First Year Seminar: The Story of Place 

“... { I } stand on this part of the earth that is so full of my own history and so much damaged by it, and ask: What is this place? What is in it? What is its nature? How should {people} live in it? What must I do?” - Wendell Berry, “A Native Hill” 

Course Description: How does a place shape a story, and how does a story shape a place? How does a story shape the teller and the listener? When we listen to the stories of a place, we send our “mind into the place like a live root system.” The speaker of this quotation, Wendell Berry, claims that we must learn how we fit into a place: what its needs are and what is required of us. It is in the stories of a place that we try to find answers to Berry’s questions. In this course, we will be both listeners and storytellers of Warren Wilson, Swannanoa, Asheville, and southern Appalachia. We will learn the story of the rocks and plants, of the ancient people and newcomers, of racial and socio-economic patterns of city-building. We will delve into our own personal stories and explore the connection between ourselves and our place. And, in honing the skill of analyzing the patterns of this place, we will then be able to apply those skills to other places, better equipping us to answer Berry’s final question of “what must I do?”.