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Forum will explore how photographs define Appalachia

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
February 3rd, 2017

A panel of West Virginia University faculty from journalism to public health will discuss how images in the media affect the nation’s perceptions of Appalachia during a forum on February 7 from 4-6 p.m. in the Downtown Campus Library (DCL), Room 104.

The program is inspired by Looking at Appalachia, a juried collection of images by amateur and professional photographers, currently on display at the DCL as part of the WVU Libraries’ Art in the Libraries series. West Virginia native Roger May directs the ongoing Looking at Appalachia project that chronicles life in the 13-state region more than 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

“This forum is a great opportunity to use the Looking at Appalachia exhibit to spark conversations about how images in the media can affect a range of issues facing the region,” said Alyssa Wright, chair of the Art in the Libraries Committee.

Three friends pose for photographer Dennis Savage in Cabell County, W.Va. The image is part of the Looking at Appalachia exhibit.

Panelists will include Emily Corio, Reed College of Media; Dr. Ken Fones-Wolf, History; Dr. Rosemary Hathaway, English; Mary Kay McFarland, Reed College of Media; and Dr. Michael McCawley, Public Health. Dr. Brandi Slider Weekly, Education, will moderate the event.

The Looking at Appalachia project seeks to expand the image and description of people in Appalachia beyond impoverished.

Discussions will delve into how the War on Poverty and an accompanying photo project made poverty a dominant narrative concerning the people and region of Appalachia.

Panelists will address how this narrative has shaped their respective fields and their own work. They will also share aspects of their work that speak to the need to address overgeneralizations that stereotypically depict the region and people.

There will be time for questions from the audience.

The event is open to the public. The Looking at Appalachia exhibit will remain on display until June. For more information, contact Wright at 304.293.0337 or

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