I’m proud to announce that we picked up a prestigious endorsement this week, from the West Virginia Council of Teachers of English, an “organization dedicated to serving the students and teachers of WV through language arts and literacy.” The WVCTE’s co-director, Jessica Salfia, has penned a blog post recommending Moundsville (available on the website and pbs.org) to the state’s teachers. She praises our film, an oral history of over 2,000 years of a patch of American soil, as a “refreshing change from the extraction narratives that delivered us Hillbilly Elegy and this recent, awful essay about a woman escaping New York with her puppy to “somewhere in Appalachia.”
I’ve been thinking a lot about the Grave Creek Mound, the spiritual heart of the movie, and the place it describes, as America faces profound, permanent change. The 69-foot-high structure is over 2,000 years old, a reminder that every civilization falls to the passage of time and cycle of seasons. In Salfia’s writing, the classically American story of the town “blossoms” out of the mound. The story is still happening, of course, and we continue to chronicle life in Moundsville at Moundsville.org.
Salfia lauds our storytelling choice: “My favorite part of this documentary is that the narrative is controlled completely by the town’s residents.”
This documentary and its resources would be an excellent addition to any West Virginia History or Appalachian studies curriculum, but also, this doc would be a great study on perspective and narrative in an ELA course–focusing on what story gets told and how you tell it when you let the people of a place tell their own story.
As Salfia notes, we’re happy to cooperate with any West Virginia-based English teacher who’d like to show the film, online for now, or in person after the pandemic lockdown ends. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
John W. Miller