December 10, 2015
West Virginia Wesleyan Dean Publishes "Writing West Virginia"
Writing West Virginia analyzes groundbreaking works by eight of the state’s most talented writers: Davis Grubb, Mary Lee Settle, Breece Pancake, Denise Giardina, Irene McKinney, Ann Pancake, Jayne Anne Phillips, and Pinckney Benedict.
"This book seeks to celebrate West Virginia writers,” says Boyd Creasman of his new book, published by the University of Tennessee Press.
Teaching Appalachian literature for many years, Creasman became aware of the lack of literary criticism of the state’s finest writers. “Our writers have been nominated for and have won numerous awards and have received glowing reviews. However there are only four books published about West Virginia authors, and none that focused on more than one writer,” Creasman said.
The book traces how these writers depict the people and history of West Virginia while addressing the effects of the Mountain State’s economic challenges through the years. The male protagonists of Grubb and Breece Pancake look for ways to express their masculinity when they cannot find gainful employment. The strong, independent women in the works of McKinney, Giardina, and Ann Pancake rise above the limitations of traditional gender roles.
Taken together, West Virginia literature presents an array of memorable characters who attempt to transcend the challenges and limitations of living in the most Appalachian of states. The book concludes by analyzing how recent fiction of Phillips and Benedict employ elements of magical realism and fantasy writing to create the possibility of transcendence for their characters, shifting the focus from the landscape to the dreamscape, suggesting exciting new directions for Appalachian literature.
Creasman grew up in Polk County, Tennessee in the Appalachian foothills. He graduated with a B.A. in English from Middle Tennessee State University and earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in English from Florida State University. He is married to Alice Andrews Creasman, who serves as Registrar at Wesleyan.
Writing West Virginia is now available from the University of Tennessee Press. To order a copy, call 1-800-621-2736.
Dr. Creasman will make a presentation on the book to the Wesleyan community on January 14.
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