This course will examine the history of religion and labor in southern Appalachia beginning in the 19th century to present. Slavery, abolitionism, coal mining, clothing and textiles, race, and class will be important topics of the course. Area labor struggles with religious involvement in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and Southeast Kentucky will be a focus.
Jim Sessions is a United Methodist minister who has lived and worked in Southern Appalachia for over forty years serving as executive director during that time of several social and economic justice organizations: Southern Appalachian Ministry, Southerners for Economic Justice, the Commission on Religion in Appalachia, the Highlander Research and Education Center, and the Union Community Fund of the AFL-CIO, as well as program director of the Children’s Defense Fund’s national training center: Alex Haley Farm. He is the founding president of the Working America Education Fund, acting chair of the National Employment Law Project, and is a founding director of the national board of Interfaith Worker Justice.
Five sessions: Thursdays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., June 11, 25, July 2, 9 and 16
A culture’s myths contain its roots, the ideas and images that show how the world works, how people should live, what is important or valuable or divine. By listening to mythic tales of one culture, we can learn something of how its people see the world and their place in it. Listening deeply to myths of a variety of cultures, experiencing the differences and the commonalities between them, can bring us closer to the heart of the broader human condition. In this class, we will listen to (not read) some of the great myths and also some of the smaller ones, sharing the images and themes that resonate most for us. This will not be a course in classical or comparative mythology; it’s mostly a course in how to listen to a story. Bring a journal or notebook with you to hold notes, drawings, doodles, snatches of poetry, whatever pops into your mind while listening.
Kathleen Mavournin grew up in Minnesota, fascinated by myths, folktales and fairytales. She has lived more than 45 years in East Tennessee, holds a PhD in Microbiology from UT, and worked 20+ years at ORNL. On retirement 15 years ago, she turned into a professional storyteller. Her repertoire includes rarely heard stories from remote places as well as Appalachian, Native American, and European tales. She’s a graduate of the School of Sacred Storytelling and a member of the Healing Story Alliance. She leads workshops on telling life stories, creating fairytales from personal experience or goddess mythology; she teaches storytelling to children and teaches teachers to teach storytelling to children.
Five sessions: Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., July 8, 15, 22, 29 and August 5
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