Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Jennifer Reynolds


Oral historians have often felt obligated to collect stories during disasters and crises, to preserve recollections of experiences and trauma of those affected. During the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, this surge was certainly present. Appalachia, although its boundaries are contested, has a strong association with oral histories, and thus was the focus of one project in particular: a collaboration with the Blue Ridge Public Radio and the Foxfire Appalachian Heritage Museum to collect, curate, publish, and broadcast oral histories of "local" individuals. But what does it mean to be local, in a region as broad as Appalachia? What content, or rather whose stories make a good news story or a magazine story? How are stories altered to fit this frame of representing Appalachia? This thesis first summarizes my summer research in the archives of the Foxfire Appalachian Heritage Museum in Mountain City, Georgia, as I gathered transcripts of the project and spoke with the museum assistant curator about the process. Using discussions of entextualization, recontextualization, and remediation, I then analyze these transcripts to answer these questions of story-making and identity (Bauman and Briggs 1990; Bauman 2016; Koven 2014). I show that editors adjust texts to circulate outside of the time of narration and original context of the original interview, without relying on folksy images of Appalachia, and that oral history narrators deftly operate between various speaker-inhabitance roles to tell their own stories of Appalachia during the COVID-19 pandemic.


© 2023, Ashley Reid McGraw

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