Students enrolled in the Graduate Humanities Program explore broad interdisciplinary issues through a diverse array of course offerings. Each semester, our seminars engage the intersection of the arts, literature, culture and history within an open, exploratory, and experimental educational environment. While several seminars are discipline-specific (our core curriculum, for example), most are designed to go beyond individual disciplines and enlist students in the cross-disciplinary study of the humanities.

Upcoming Seminar Schedules

Click on the links for registration information for individual seminars.

General registration information is here.

For previous seminar schedules, see here.

Spring 2016

CULS 600: West Virginia’s Activists: Stories of Social Change (Tierney and Lassiter), Wednesdays, 7-9:50 PM

This seminar will explore the more recent history of West Virginia through the eyes of activists who worked to make West Virginia a better place. We’ll meet activists in the local area and explore the traditions of literature and portraiture of activism. Participants will be guided through the process of shaping an oral history or creative nonfiction piece as a public exhibit to share the stories they have to tell about West Virginia’s past, present, and future.

Mr. Michael Tierney, Executive Director of Step by Step, is a songwriter, photographer, children’s book fanatic and has been a member of the Catholic Worker movement since he was 18. Michael Tierney has been a community activist for over 37 years working in areas of rural community organizing, leadership development, local history and participatory research documentation, and alternative education. He founded the regional non-profit Step by Step in 1988 and from his home base on Big Ugly Creek in Lincoln County, has collaborated on projects throughout the Appalachian region, in inner city Boston, Nicaragua, Slovakia, South Africa, and Scotland. He graduated from Harvard College with an independent major focusing on the interplay of family, work, school and activism including a study of an isolated community in Mingo County.

Dr. Luke Eric Lassiter, director of the Graduate Humanities Program and professor of humanities and anthropology, has written widely on topics concerning anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, and ethnography. His latest book, titled Doing Ethnography Today, co-authored with Elizabeth Campbell, explores the complexities of doing collaborative ethnography in dynamic and shifting fieldwork sites.

CULS 612: Time & Place in Appalachia (Maslowski), Tuesdays, 7 – 9:50 p.m.

This interdisciplinary course orients students to the importance of geography, topography, and geology to the history and development of the Appalachian region.

Dr. Robert Maslowski, retired Archeologist for the Huntington District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, possesses extensive knowledge of Appalachian archeology, culture, and history. He was executive producer of three award winning films, Ghosts of Green Bottom, Red Salt & Reynolds, and Secrets of the Valley. His numerous publications have appeared in venues such as World Archaeology, National Geographic Society Research Reports, Pennsylvania Archaeologist, Wonderful West Virginia, and West Virginia Archeologist (which he also serves as Editor).

HIST 600 – MAJOR SCHOLAR SEMINAR – Native Identities in Contemporary America (Ellis)

CLASS LIMIT: 4. By permission of the Director only.

Meetings on Thursday, January 14, 7-9:50 p.m.; Thursday, February 11, 7-9:50 p.m.; Thursday, March 10, 7-9:50 pm; and Thursday, April 21, 7-9:50 pm.

Despite decades of pressure to assimilate, Indian people across the country continue to embrace social, cultural, political, and religious practices that give their lives as Native people meaning. These expressions often reflect complex combinations of contemporary and historical forces, so our seminar will read widely on religion, forms of gathering, politics, and community dynamics in an effort to understand a wide variety of examples.

Dr. Clyde Ellis, Professor of History and University Distinguished Scholar, Elon University, is a nationally renowned scholar who has spent much of the past 25 years living and working on the Southern Plains in the Kiowa community of southwest Oklahoma conducting extensive fieldwork on boarding schools Christian missions, Native hymn traditions, and powwow culture. More recently he has expanded his research to include southeast North Carolina’s Indian communities and has recently published a series of important studies on that region’s powwow culture.

HUMN 602: Historical Studies (Lassiter), Wednesdays, 7 – 9:50 p.m.

Core course acquaints students with problems of historical knowledge, changes in the interpretation of history, nature of historical forces, and methods of historical research.

Open to non-degree students.

LITS 600: Memoir (Pleska), Mondays, 7 – 9:50 p.m.

Memoir (from French meaning memory or reminiscence) is a collection of memories that an individual writes about of moments or events that took place in one’s life. Memoir has been with us since the times of Seneca and St. Augustine’s Confessions, but it has only been in the last several decades that the genre has stepped up in its rightful place next to poetry and fiction. This class will explore this literary nonfiction genre via readings of major texts and selections. You need not have extensive practice in writing to take this course, but you will be asked to explore your own experiences to capture a true revelation of what it means to remember, to reflect, and to shape those memories in your own voice.

Ms. Cat Pleska earned her MFA in creative nonfiction writing at Goucher College in Baltimore and is an essayist for West Virginia Public Radio. She also is the Editor-in-Chief of Mountain State Press and book reviewer for The Charleston Gazette. Her latest book, Riding on Comets: A Memoir, is published by West Virginia University Press.

HUMN 650 – Special Topics – Independent Studies arranged between instructor and student (contact Director to arrange course)

For students who need to conduct independent research and/or reading in a specific topic in the humanities, the Program will offer independent studies in those topics as funds allow. Contact the Director for more information. Examples of Special Topics might include:

* Museum Studies
* Film Criticism
* Studies in Appalachian Music
* Studies in Poetry
* Language and Communication

HUMN 680 – Independent Research Symposium, Arranged

A pro-seminar required of all Humanities degree students who are beginning the thesis or final project. Arranged with the Program Director.