The Center for Folklore studies will host Kenton Butcher, assistant professor of English at Bucknell University and president of the Tablertown Museum in Athens County, Ohio. One of the community partners of Ohio Field School, the Tablertown Museum preserves the history and legacy of Tablertown, a rural Black enclave in southeast Ohio established in the 1830s. Butcher will present "Unrequited: The Paradox of Black Appalachia" on February 14 at 4 pm in 165 Thompson Library.
The Appalachian Studies Association adopted the theme of "Beloved" for its upcoming conference. As the call for papers explains, the theme celebrates Appalachia as a physical and cultural space that is both "sacred" and "dearly loved." This presentation explores the intersection of rurality and blackness by analyzing a cultural institution, the Tablertown Museum, in Appalachian Ohio, and it posits that “unrequited” may be a better descriptor of the community’s understanding of its internal and external relations within Appalachia. In its efforts to preserve Tablertown’s oral history and its existential struggles through periods marked by slavery, Native American displacement, segregation, economic underdevelopment, and environmental degradation, the Tablertown Museum grapples with these legacies within the physical and cultural space of Appalachia and the neoliberal quagmire that is nonprofit status. This presentation explores how the Tablertown Museum represents a community forged at the frequently unrecognized intersection of "Black" and "Appalachia" and its ongoing struggles with self-definition, cultural preservation, and economic survival.
Kenton Butcher is an assistant professor of English at Bucknell University. He specializes in African American and South African literature and holds a Ph.D. in English and certificates in Africana studies and film studies from the University of Pennsylvania. His work has appeared in LIT: Literature, Interpretation, Theory, Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Studies, and Contemporaries. He is currently revising an essay for a forthcoming collection from Ohio University Press on Black Life in the Ohio Valley.
In addition to his academic work, Kenton serves as president of the Tablertown Museum in Athens County, Ohio. The Tablertown Museum preserves the history and legacy of Tablertown, a rural Black enclave in southeast Ohio established in the 1830s, and provides regular programming on Tablertown’s history and culture.
This event is free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme, the Department of Comparative Studies, the Department of English, and OSU Libraries.
The Humanities Institute and its related centers host a wide range of events, from intense discussions of works in progress to cutting-edge presentations from world-known scholars, artists, activists and everything in between.
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