Documenting Appalachia (Online)


For decades, photographers have been drawn to make images in Appalachia. Duke’s Archive of Documentary Arts at the Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library is home to the collections of such photographers as Rob Amberg, William Gedney, Doris Ulmann, Sarah Hoskins, Renee Jacobs, as well as the Looking at Appalachia project. By reviewing images in these collections, we will examine differences and similarities in the work, discuss the importance of context in place-based image making, and explore our own styles, aesthetics, and the filters we bring to making photographs in the region. (12 hours/All levels)

Please note: This course is offered in an online format and will not physically meet at CDS but will have regularly scheduled virtual sessions.

Roger May is an Appalachian American photographer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He was born in the Tug River Valley, located on the West Virginia and Kentucky state line, in the heart of Hatfield and McCoy country. His photographs, essays, and interviews have been published by the New York Times, the Guardian, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera America, National Geographic, the Oxford American, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Bitter Southerner, Appalachian Heritage, and others. In February 2014, he started the crowdsourced Looking at Appalachia project. May often speaks about his work, about the visual representation of Appalachia, and photographs on commission. He blogs at

Additional information:
A late-model computer, fast internet connection, and built-in camera are recommended, though not required. Students with less than optimal hardware or internet connections are welcome to take the course, though it may be difficult to participate fully in virtual meetings.

There will be no class July 26.


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