Receives E-Appalachia Award

from the Appalachian Studies Association

Award Speech by Bill Klaus, Chair of Website Committee, Appalachian Studies Association:


It's an exciting time to be a apart of Appalachian Studies!  This conference and our association have grown.  The number of outlets for publication have increased, and our scholarship continues to break new ground.  One aspect of this overall growth is the proliferation of web sites that deal with Appalachia.  The ASA started the e-Appalachia award last year to highlight what we judge to be excellence among the, literally, thousands of these web sites.

The web site committee received several nominations for the e-Appalachia award this year.  The selection process included a consideration of each web site's content, design, and mission statement.  The award comes with a cash prize, but the real prize is our promise to turn over the winner's hit counter.

I'm excited about this year's winner, an online publication titled Nantahala
, a review of original creative writing and photography from Appalachia.  Anybody who teaches, produces, or cares about art needs to check out the site.  Even those of us who are not inclined to read poetry or forms of creative prose will be refreshed by the site's take on the region.  Find a link on the ASA web site.

Several things stood out about the site, and I'll name three.

First, the site is an excellent model of how the web can channel and facilitate collaboration in the region.  The Appalachian College Association gave some seed money to start the online review.  The publication has four editors who work at three institutions: Rob Merritt, Editor-in-Chief at Bluefield College, VA; Cy Dillon, Fiction Editor from Ferrum College, Va; Mark A. Roberts, Poetry Editor at VA Intermont College; and Joe Champagne, Photography Editor, also at VA Intermont.  This Association has praised such collaborations across the region for years.  The group behind Nantahala
have made it happen by using the web to its fullest.

Second, the content of the site is top-notch and diverse.  The editors have ambitiously set out to cultivate writers and artists who live in the region.  The site does not limit itself to any narrow definition of who an Appalachian artist is and what he or she does.  The contributors in the first issues include established writers and artists alongside advanced and compelling student pieces.

Third, the design of the site itself is a form of art.  The day-to-day surfing that most of us do is, let's face it, a dull routine.  The designers of the web site created something that is well beyond the unoriginal html that characterizes most of the web.  In their hands, html itself is a form of artistic expression.

Accepting the $250 cash prize on behalf of Rob Merritt, the Editor-in-Chief, is J.P. Brantley from the Appalachian College Association, the group that made the site possible through their support.


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