BOONE, N.C. — Dr. Katherine Ledford, professor of Appalachian studies at Appalachian State University, is spending the spring 2023 semester in Amman, Jordan, where she is fostering cross-cultural understanding through literature. Her project, titled “From the Appalachian Mountains to Jordanian Highlands: Appalachian Literature as Cross-cultural Text,” is supported by her 2022–23 Fulbright.
For over 75 years, the Fulbright Program has provided more than 400,000 participants — chosen for their academic merit as well as leadership potential — the opportunity to study, teach and conduct research, exchange ideas and contribute to finding solutions to shared international concerns.
From January to June, Ledford is teaching two of her App State courses — an undergraduate course on Appalachian literature and a graduate course on comparative mountain studies — to students at Al-Ahliyya Amman University, where she serves as a lecturer of American literature. Both courses focus on Appalachia, a part of American literary culture less commonly researched, read and taught abroad, according to Ledford.
“Appalachian literature often challenges American stereotypes, making it a particularly productive vehicle for advancing knowledge across cultures,” she explained.
Through her courses, Ledford hopes to create opportunities for new dialogue and future collaborations between Jordanians and Americans.
Ledford selected Jordan as the location for her teaching project based on a positive experience she had while visiting her daughter, who completed a summer Arabic program in Amman in 2019.
Describing her experience in Jordan, Ledford said, “Everyone we met in Jordan, unfailingly, was kind, welcoming and excited to share their culture. I am prepared to do the same: sharing my Appalachian culture in the Jordanian Highlands, which are at about the same altitude, for a mountain-to-mountain exchange.”
About Dr. Katherine Ledford
As a professor in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, Ledford teaches courses in Appalachian literature, mountain literature, comparative mountain studies and higher education pedagogy. She joined App State in 2008 as a lecturer and the coordinator of the Appalachian studies program, moving on to serve as director of the program from 2009 to 2016.
Ledford is passionate about establishing relationships between international mountain studies scholars. A past president of the Appalachian Studies Association (2011–2012), she is founding chair of the association’s International Connections Committee, which fosters communication between Appalachian studies scholars and mountain studies scholars around the world.
In 2019, Ledford coordinated the inaugural International Mountain Studies Symposium at App State, which brought international scholars and artists to Boone to engage with students, faculty and the community. Ledford is planning a second symposium, to be held in 2024.
Ledford co-edited “Writing Appalachia,” a comprehensive anthology of Appalachian literature published by The University Press of Kentucky in March 2020. The work received the 2020 Thomas D. Clark Foundation Medallion for its high standards of research and writing that highlight the history and culture of Kentucky.
She also serves as a contributing editor for The Heath Anthology of American Literature and has published articles and reviews in ATQ, Appalachian Journal, Studies in Travel Writing, Journal of Appalachian Studies and Mountain Research and Development, among other journals. She has also served as a first and second reader on theses of Honors College students at App State.
Ledford received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, her Master of Arts degree in American literature from the University of Alabama and her doctoral degree in early American literature from the University of Kentucky.
For information about how to apply for faculty and staff Fulbright awards, as well as more information regarding international scholarship assistance, visit the Office of International Education and Development website.
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She will continue her research project ‘Medieval Literature in the Modern Landscape’
About the Center for Appalachian Studies
The Center for Appalachian Studies promotes public programs, community collaboration, civic engagement and scholarship on the Appalachian region. The center is committed to building healthy communities and deepening knowledge of Appalachia’s past, present and future through community-based research and engagement. Learn more at https://appcenter.appstate.edu.
About the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies
The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in four program areas: Appalachian studies; gender, women’s and sexuality studies; global studies; and interdisciplinary studies. The department is also home to Watauga Residential College, an interdisciplinary, alternative general education program. The department promotes creative and imaginative engagement through a cross-disciplinary investigation of complex systems and problems. Learn more at https://interdisciplinary.appstate.edu.
About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Appalachian State University is home to 17 academic departments, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. CAS 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. More than 6,400 student majors are enrolled in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing App State’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.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.