Whistlin and Crowin Women of Appalachia: Literacy Practices since College
Case studies of three and interviews with five working class, nontraditional female college graduates illustrate the benefits of academic literacy which gave voice to these women in their homes, jobs, and communities as teachers, social workers, nurses, and homemakers, disproving the Appalachian adage that “Whistlin’ women and crowin’ hens, always come to no good ends.”
Interviews with eight Appalachian women, former students in the author’s composition classroom in the early 1990s and graduates of Preston College in eastern Kentucky, illustrate the positive effects of acquiring academic literacy. Using the images of voice as language, identity, and power, the author examines their journeys and parallels it with her own as a nontraditional doctoral student. Case studies of three of those women show the power of women to rise above cultural constraints to come to college, complete their degrees, take positions of responsibility in their communities, and ultimately come to voice.