The Appalachian Studies Association and Berea College recently presented University Press of Kentucky (UPK) author Emily Satterwhite with the Weatherford Award for the best nonfiction book in Appalachian studies published in 2011 for “Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878.” The award recognizes published works that “best illuminate the challenges, personalities, and unique qualities of the Appalachian South.”
Weatherford Awards are given in the categories of nonfiction, fiction and poetry. They are named for Willis D. Weatherford Jr. and Sr. for their contributions to the Appalachian region. The award was presented to Satterwhite at the Appalachian Studies Conference, held March 23, at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
“I’m moved. This is the highest honor I can imagine,” said Satterwhite, an assistant professor of Appalachian studies, American studies and popular culture at Virginia Tech.
“Dear Appalachia” explores the responses of readers to best-selling fiction set in Appalachia, discovering how readers imagine the region and what purposes these imagined geographies serve for them. Satterwhite employs an innovative research strategy, sifting through fan mail and reviews to better understand the relationships between reader and text. “Dear Appalachia” goes beyond an explanation of how people view the region to tackle the question of why people think the way they do, arguing that the fictional accounts of the area are not inherently responsible for creating or destroying stereotypes. Instead, the author suggests that readers create their own interpretations of the text, imagining the versions of Appalachia they find most comforting. This is Satterwhite’s first book.
According to its website, the Appalachian Studies Association was created for the purpose of furthering education about the Appalachian region as well as to promote and engage dialogue, research, scholarship, education, creative expression, and action among scholars, educators, practitioners, grassroots activists, students, individuals, groups, and institutions.
Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of UPK are found at the University of Kentucky, which provides financial support toward the operating expenses of the publishing operation.