Epilogue Writing for a Place: A Writer's Workshop for McDowell County, West Virginia

Casey Clabough

in Inhabiting Contemporary Southern and Appalachian Literature

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041735
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043944 | DOI:
Epilogue Writing for a Place: A Writer's Workshop for McDowell County, West Virginia

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The book closes with a pragmatic application of some of its abstract assertions, recounting the full experience of myself and another academic in our attempt to effect the humblest of positive local impacts in southern West Virginia. Today, in McDowell County–three hundred miles from Washington, D.C., yet rated one of the top ten poorest counties in the United States, eight-tenths of its land owned by people who don’t live there, home to staggering rates of illness and illiteracy–there exists, to some degree, a troubling marketing of victimization, an advertised human deprivation that openly attracts and recruits philanthropic groups and tolerates their various ideologies for the purpose of attaining whatever material benefits may be involved. Sometimes, a measure of genuine good is accomplished. Overall though, one can’t help but feel troubled that those who arrive with aid are, in some sense, not all that different in their paternalistic material capacities from the coal companies of old: a new benevolent crutch to replace the old malignant one, though a crutch remains a crutch, as the saying goes.

Keywords: pragmatic application; southern West Virginia; Illiteracy

Chapter.  4137 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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