Course Descriptions

Revelations: A Staged Reading Celebrating Appalachian Resilience in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trangender People

The Klines offer a community or academic residency generally lasting a week, combining producing Revelations with teaching classes and workshops on Appalachian Studies, folklife, music, oral history and gender studies.

Listening for a Change: Oral History and Appalachian Heritage

Open up to five days of intensive listening and learning in the Allegheny Highlands. These rugged mountains have nurtured a rich and vibrant culture that resonates in its oral traditions. Learn to document life stories and community experience through the art of deep listening. This course will explore techniques for seeking out and recording oral testimonials, along with steps to developing, sharing and archiving oral history projects.

Learn the tools and techniques of folklife documentation. Appreciate West Virginia spoken arts. Delve into your own story line. This eight-day intensive class incorporates one-on-one student interviews, group discussion, field trips, group interviews with local tellers and tradition bearers and community interviews in teams. Where possible, students should come with audio recorders and cameras. This course is open to anyone wanting to broaden their appreciation for the richness of local life by exploring the vibrancy of folklore and the oral tradition.

New Skills:

  • Learn new levels of listening to yourself and others.
  • Make connections with people from diverse cultural perspectives.
  • Develop interviewing skills to record life stories.
  • Learn technical details for producing broadcast-quality field recordings.
  • Learn to recognize and experience varied flavors of regional culture.
  • Apply this class to coursework or professional development in fields such as Folklore, Anthropology, Communications, English, History, American Studies, Social Work, Planning, Law, Criminal Justice, Biology, Geology, Education, Economics, Health and Healing, Hospice, Environmental Studies, Psychology, Theology, Ethnomusicology, Cultural Journalism, and Tourism.

Instructors Michael and Carrie Kline, folklorists, audio producers, singers and guitar players, met through a mutual love for the spoken word and song. Their production company, Talking Across the Lines: Worldwide Conversations, has documented both individual narratives and interwoven expression of broad communities. The Klines are experienced at teaching deep listening, oral history and Appalachian heritage. They are seasoned audio producers and public folklorists. Their courses have attracted students from various disciplines and professionals of all kinds, including social workers and carpenters, educators and museum directors, and life-long learners.

The Cool of the Day: Singing in Sacred Places

Does being in a cool glen along the banks of a wild river in a deep forest ever make you want to break into song? Does it rekindle thoughts of pioneers and hard times? How did singing sustain them through long nights and lonely days? Young and old alike looked forward to hearing their favorite stories told and sung around the hearth when the work was done.

For a week this summer, folklorists Michael and Carrie Kline, devoted to singing and sharing Appalachian folk music, will lead a class through the Allegheny Mountain country of north-central West Virginia, teaching songs from local family repertoires. Singing instruction will plant each of the old songs firmly in each student’s memory in the course of the week. The class will travel from Elkins daily to sing on mountaintops, huge rock formations, riverbanks and in shady groves. This weeklong program, titled “The Cool of the Day: Singing in Sacred Places,” runs daily from Sunday evening through Friday. The class can accommodate twelve students and will fill quickly.

Michael Kline has been active since the late 1970s in preserving old ballads, work songs and fiddle tunes. Carrie Nobel Kline is a compelling singer and experienced documentarian. Recording in homes across the Alleghenies and beyond, they have documented the singing of West Virginia’s Hammons, Carpenter, Marks, and Stover family members among many others, and enjoyed close friendships with traditional singers. Michael published articles about fiddlers such as Ernie Carpenter and Woody Simmons and singers such as Hazel Stover, Ethel Caffie Austin and Nat Reese. Music is at the heart of West Virginia culture and experience. From the very first, it sustained our ancestors. They sang to survive in the wilderness.

Two hundred fifty years ago, hardy immigrants from the British Isles began to settle the rugged mountains of West Virginia. Arriving on leaky ships after months on stormy seas, they brought to the New World musical traditions often pre-dating the Middle Ages. The ancient, raw ballads of old Europe have survived in the singing memories of many West Virginia families. The old, mostly a cappella songs resonate with images of ancient kingdoms, crusades, deeds of both valor and treachery, and broken-hearted love, as well as humorous ditties and religious ballads, blues and camp meeting songs.

Michael and Carrie Kline’s previous students have come from West Virginia and far beyond. Brooklyn, New York, resident Helen Engelhardt attests, “I went down to the hills of West Virginia for a week of Appalachian music and lore. It was the Klines–their warmth and love for each other and the people whose stories and songs they have dedicated their lives to recording and sharing–that was the ultimate gift.”

Classes for Children