We picked up a cool 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, wrote a blog post recommending the film (available for $2.99 here) to the state’s teachers. She calls it 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 mound recently, as the country faces the reality of profound, possibly permanent, social change. The 69-foot-high structure is over 2,000 years old, a reminder that every civilization and culture face the passage of time and cycles of seasons. In Salfia’s writing, the classically American story of the town “blossoms” out of the mound.
She praises the storytelling format: “My favorite part of this documentary is that the narrative is controlled completely by the town’s residents.”
In conclusion, she writes:
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