We are delighted to invite you to the third lecture of the 2022/2023 Spring semester of the American Studies Colloquium Series:

Penny Messinger
(Daemen University)

Understanding Appalachian Otherness

 This is an in-person event.

Thursday, May 18, 2023
at 4:45 p.m.

You can get 3 OZN points for participating in this event.


Dobra 55, room 2.118
(the building features some mobility accommodations: ramp and lift)


The Appalachian region of the US is a place surrounded in myth and stereotypes. This presentation explains the various scholarly and popular understandings of Appalachia, contrasting the definition of the region based upon geographic, economic, and cultural criteria, and discussing the differences between Northern and Southern Appalachia. One of the first scholarly studies of the region, John C. and Olive Dame Campbell’s 1921 monograph, The Southern Highlander and His Homeland, emphasized the “super-rural” aspect of life in the region as a defining characteristic, highlighting an aspect of Appalachia that is closely identified with the region a century later. This emphasis on rural life and a close relationship with the land (including the “land economy”) shaped an understanding of Appalachian “otherness” that has been used to define whiteness, American norms, and an idealized rural past. The stereotypes of mountain people that emerged in the late 1800s cast them simultaneously as the “contemporary ancestors” of more “modern” white Anglo-Saxon Protestants and as inbred “hillbillies.” Notably, these stereotypes emerged in concert with the growth of American industry, which was fueled by the extraction of Appalachian coal, oil, and timber. I end by juxtaposing this historical understanding of Appalachian otherness with a discussion of America’s rural/urban divide and J.D. Vance’s rise to prominence as the author of his best-selling memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, and with his successful campaign for the US Senate.


Dr. Penny Messinger is associate professor of history at Daemen University, Amherst, NY, US. She teaches a wide range of courses in American history, women’s history, and women’s studies, and recently stepped down as chair of the Department of History & Political Science (2016-22). Messinger’s scholarship addresses the history of the Progressive Era, the Appalachian South, and reform and radicalism. One current research project focuses on Dr. Ann Mogilova Reinstein and Boris Reinstein, transnational revolutionaries based in Buffalo. She is also collaborating on a project exploring the teaching of history that addresses the “history wars” and the relationship of popular and academic history. Messinger holds a MA and PhD from the Ohio State University and a BA from Marshall University.

Year 2022/2023

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Leadership Studies Research Group has the pleasure to invite for a lecture by Dr. Sam Potolicchio on skills neccessary in 21-century leadership.

OZN Open Academic Sessions grade

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Collected all the OZN points required by your program of studies? See what you need to do to get your grade.

Year 2022/2023

May 29: Persephone & Demeter: A Workshop on “Lore Olympus”

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Karen Holmberg profile picture

American Studies Colloquium Series

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In this lecture, Karen Holmberg — a poet, writer and academic —will talk about the engagements with environmental and ecological initiatives at Oregon State that have shaped her and her recent work, while sharing and discussing sample poems that show her lifelong preoccupations with language as a living matter and one of the chief tools humans have for “being toward and becoming with” the natural world.

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American Studies Colloquium Series

May 25: English Language Bias and the Generalizability Problem in the Face of Global Linguistic Diversity

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