emory College at Oxford and at North Carolina State University before earning a bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an M.F.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He currently teaches English at Cornell University.

On Oct. 7, Kentucky writer Silas House will visit the Maryville College campus to present the second lecture in the 2003 series.

House began “finding his heritage,” the title of his presentation, while writing his latest novel, “A Parchment of Leaves.” The work recently won the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and sold out of its first printing before it was even published. House’s first novel, “Clay’s Quilt,” was called “perfect” by USA Today and became a national bestseller in paperback, winning the ForeWord Magazine Bronze Book Award.

Beyond his work as a novelist, House is a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered.” He lives in Lily, Ky., with his wife and two daughters and is currently working on his third novel, as well as a collection of short stories.

Author Mary Bozeman Hodges will conclude the Appalachian Lecture Series on Nov. 4 with her presentation, “Delights and Dangers in Using Appalachian Dialect.”

Hodges has authored a number of short stories and poems, as well as a collection of short stories, “Tough Customers and Other Stories,” published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation in 1999 and now in its second printing.

Described by Wilma Dykeman as a “storyteller in the best Southern Appalachian tradition,” Hodges will focus on the use of dialect in creating a sense of place, pushing the theme and developing true characters. Drawing examples from some of her favorite writers as well as her own characters, she will discuss how Appalachian speech can be recorded on the page through the use of rhythm, choice of words and natural metaphors.

Reared in Jefferson City, Tenn., Hodges has taught English at Carson-Newman College for 14 years. She received a bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and earned her master’s from the University of Tennessee.

“ Each year I find myself being more pleased that the College has sustained the Appalachian Lecture Series, which began quite modestly as a way to support the library’s collections in Appalachian studies,” Berry observes. “With recent support from an especially generous donor, we’ve been able to invite more nationally recognized speakers.”

All three lectures begin at 7 p.m. in Lawson Auditorium of Fayerweather Hall on the Maryville College campus