Professor of creative writing
Department of English
McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education
Appalachian State University
“Joseph Bathanti brings to us a wealth of experience in building partnerships across the region, an unparalleled depth of creativity and an encyclopedic knowledge of experiential learning. He has been our writer-in-residence for several years already, and we look forward to him joining us full time in the Watauga Residential College.”
Dr. Clark Maddux, director of the Watauga Residential College at Appalachian State University
BOONE, N.C. — Joseph Bathanti, professor of creative writing in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of English, has been named the inaugural McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor in Interdisciplinary Education at Appalachian State University. With this appointment, Bathanti will teach full time in Appalachian’s Watauga Residential College (WRC), which is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Cultural, Global and Gender Studies. Bathanti is also charged with developing new programs to promote the WRC.
Bathanti, who holds the position of writer-in-residence in the Watauga Residential College, teaches as an affiliate faculty member in the Appalachian studies program. He was appointed North Carolina’s seventh poet laureate in 2012-14 and was the 2016 recipient of the North Carolina Award in Literature, the state’s highest civilian honor. Additionally, Bathanti served as the writer-in-residence for the Charles George Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Asheville. He will be featured as part of the North Carolina Arts Council’s 50th anniversary celebration in Raleigh this year as one of the “50 for 50"” artists.
“I can’t think of a more deserving and distinguished faculty member at Appalachian. Joseph is an amazing teacher, a renowned writer and someone with a deep understanding of and commitment to the mission of the Watauga Residential College,” said Dr. Carl Eby, chair of the Department of English.
The McFarlane Family Distinguished Professorship in Interdisciplinary Education was established to be held by a faculty member at the rank of full professor assigned to the College of Arts and Sciences, with preference given to a professor connected to the Watauga Residential College — formerly known as the Watauga Global Community. The appointment is for a three-year term, and the goal is to further the promotion and support of the Watauga Residential College as it continues to pursue its mission through a sequenced, interdisciplinary, experiential curriculum that requires students to integrate class content, community-based research and multicultural immersion.
Funding for the professorship was provided by Ron and Nancy McFarlane, and the State of North Carolina contributed a third in matching funds. The McFarlanes’ children — Katie McFarlane ’05 and Reynolds McFarlane ’13 — are graduates of Appalachian who received an interdisciplinary educational experience through Appalachian’s Watauga Residential College.
Bathanti received a B.A. and an M.A. in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Warren Wilson College. He first came to North Carolina as a Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Volunteer in 1976 to work with prison inmates in the North Carolina Department of Correction and later joined the Department of English at Appalachian in 2001.
He is the author of 17 books spanning the literary genres of short stories, poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His 10 books of poetry include “This Metal,” which was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Poetry Council of North Carolina’s 1997 Oscar Arnold Young Award for best book of poetry published in 1996; “Restoring Sacred Art,” winner of the 2010 Roanoke Chowan Prize awarded annually by the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association; and “Concertina,” winner of the 2014 Roanoke Chowan Prize.
His novel, “East Liberty,” won the 2001 Carolina Novel Award, and the novel “Coventry” won the 2006 Novello Literary Award. His book of short stories, “The High Heart,” won the 2006 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. Bathanti’s book of personal essays, “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless,” is the winner of the 2012 Will D. Campbell Award in Creative Nonfiction.
Bathanti has held several editorship roles over the years, including serving as editor of “Between Ourselves,” a National Endowment for the Arts-funded anthology of writing by North Carolina prison inmates in 1978; a guest editor for the special 35th anniversary issue of Cold Mountain Review in 2007; and guest editor for the Appalachian Journal Black Mountain College Special Edition in 2018 as part of the collaborative and cross-disciplinary Black Mountain College Semester at Appalachian.
Bathanti has also served in numerous capacities for the following public and professional organizations:
- the Creative Aging Network of North Carolina Advisory Council;
- the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association Editorial Board;
- the Armed Services Arts Partnership Writing Advisory Committee;
- the Saint Andrews University Press Board of Advisors;
- the North Carolina Literary Map Advisory Board;
- the Benevolence Farm Advisory Council;
- the Robert Morris University Multimedia Press Advisory Board;
- the Appalachian Veterans Arts and Humanities Collective; and
- the North Carolina Humanities Council Board of Trustees (2012 to 2018).
“Joseph Bathanti brings to us a wealth of experience in building partnerships across the region, an unparalleled depth of creativity and an encyclopedic knowledge of experiential learning. He has been our writer-in-residence for several years already, and we look forward to him joining us full time in the Watauga Residential College,” said Dr. Clark Maddux, director of the WRC.
To learn more about the Watauga Residential College and its mission as a living and learning community, visit https://watauga.appstate.edu, and to learn more about Bathanti’s many publications and further accomplishments, visit https://english.appstate.edu/faculty-staff.
About the Watauga Residential College at Appalachian
The Watauga Residential College is a specialized academic program where classes are discussion-based seminars that allow students to pursue topics of interest to them within the context of the class. This program provides an unusual opportunity for students to become engaged in learning at a deep level through class discussions and research projects. Watauga classes are interdisciplinary and this approach to learning requires students to integrate knowledge from a variety of disciplines to gain a complete perspective on a topic.
About the Department of English
The Department of English at Appalachian State University is committed to outstanding work in the classroom, the support and mentorship of students, and a dynamic engagement with culture, history, language, theory and literature. The department offers master’s degrees in English and rhetoric and composition, as well as undergraduate degrees in literary studies, film studies, creative writing, professional writing and English education. Learn more at https://english.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at https://cas.appstate.edu.
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