Kathy Sohn visited our campus in October, 2006, to discuss her work in Whistling and Crowing: Women of Appalachia. Kathy kicked off our 2006-2007 Diversity Lecture Series and drew an impressive amount of people to the two lectures she gave.The majority of our students are first-generation, non-traditional students and Kathy spurred them to recognize both the challenges they experience as citizens of an Appalachian region of Ohio as well as to appreciate and honor the strengths that they bring to our campus.
I was very impressed with Kathy's ability to make connections with students and our larger community. She delivered a student-centered lecture and conducted an evening event that attracted many community members from our region. At both events she spent time signing books, listening to people share their own experiences, and making personal connections; many students expressed how excited they were not only to meet a real, live author whose work we had studied in class, but an author who was accessible and willing to listen to their questions and discuss their experiences. Kathy spent several hours signing books and speaking to community attendees at the evening event and then went the extra mile in corresponding with students who had given her their email addresses. Her integration of the academic with the personal supplemented the conversations I had conducted in the classroom about writing as a public practice that can influence and change lives.
Kathy's smart work in her book provided opportunities for students and community members to be involved in academic conversations circulating around writing practice and cultural/women's studies; her graciousness and accessibility permitted lecture attendees to feel included in and honored by her work on Appalachia.
Ohio University Eastern Campus