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Best-selling novelist Silas House joining Berea College

Kentucky author Silas House will join the faculty of Berea College this fall. House has accepted the position of National Endowment for the Humanities Chair in Appalachian Studies, beginning in August, 2010, announced Dr. Chad Berry, director of Berea’s Loyal Jones Appalachian Center.

Silas House

House, the award-winning author of four best-selling novels, two plays and other works, will teach three classes each year along with writing and working with students. This fall he will be teaching Appalachian Literature and an advanced course in creative writing.

“There’s been something of an Appalachian literary renaissance underway in the region, and I’m so glad that Berea will have a central place in that renaissance with a major writer being on faculty,” Berry says. “Silas has mentored so many writers already, and it will be wonderful to have him connected to our students here at Berea.”

The NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies, established through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, may be renewed for up to three years. Based in the Berea College Loyal Jones Appalachian Center, the chair has been held by humanities scholars from a variety of disciplines.

House will succeed current chair holder Dr. William H. Turner, whose appointment ends this academic year. Turner, a sociologist whose specialties include the experience of African Americans in Appalachia, diversity in higher education and the sociology of historical black colleges, will remain at Berea as Distinguished Professor in Appalachian Studies and Ambassador for Regional Outreach. His two-year appointment includes teaching, mentoring and ambassadorial responsibilities connecting communities and students throughout Appalachia and beyond with Berea College.

Among House’s works are the novels “Clay’s Quilt” (2001), “A Parchment of Leaves” (2003), “The Coal Tattoo” (2004), and “Eli the Good” (2009); plays “The Hurting Part” (2005) and “Long Time Travelling” (2009); and “Something’s Rising” (2009), a creative nonfiction book about social protest co-authored with Jason Howard. House is currently working on his fifth novel, “Evona Darling.”

House is presently Writer-in-Residence at Lincoln Memorial University where he also has directed the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. In addition, he serves on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. His other teaching experience includes an appointment at Eastern Kentucky University. His research interests include the sense of place and social justice issues in Appalachian literature, and environmental literature of the 20th and 21st century.

House is a former contributing editor for “No Depression” magazine, is currently fiction editor for “Still: The Journal,” and co-edited the non-fiction “Coal Country” published by Sierra Club Books. He also is one of Nashville’s most in-demand press kit writers. House’s work can also be found in Newsday, Oxford American, Bayou, The Southeast Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Louisville Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Wind, Night Train, and others, as well as in the anthologies New Stories From the South 2004: The Year’s Best, Christmas in the South, A Kentucky Reader, Of Woods and Water, Motif, We All Live Downstream, Missing Mountains, A Kentucky Christmas, Shouts and Whispers, High Horse, The Alumni Grill, Stories From the Blue Moon Café I and II, and many others.

House is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and many other honors. In 2009 the Silas House Literary Seminar was given at Emory and Henry College. For his environmental activism, House received the Helen Lewis Award for Community Service in 2008 from the Appalachian Studies Association.

A Kentucky native who grew up in the eastern Kentucky community of Lily, House earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Spalding University.

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