Stephenson Center for Appalachia to host literary scholar Dr. Ron Roach on July 16

July 11, 2014

If you are looking for insight into the richness of Appalachian literary history, don’t miss the Stephenson Center for Appalachia’s program on Wednesday, July 16. The Stephenson Center Lecture series will host Dr. Ron Roach, who will discuss one of Western North Carolina’s most versatile and imaginative authors, Manly Wade Wellman, beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Evans Auditorium of the Cannon Student Center on the campus of Lees-McRae College. This event is free and open to the public.

Dr. Roach is Chair and Professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.  A native of North Carolina, he has deep roots in the mountains and music of Virginia and North Carolina.  Prior to joining the ETSU faculty in 2013, Roach served twelve years at Young Harris College in the north Georgia mountains, where he was Professor of Communication Studies and Vice President for Academic Affairs.

In September 2013, he was one of several scholars who represented the Appalachian region at the inaugural Carpathian-Appalachian International Conference on Human and Community Development in Highland Regions, held in Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine.  His scholarly interests are the literature, music and speech of Appalachia.

Roach’s subject for the lecture is a unique figure in Appalachian literary history. Manly Wade Wellman (1903-1986) wrote The Kingdom of Madison:  A Southern Mountain Fastness and Its People, a personal study of the isolated Western North Carolina county known as Bloody Madison.  While this book resides comfortably in the traditional literature of the mountains, some of his other works defy stereotypes. He explored horror, true crime, science fiction, and some works that combine and cross the various genres of popular and pulp fiction. His Silver John novels and short stories follow the wanderings of an Appalachian woodsman and minstrel.

Wellman’s stories continue to live through television dramas, audio adaptations, graphic novels and the Internet. Ron Roach will discuss this master of many genres and illuminate his genius.

“Appalachia has produced many fine authors, but perhaps no one as versatile and haunting as Manly Wade Wellman,” said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia. “We are fortunate to have Dr. Ron Roach, an accomplished literary scholar, introduce us to Wellman’s world. We invite everyone to join us for this fascinating program on Wednesday, July 16.”

The Stephenson Lecture Series is free and open to the public. Each program begins at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, July 9, 16, and 23, in Evans Auditorium within the Cannon Student Center at Lees-McRae College. For more information, please contact Megan Hall, director of communications, at 828.898.8729 or

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Dr. Ron Roach