Date on Senior Honors Thesis


Document Type

Senior Honors Thesis

Degree Name




Degree Program

College of Arts and Sciences

Author's Keywords

Poetry; Anti-Colonialism; Appalachia; Anti-Capitalism; Activism; Art


Colonialism has played a large and complicated part in the history of Appalachia. Upon European contact, almost all Indigenous people were violently removed from the region along with the cultural, agricultural, and linguistic traditions they cultivated in the mountains. The white colonizers who stole the lands were then economically exploited by the wealthier colonizers to the North and East. In light of the complex dynamics of language, place, and exploitation in the Appalachian Mountains, poetry shows promise as a means of linguistic resistance as well as an intellectual and archival practice that might lead to better understanding the multi-dimensional history of colonialism in the region. This analysis of socially engaged poetics is followed by a collection of poems about capitalism, ecology, exploitation, language, and archival traditions in the Appalachian region.

Lay Summary

The Appalachian Mountains, like the rest of the Americas, were stolen from their Indigenous inhabitants and colonized by white Europeans. Following this colonization, the settlers struggled to live off the land, because they had little access to language or knowledge about cultivating the area, but some European colonizers realized that the area was rich in lumber and coal, so the impoverished white colonizers of the region were oppressed by the wealthier colonizers living in more prosperous regions. This exploitation piled on top of exploitation results in a complicated and troubling history that is often simplified on the national stage. After analyzing a long history of activist poets, it seems poetry might serve an appropriate artistic form to better express the complex history of exploitation and violence in the region. This analysis is followed by a series of poems about language, oppression and environmentalism that attempt to illustrate the nuanced experiences of life in Appalachian Mountains.