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IUP will host the 35th annual Appalachian Studies Association national conference, March 23–25, 2012, featuring more than 500 presenters from across the country and beyond.

This will be the association's first national conference north of the Mason-Dixon Line. The conference theme, “The Wide Reach of Appalachia,” reflects that Appalachia stretches well into Pennsylvania.

Presentations will cover a range of topics, including Marcellus shale, the Appalachian literature of Pennsylvania, the impact of the Civil War along the Mason-Dixon Line, and the food of the region. About 50 IUP faculty members, professors emeriti, graduate students, and alumni will present scholarly talks, literature, creative writing, and film showings at the conference.

Concert and Keynote: Si Kahn

A highlight of the event is the March 24 concert by singer-songwriter Si Kahn, who has written many folk songs and books about the region's workers. The concert, open to the public, will be at 8:00 p.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center's Fisher Auditorium.

Kahn has released 16 albums and was honored by the Folk Alliance as 2010's top folk artist.

In addition to the public concert, Kahn will lead a workshop and deliver the conference's keynote address, focusing on the history of community and labor organizing in Appalachia.

All conference presentations, including Kahn's keynote speech and workshop, are open only to those registered for the conference.

Key Speakers/Presentations

Other key speakers and presentations include the following:

  • John A. Williams, Appalachian State University, author of Appalachia: A History, presenting “Pennsylvania as Greater Appalachia: Historical Perspectives”
  • Robert F. Cahalan, NASA, member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Prize with Al Gore, presenting “Appalachian Impacts of Global Warming: Reasons for Hope”
  • Susan M. Taffe Reed, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “The Significance of Powwows to Native Americans in Pennsylvania's Appalachia”
  • Chad Montrie, University of Massachusetts Lowell, author of To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia and A People's History of Environmentalism in the United States, presenting “Two Countries, One Struggle: Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia and Northern Colombia”
  • James Loewen, Catholic University, author of Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism and Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong, presenting “Uncovering Racist Sundown Towns in Appalachia and across the Nation”

Conference Registration

Early registration for the conference is $125 for adults and $75 for students, which includes all conference activities and a one-year membership to the Appalachian Studies Association. After March 2, registration will cost $150 for adults and $100 for students.

Tickets for the Si Kahn concert may be purchased beginning February 20 at the Hadley Union Building or by calling 724-357-1313. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students. They are also available for conference registrants at the discounted price of $10 for adults and $8 for students on the conference website.

IUP's Center for Northern Appalachian Studies, directed by Jim Dougherty, Sociology Department, aims to “celebrate and educate about Appalachia.”

Dougherty and Jim Cahalan, professor of English at IUP, are coordinating the March national conference.

“We need to redefine the people of Appalachia as whoever's here, and Southern and Eastern Europeans have been here for generations,” Cahalan said. “My students can be startled by the maps of Western Pennsylvania smack in the middle of northern Appalachia, maybe because poor white Appalachians, the last people it's perfectly safe to stereotype in the popular media, are so often portrayed as hillbillies.”

—Emily Weber, IUP student writer