Post-Interview Reflection: Context with Dr. Clark

Over Spring Break at UVa-Wise, I emailed Dr. Amy Clark a list of questions about Appalachian culture and literature. On Wednesday, March 20th, I received an email in response to those questions, filled with information that contextualized the subject and significance of my case.

In total, I asked seven different questions, divided into two different categories: general questions and novel-based questions. Generally, I asked:

  1. “How did you first get into studying Appalachian culture and literature?” (Clark, 2019)
  2. “What would you say that it means to be Appalachian?” (Clark, 2019)
  3. “What is the role of Appalachian literature, especially in regard to promoting and preserving Appalachian culture?” (Clark, 2019)
  4. “Are there any general themes/motifs that typically emerge in Appalachian literature?” (Clark, 2019)

To look at specific practices within Clyde Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks, I asked:

  1. “In the novel, the characters travel to a family graveyard once a year to clean it and to share family stories. How is death generally regarded in Appalachian tradition?” (Clark, 2019)
  2. “Also, the characters often spend time sharing family stories, or just talking together. What is the significance of the oral tradition in Appalachian culture?” (Clark, 2019)
  3. “Finally, one of the characters (Mr. Copeland) keeps a journal to record progress on a plane that he’s building, but he also uses the journal to keep family records and events (Edgerton, 2017). Is the practice of keeping journals or records common, and what purpose might it serve for the family or the people who do keep those records?” (Clark, 2019)

Dr. Clark’s answers taught me several important things about Appalachian literature and The Floatplane Notebooks, which I am eager to include on my website. First, in her answers to the general questions, she continually highlighted the changing nature of Appalachian culture and the diversity that is present in Appalachian literature. For example, in trying to define what she felt it means to be Appalachian, Clark (2019) wrote:

“How people identify as Appalachian differs because it’s a complex region, contrary to stereotypes that paint us as poor, white, straight Protestants. The region is about 900 miles long and its migration patterns and industries have shaped the northern, midland, and southern cultures in unique ways” (para. 2).

Figure 1: Subregions of Appalachia (Appalachian Regional Commission, 2009)

This particular piece of information is helpful for my project because it acknowledges the complexity of the region and supports the importance of defining the geographical layout of Appalachia. For me, this piece of information also prompted me to consider an additional way I could expand the context section of my site, as I didn’t consider examining the region by area. However, considering the book is set in North Carolina and Florida (Edgerton, 2017), I believe that giving more attention the relevant regional culture of the novel and the case would provide a more thought provoking and accurate contextual examination for the project.

In looking at the questions based on practices discussed in the novel, a lot of the topics she discussed confirmed and gave more detail about practices I was already familiar with from taking an Appalachian literature course a few semesters ago and from growing up in the region. Out of all the questions, I was particularly intrigued by Dr. Clark’s comments about the importance of story-telling because it related to the content of The Floatplane Notebooks’ story and to the origin of the novel. In the interview, Dr. Clark (2019) stated:

“So many people in Appalachia say they were raised among “front porch storytellers.” The oral tradition has its roots in preliterate days when ballads were the primary ways that people entertained themselves or taught moral lessons to the young. I listened to stories among my family in many situations, from putting up tobacco to women giving each other home permanents to canning tomatoes in the kitchen. The work we do gives us the means to gather and talk. The oral tradition is also significant because, like literature, it preserves, whether it’s story, music, or dialects.” (para. 6).

While I orignally asked the question to inquire about the character’s practices in the novels, the answer reminded me of the author’s letter in the beginning of the novel. When discussing the

Figure 2: Picture in Thornrose Cemetery (Turner, 2019)

process of writing The Floatplane Notebooks and the story of how he began writing novels, Edgerton (2017) states that:

“And I knew that as soon as Meredith fell through the floor, driven by his own weight, members of my real family would be among the crowd rushing in to see what had happened. Leading the pack was my great-uncle Alfred. I’d heard so many stories about Uncle Alfred that he had years before become one of my favorite uncles, even though he died way before I was born.” (p. xiv)

Discussing the importance of story-telling highlights the importance of the novel as a whole, in addition to its individual voices. Examining the role of oral history also supports arguments against censorship of the novel – oral history serves as an admission that the novel is much more than fiction, and in a way, is a creative remembrance and embrace of history and heritage. I was aware of the importance of stories and individual perspectives in the original planning of my site, which is partially why I decided to structure the case into different perspectives. However, the fact that the idea of the story-telling carries through both the story of the novel and the story behind the novel is a worth-while confirmation of the themes I have explored through reading and building the website.

Overall, the interview with Dr. Clark provided me with many different insights about the project and the case, and the interview serves as a great as frame for me as I start to work on presenting the case section of the website over the course of this week.

To view the full text of the interview, *click here!


Appalachian Regional Commission. (2009, November). Subregions of Appalachia [Map]. Retrieved March 25, 2019, from

Clark, A. D. (2019, March 20). Appalachian Context Interview [E-mail interview].

Edgerton, C. (2017). The Floatplane Notebooks. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

*Turner, T. (2019, March 25). Context. Retrieved March 25, 2019, from

Turner, T. (2019, March 23). Picture in Thornrose Cemetery [Personal photograph taken in Staunton, VA].

Spring Break Progress

A Post-Break Progress Report

Going into Spring Break, I had the project and the goal of progress on my mind. Now, after a whole week, I can officially report that the only major things I accomplished over break were watching (a lot) of superhero movies and making progress on the project, which I accomplished in three major areas.

Project Progress

First, I spent most of my time this week contacting people and organizations for my case.

To be completely honest – if I had to give feedback to myself – contacting people and facilitating timely interactions is (and has been) the part of the project I struggle the most with, which I feel comes both out of intimidation and inexperience.

Over the week, I mailed out a let

Figure 1: Letter to Marion Goldwasser (Turner, 2019)

ter to Marion Goldwasser (the text of which is featured in Figure 1), emailed context interview questions to Dr. Amy Clark, and reached out to Clyde Edgerton through the contact section of his webpage.

In addition to individual people, I reached out to Channel 7 News, which I read in Marion Goldwasser’s (1997) reflection, “Censorship: It Happened to Me in Sounthwest Virginia–It Could Happen to You,” had filmed and reported on events of the case (p. 36-38). I also emailed WHHV, a christian radio station in Hillsville, VA. Lastly, I re-emailed the Carroll County School Board to thank them for the materials they sent me and to ask if they had the original complaint letters of the case.

Of those emails, I have only received a reply from Channel 7 News, who responded that they could not grant me access to any material that was not already available on the internet. I am extremely hopeful that I will receive replies to the other messages throughout the coming week. However, this coming week I also have some additional sources to reach out to. Specifically, this week I am going to:

  • continue contact with the alumni group (and hopefully) find some specific alumni willing to recount and reflect their experience with the case,
  • reach out to a librarian to schedule access to the newspaper archives to find a few more articles from the year of the challenge,
  • and reach out the media services staff at the college to acquire about using a computer that can read an SD card. (I have photos from Hillsville, VA that are on an SD card my laptop does not have the capability to read.)

Novel Progress

Figure 2: Copy of The Floatplane Notebooks After Reading (Turner, 2019) [Novel published by the University of South Carolina Press (Edgerton, 2017)]
Second, I finished reading The Floatplane Notebooks early in the week. Reading the book as a reader, a critic, and a researcher was an extremely interesting and challenging experience because I had to practice awareness on several different levels. I took note of my personal emotional reactions to the material of the novel, in addition to marking the novel for material that books get challenged for (specifically, profanity and sexual content), and reflecting on the literature and discussion I’ve been exposed to in the course.

As a reader, I was hooked and moved by the story. As a critical thinker, I can see both the educational value and merit of the book, as well as why some parents may have been uncomfortable with high school students reading the book. As a researcher and student, I saw applications to the course literature  reflected in the content of the novel.

However, of all the reflection, I was repeatedly brought back to the idea that censorship often restrains marginalized voices, which we discussed in class. In The Floatplane Notebooks, a character named Meredith loses his left arm and leg from the explosion of a mine in the Vietnam War (Edgerton, 2017, pp. 200-205). When Meredith returns home and interacts with his cousin Mark, he reflects:

Mark likes to talk about his women. That and the F-4. He was pretty comfortable around me. I mean he didn’t give me any of this I’m-proud-of-you-and-you’re-a-real-inspiration bullshit. It’s damn terrible the way the human race don’t know how to act around somebody that ain’t the average talking Joe. Let something be a little off and people get turned on to this different frequency and they act like total assholes and don’t even know it. (Edgerton, 2017, pp. 238-239).

I stopped briefly after I read passage because the strong voice made me keenly, and suddenly, aware of the fact that I had only read, at most, one or two pieces of literature that feature the voices and experiences of characters who are physically or mentally disabled. The ideas presented from Meredith were thought provoking, and it was in that moment that I realized that to censor the novel for its less-appropriate passages is also to remove the agency of the voices that drive the lessons of the literature. While I was familiar with this idea through our course readings and discussions, it was extremely surreal to have that specific moment of reflection with my own case.

Website Progress

Lastly, I made satisfactory progress on my project site. After spending the end of the week focused on the site, I completed a draft of my biography page and the course description page, in addition to beginning an offline draft of one page from my context section.

This week, I aim to complete the majority of the context section of the site and post at least one page of the novel section of the website.

Specifically, I have a few questions about designing the site that I am going to attempt to locate the answer to this week:

  • Can I make a table or stack buttons, so that I can feature multiple options at the bottom of a page?
  • How do I add functioning content boxes to the homepage of my website?
  • How do I change the size on a image for the site without losing the quality of the image?

These are the three problems I encountered most when working in the site over the week, so finding the asnwers to the questions will speed along my site progress.

With all these considerations in mind, I look forward to resuming the semester and racing towards the finished project.


All references, expect for the quotation from the novel, are hyperlinked at first mention. However, the novel, in addition to all other references are also fully listed below. 

Contact. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2019, from

Edgerton, C. (2017). The Floatplane Notebooks. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.

Goldwasser, M. M. (1997). Censorship: It Happened to Me in Southwest Virginia–It Could Happen to You. The English Journal, 86(2), 34. doi:10.2307/819671

New Life Church and Ministries. (n.d.). Retrieved March 18, 2019, from

Turner, T. (2019). Copy of The Floatplane Notebooks after Reading [Personal photograph taken in Bartlick, VA].

Turner, T. (2019, March). Letter to Marion Goldwasser [Letter to Marion Goldwasser]. Bartlick, VA.

WDBJ. (n.d.). Meet the Team | Contact Us. Retrieved March 18, 2019, from

Survey of Technology at UVa-Wise

Drafting and revising the project contract prompted me to explore what pieces of technology I will need to complete the website and what kinds of technology and media services are available to me.

I started by looking at what technology I already own or have access to through immediate family members. First, I have an acer laptop, which I normally use to complete coursework or to communicate on. Generally, I can also access online programs or basic photo, video, and audio recording or editing software with my laptop. I also have an iPhone 6s, which I intend to use to take pictures, video, or audio recordings. Lastly, my father owns a basic digital camera that I can borrow to take photos of a higher quality or in higher volume, when my iPhone will not perform as well. (For example, I am using my father’s digital camera with SD memory card to take pictures on my trip to Hillsville, VA).

Considering the list of personal technology is basic, I also revisited Shannon Steffey in the UVa-Wise library to discuss what kinds of technology and media services are available to students through the library at the college. Shannon told me that the library has laptops and iPads available for students to check out and use within the library, though she also thought that the library could allow for students to check them out for use outside with proper reason and documentation.

Beyond devices that can be checked out, Shannon explained to me that the library had some devices and specialist librarians that could give me access to and advice on services within the library. For example, the library has study rooms with computer and web camera abilities on the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth floors. I have a good amount of experience with this technology in the library because I use one of the study rooms on the sixth floor to attend class.

Figure 1: Laptop and other technology (Turner, 2019) – This is my personal laptop, Andy the Acer.

In addition to the rooms, Shannon led me on a tour through different floors of the inside of the library and showed me a media room on the first floor (that, in the future, the library hopes to equip as a digital production/editing studio for students), an archive room on the second floor that has a book scanner that bends so that the book can be scanned without extending its spine flat, and an area that has microfilm and microfiche readers for archived documents in the library. Lastly, she also overviewed several offices within the library that I could visit to get help with learning to use WordPress, working with digital sources, or with technological malfunctions, all of which I know will be helpful as I start to construct the website.

Outside of the library, Shannon also pointed me to a media services department that is located in Zehmer Hall, one of the academic buildings on campus (and, fortunately for me, the one I attend classes in most frequently!). Zehmer Hall has a media services lab that has Apple computers with photo and video editing software, in addition to other useful programs offered through Apple. Beyond the lab, media services has devices such as cameras and video recorders, in addition to a few other basic recording devices (like microphones) that students can arrange to check-out.

Finally, after a survey of available technology, I also wanted to briefly reflect on what technology I believe that I might initially need for the project. To begin, I know that I will need mostly just my phone, laptop, and digital camera for interview and media collection. However, after a week or two (particularly after the end of Spring Break), I also know that I am going to want to look into using the media services lab, if only to familiarize myself with the available applications, so I intend to schedule a time to work in the lab after I have collected some material (most likely around the date of March 20th).

However, regardless, after exploring the technology and services available to me as a student, I am much more equipped to work with material for the project site.


Turner, T. (Photographer). (2019, March 11). Laptop and other technology [Personal photograph taken in Hillsville, VA].

A Journey into the Mountains

Preparation for a Contextual Interview

After having the weekend to prepare for the context interview with Dr. Amy Clark, a UVa-Wise “Professor of Communication and Appalachian Studies,” (“Amy D. Clark,” n.d.), I wanted to discuss my purpose and intentions for the interview.

On the Map

Simply stated, the main purpose of interviewing Dr. Clark is to gain an understanding of Appalachian culture and values, which I believe is essential to understanding the censorship case I chose against Clyde Edgerton’s The Floatplane Notebooks. Geographically, The Appalachian Regional Commission (n.d.) defines Appalachia as:

a 205,000-square-mile region that follows the spine of the Appalachian Mountains from southern New York to northern Mississippi. It includes all of West Virginia and parts of 12 other states: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. (para. 1)

Figure 1: “County Economic Status in Appalachia, FY 2019” (The Appalachian Regional Commission, 2018)

Yet, while this definition is useful for understanding the physical dimensions of the Appalachian Mountains, it can not contextualize the unique culture that defines the mountains.

Beyond the Map

In several of the sources I reviewed, the idea of Appalachian culture, and generally, of morality, features prominently, which was the first indication I had of how important an Appalachian context would be for the project. For example, in the article “Censors Take Aim; Targets Stand Firm/ Book Fuels Morality Debate, ” Jim Schlosser (1992) quotes a letter that professor Gilbert Campbell wrote to teacher Marion Goldwasser which states that “‘it is indeed ironic that Clyde Edgerton…should be the subject of this kind of accusation. As a whole, his work is very much in support of the values and joys of family, community, charity, and neighborliness’” (p. 7). Relatedly, another in a Roanoke Times article, Beth Macy (1992) quotes Marion Goldwasser who describes that the book, “‘has all the multiple voices, multiple viewpoints; it explores Southern family traditions and how the past influences the present’” (p. 3).

With those quotations in mind, I chose to interview Dr. Clark because she both lives in and teaches about the Appalachian region, and as such, I feel that she can provide a personal, yet authoritative, perspective on aspects of literature, history and life in the Appalachian mountains. In the interview, which I intend to conduct this week in person, I have decided upon a few basic questions, which were all prompted by my exploration of the articles that detail the censorship case (such as the two mentioned above) and my own personal questions about Appalachian values. I have estimated that the interview will take around ten to fifteen minutes, and I plan to use the following questions as guided starters for a semi-structured, open-ended conversation:

  • What would you say that it means to be Appalachian?
  • Are there any common themes that often emerge in Appalachian literature?
    • What is the role of the family/community in Appalachian culture?
    • What is the role of faith/religion in Appalachian culture?
  • How does literature preserve and promote Appalachian culture and values?
“Appalachian Mountain Sharecroppers” (Gerry, 1870s) ({{PD-US}}, n.d.)

I have chosen each of these questions because I feel that they address different topics on a complex level in that they are able to apply to the book itself and to the culture of the region of my case. I also considered each of the questions because I feel that are firmly rooted in historical and literary context for the Appalachian Mountains, which I anticipate will expand the discussion on my site in a literary and a geopolitical manner.


Amy D. Clark – Department Chair & Professor of Rhetoric. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

Gerry, S. L. (1870s). Appalachian Mountain Sharecroppers [Painting found in High Museum of Art]. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from,_1870s,_High_Museum_of_Art.jpg

Macy, B. (1992, December 19). Family plots real life has provided Cylde Edgerton with a generous supply of material for his books . Roanoke Times, The (VA), p. 1. Available from NewsBank:

{{PD-US}}. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

Schlosser, J. (1992, June 15). Censors take aim; Targets stand firm/book fuels morality debate. Retrieved February 3, 2019, from

The Appalachian Regional Commission. (2018, August). County Economic Status in Appalachia, FY 2019 [Map]. In Appalachian Regional Commission. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from

The Appalachian Regional Commission. (n.d.). The Appalachian Region. Retrieved March 4, 2019, from