TMC Faculty/Students Embrace Urban Appalachian Interests

TMC Faculty/Students Embrace Urban Appalachian Interests

Thomas More College is proud to serve as a presenting sponsor and partner for the 41st Annual Appalachian Studies Association (ASA) Conference, hosted April 5-8 by the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition (UACC). This is the first time the Conference takes place in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is located slightly beyond the official borders of Appalachia but holds a significant Urban Appalachian population. The event takes place at the downtown Millennium and Hyatt Hotels and expects to attract more than 1,000 attendees across disciplines, professions, and service areas.

Sherry Cook Stanforth

Thomas More College (TMC) faculty, students, and alumni will present various projects inspired by this year’s theme, “Re-Stitching the Seams: Appalachia Beyond Its Borders,” in the spirit of creatively examining Appalachian issues both in and out of the region. “People are often surprised to find out about the significant Appalachian ties and migration history reflected in the residents who live in urban Cincinnati and Covington neighborhoods,” says Dr. Sherry Cook Stanforth, TMC English professor and director of Creative Writing Vision, a literary outreach program featuring both local and regional author/artists connected to the Appalachian region. “Our college’s energetic involvement in the conference is out of interest for the thousands upon thousands of Appalachians who contribute richly within our own local culture. Many of us who are presenting research or performing at this year’s gathering embrace that heritage in personal ways.”

Stanforth, who is also a steward member of UACC, states that her TMC affiliates represent a strong showing within the six major conference subthemes, which include Diversity and Inclusion, Economic Development, Education, Environmental Sustainability, Health, and Migration.

TMC’s involvement by date at the conference includes:

April 6 | Friday

  • 10-11:15 a.m.
    • Performance Panel features Stanforth’s family music in “Youth Expressions of Appalachian

      Dick Hague

      Identity in a Three-Generation Family Band”

    • Panel co-presentation by TMC Writer-in-residence Dick Hague: “Earnest Occupations and Learning How”
  • 4-5:15 p.m. Public event | Mercantile Library: “Writing the Region Writers Workshop” features Dick Hague and Pauletta Hansel (current and former TMC Writer-in-residence). Limited to 20 participants. Pre-register at
  • 9-11 p.m. Public event | Arnolds Bar & Grill: “Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative Annual Read Around and Swarp” includes Hague, Hansel and Stanforth

April 7 | Saturday

  •  8:30-9:30 a.m. Mini-plenary session: “Don’t Cry for Us, JD Vance (Or, The News of Our Death Has Been Greatly Exaggerated)” includes includes Hague, Hansel and Stanforth
  • 9:45-11 a.m. Performance “Crazy Quilt Poetry: Thomas More College Students Swap the First Pieces of the Urban Appalachian Project” featuring TMC students Courtney Barnoski, Brook Batch, Erin Carrus, Jeni Hall, Keegan Harrahan
  • 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
    • Experiential Panel co-presentation by TMC English alumna Kathryn Trauth Taylor ’08 “The Urban Appalachian Project; Young Identity Beyond the Mountains”
    • Roundtable including TMC philosophy professor Catherine Sherron: “Breaking Down Barriers to End-of-Life Conversations and Planning in Greater Cincinnati Appalachian Communities”
  • 3-4:15 p.m.
    • Panel includes TMC student Jeni Hall’s presentation, “The Search for Economic Diversity in Kentucky”
    • Performance panel includes Stanforth in “Appalachia Here: New and Recent Work by Poets in the Greater Cincinnati Area”
  • 7:30-9:30 p.m. Public program: Urban Appalachian Showcase at the Aronoff Center, Jarson-Kaplan Theater, includes arts-based performances by includes Hague, Hansel and Stanforth

Pauletta Hansel

April 8 | Sunday

  • 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Roundtable includes Hansel and Stanforth: “Sustaining a Movement Through Appalachian Writers’ Gatherings

In the months leading up to the ASA Conference, Thomas More College’s Creative Writing Vision program collaborated with the UACC, the Cincinnati Arts Association, and the Covington Center for Great Neighborhoods to design and implement interactive, multi-genre “Express Appalachia” arts programs celebrating local Appalachian diversity and creativity. These Creative Writing Vision offerings included an interactive, arts-based teacher resource workshop in October 2017,  a public open mic event at the Covington Center for Great Neighborhoods emphasizing diverse cultural identities and a School Time program staged at the Aronoff’s Jarson-Kaplan Theater in February 2018. Audiences experienced a combination of Appalachian literature, music, dance, and storytelling in the spirit of the ASA conference theme to inspire reflection “beyond borders” in the Greater Cincinnati community.

“I’m very excited about the College’s commitment to promote Appalachian heritage on both sides of the river,” says Stanforth, adding that the Creative Writing Vision mission overlaps with both UACC and ASA values for fostering cultural respect, creative reflection, and transformative dialogue and action among communities. “Our students recognize that the Appalachian spirit has the power to move past fixed definitions of home and identity. They are expressing their art and ideas in public programs with the goal of bringing diverse groups of people together to grow a better community.”

The ASA has designated Saturday, April 7, as “Community Day,” extending an invitation to members of the public to attend mini-plenary sessions and daytime presentations at no cost.

See the Facebook event at

For more information and Community Day pre-registration, see

The Urban Appalachian Showcase is supported by Cincinnati Arts Association and ArtsWave. Miami University Regionals Appalachian Studies serves as co-sponsor.

See the Facebook event

Information and tickets at

To learn about local events held by the Urban Appalachian Community Coalition visit,

To learn more about Thomas More College’s Creative Writing Vision program, contact