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21 May
gaslight Reminiscent of the lamps that lit the streets of old U. S. cities, “Capitalism By Gaslight: Illuminating the Economy of Nineteenth-Century America,” exposes the shadowy transactions that helped to shape the nation’s economy.

Brian Luskey, associate professor of history at West Virginia University, edited the essay collection along with his co-editor Wendy Woloson, who teaches history at Rutgers University-Camden. The University of Pennsylvania Press published the volume.

While powerful businessmen and bankers have occupied the attention of many historians of the era, the essays in this collection examine the prostitutes, dealers in used goods, mock auctioneers, illegal slavers, traffickers in stolen horses, emigrant runners, pilfering dockworkers, and other ordinary people who, through their economic activities, helped to make capitalism, too.

“Their transactions, business strategies, and ways of thinking about the morality of the market should be understood as part of capitalism’s history, rather than having it be marginalized in favor of the more well-known stories of the most successful and powerful citizens,” Luskey said.

“Our essayists have dug deeply into archival records around the country to unearth new stories about petty proprietors that offer vital new perspectives on our economic past,” Luskey said. “I hope ‘Capitalism by Gaslight’ helps readers understand how ordinary people tried to strive and survive through their economic activities in the nineteenth century.”

21 May
CinderBottom The year is 1910. Halley’s Comet has just signaled the end of the world, and boxing heavyweight king Jack Johnson has knocked out the “Great White Hope,” Jim Jeffries.

Keystone, West Virginia, is the region’s biggest boomtown, and on a rainy Sunday morning in August, its townspeople are gathered in a red-light district known as Cinder Bottom to witness the first public hanging in over a decade. Abe Baach and Goldie Toothman are at the gallows, awaiting their execution.

Their fates are decided in “A Hanging At Cinder Bottom,” the latest novel from Glenn Taylor, assistant professor of English at West Virginia University and National Book Critics Circle Award–finalist. The book hits bookstores July 13 and is the third book from the author, following “The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart” and “The Marrowbone Marble Company.”

Set the year of Mark Twain’s death and the panic-inducing glance of Halley’s Comet, “A Hanging at Cinder Bottom” is a smart, historical fiction that is part heist caper, part love story.

“I read a newspaper account of the last public hanging in the state, in 1897,” Taylor said. “It was a hell of an article. Without knowing why or to what end, I put Abe and Goldie on the gallows, and I just went, with little else beyond knowing what was in their past, which was, of course: cards, brothels, fights, shootings, and liquor.”

Taylor reviewed texts at the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and read through historical texts to accurately paint the picture of the time period. He also took inspiration from accounts of older citizens in McDowell.

“I’d long heard about a game of cards in Thurmond that continued uninterrupted for 14 years,” he said. “I had a hazy notion of such a thing in mind, and I’d also always been drawn to the way older folks spoke of Keystone, in McDowell County, particularly its infamous red light district known as Cinder Bottom. Cards, brothels, fights, shootings, and liquor—-everyone knew what it was like in the boom years in Keystone.”

Publishers Weekly called the novel “a sprawling, lively, serio-comic mountaineer novel set in his native West Virginia. The backwoods humor is somewhat reminiscent of Daniel Woodrell, which includes flatulence jokes and over-the-top bedlam as Taylor closes out his rollicking yarn with poetic justice.”

Taylor’s specializations include fiction and 20th century American writing, particularly from Appalachia. He received his masters of fine arts from Texas State University and his masters degree from Ohio University.

19 May

The School of Social Work and the School of Public Health at West Virginia University will host the 37th Summer Institute on Aging, June 2-4, at the Lakeview Resort and Conference Center in Morgantown, West Virginia.

The theme for this year’s conference is “What’s Old is New Again.”

Bill Taverner, executive director of The Center for Sex Education and editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Sexuality Education, will kick off the conference June 2 with the presentation “Sexuality in the Golden Years.” This opening keynote presentation is sponsored by the Beatrice Ruth Burgess Center for West Virginia Families and Communities.

On June 3, the annual Anita S. Harbert Outstanding Achievement in Aging Award will be presented to Joan Hudnall.

The annual honor is awarded to a West Virginia social worker who has made a significant contribution in the field of aging and is named after the social work professor who helped to begin the Summer Institute on Aging in 1977.

Hudnall, an adult protective services supervisor in the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, was nominated by Susie Layne and Wade Samples.

“If there was one person we could clone, it would be Joan Hudnall, because she exemplifies what a professional social worker should be,” Layne wrote in the nomination letter for Hudnall’s recognition.

“With her knowledge, passion and courage in the face of adversity, Wade and I believe she is an excellent candidate for the prestigious Anita Harbert Award.”

Hudnall has more than 40 years of experience working with West Virginia families. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Alderson and Broaddus in 1974 and obtained her social work license in 1983.

Over the course of her career, she’s gone from point of entry worker, to income maintenance, foster care, child protective services, homefinding, adult services and has been an adult protective service supervisor for more than 27 years.

Hudnall has promoted awareness of elder abuse and neglect by spearheading West Virginia’s World Elder Abuse Awareness Day in Nicholas County. She has continuously trained and coached staff to help them to thoroughly investigate abuse and neglect cases. In 2014, she received the Ronald Nester Award, an honor that recognizes individuals who have advocated ending elder abuse and have helped raise awareness of the issue.

Conference workshops will include, but are not limited to, key topics such as: “Quality of Life – Is There Life Without It?,” “Financial Exploitation of Boomers: New Victims, Old Crimes,” and “Aging-in-Place: Using Assistive Technology to Achieve Your Goals.”

The conference has been approved for a maximum of 20 continuing education contact hours for licensed social workers in West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Social workers from other states should contact their respective licensure boards regarding approval prior to registering for the conference.

The 37th Summer Institute on Aging has also been approved for counseling hours. For a listing of approved West Virginia licensed professional counselor sessions, go to

This conference has been approved for a maximum of 18 continuing education units for nurses through the WVU School of Public Health.

Conference participants will be provided lunch each day and free parking will be made available for commuters.

For more information on this event including a downloadable brochure and registration form, conference schedule and exhibitor application, please visit

For more information, contact Jacki Englehardt at 304-293-3280, or email

19 May

Alan Goodboy, associate professor of communications at West Virginia University, has been featured in a WDTV report detailing how bullying may be on the decline.

“What we can do is we need to focus our efforts more towards cyber-bullying because we’re seeing an increase in cyber-bullying, even though a decrease in face-to-face bullying in schools. I think the key to decreasing bullying in schools is focusing on bystanders, because oftentimes we know that when a child sees bullying happening, or an adolescent sees bullying, that one of the best things that another student can do is intervene in some manner,” said Dr. Alan Goodboy, an Associate Professor of Communications at West Virginia University.

Click below to watch the interview.

19 May

The West Virginia Writers’ Workshop will be celebrating its 19th anniversary when it hosts writers from around the country on WVU’s downtown campus July 16 to July 19. Visiting writers include Paula McLain, best-selling author of “The Paris Wife,” a novel about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson.

The workshop is designed to give writers at any stage of their careers the opportunity to improve their craft. Participants work with nationally and internationally acclaimed authors, editors, and publishers in classes of no more than 12 students. In addition, the Workshop features readings, craft talks, writing exercises, and a publishing panel.

Spots in the workshop are open until June 1. Sign up can be done on line:

“This is great chance for writers at any stage of their careers to work on their craft with outstanding professional writers and peers from across the country,” said Mark Brazaitis, a professor in WVU’s Department of English and the workshop’s director. “Anyone with an interest in creative writing—poetry, fiction, or nonfiction—should sign up. No experience necessary.”

This year’s visiting writers and workshop leaders are McLain, David Hassler, Katherine Matthews Erin Murphy, and Howard Owen. They will be joined by WVU faculty Mark Brazaitis, James Harms, Renee Nicholson, and Natalie Sypolt.

In addition to “The Paris Wife,” McLain is the author of the forthcoming “Circling the Sun,” a novel about Beryl Markham, a pioneer in aviation who, in Kenya in the 1920s, was caught up in a love triangle with safari hunter Denys Finch Hatton and Karen Blixen, who (as Isak Dinesen) wrote Out of Africa.

“Paula’s new novel is bound to be a critical and popular success, and it will released about the same time as our workshop,” Brazaitis said. “The timing is perfect.”

Owen is the author of a dozen novels, including Oregon Hill, which won the 2012 Hammett Prize for best crime literature in the U.S. and Canada. Murphy is the author of six award-winning collections of poetry, and her work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac.

Hassler is the director of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University, and Matthews is an editor at PageSpring Publishing.

For more information, contact Mark Brazaitis at 304-293-9707 or or go to the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop Web site at

15 May

Associate chair of the Department of Geology and Geography Brent McCusker has been featured in an article on ClimateWare detailing climate change. McCusker serves as co-author to the study being profiled.

“A lot of people are talking about rainy seasons ending early or having an intense dry period in the middle of the rainy season. That really wreaks havoc on people’s crops,” McCusker said. “If you look at total rainfall, you might not see the issue, until you look at weekly or monthly rainfall and the effect on crops.”

Read the full article here:

15 May

Historic log structures, like the McCoy Fort in Greenbrier County, W.Va. and many others, play a vital role in historic interpretation of a region when written records are incomplete or uncertain.

Accurate construction dates improve interpretations of political, social, economic, and cultural practices during construction and allow the buildings to be tied to calendar dated historical documents.

In West Virginia, many log structures built for housing, storage, industry, and fortification during periods of great historical significance are still standing. The construction dates for many of these structures are unknown; therefore the potential significance of these structures is unrecognized.

Amy Hessl, professor of Geology at WVU, together with doctoral student Kristen de Graauw, of the Montane Forest Dynamics Lab, have received funding from the West Virginia Humanities Council to use tree rings to provide cutting dates and inferred construction dates for three undated historic log structures in West Virginia. Structures to be examined are the Barracks of Lewisburg, Old Kile Homestead of Upper Tract, and McCoy Fort of Williamsburg.

Tree-ring dating of historic structures provides an annual cutting date for structural timbers, which then promotes pride in preserving historical buildings and deepens our knowledge of a structure’s historical context.

Hessl also serves as lab coordinator for the Forest Dynamics Lab, which focuses on the interaction between climate variability, ecosystem processes, and human activities in forested systems.

To learn more about the Historic Timbers Project and follow the tree-ring dating process of these structures, visit

15 May

The Department of Forensic and Investigative Science announces the Summer 2015 season of professional and community education programs for law enforcement and forensic professionals who wish to earn continuing education credit.

May Courses
May 12-13: Basic Crime Scene Photography for Law Enforcement
May 12-14: Forensic Examination of Paint Evidence
May 14: Latent Print Development for Law Enforcement
All courses are free and if the attendee is not local, the lodge is also provided. The travel accommodations and expenses are the responsibility of the attendee. For more information on the courses and to view an agenda for each course, please visit
Continuing Education for Forensic Professional Program
June 15-19
July 13-17
August 10-14
September 13-19
All courses are free and will be filled based on an application process based on individual and agency need. Transportation will be the responsibility of the attendee or agency. Lodging will be free to all approved attendees. The course schedule allows attendees to participate in more than one course throughout the week. For more information visit:

15 May

Karen Culcasi, assistant professor of geography at West Virginia University, has been appointed to the editorial review board for Geographical Review.

The journal is one of the leading authoritative and scholarly periodicals devoted exclusively to geography. It is published quarterly by The American Geographical Society.

“I am pleased and honored to join the new editorial board of the Geographical Review, “Culcasi said. “I look forward to supporting the board’s endeavors to increase the intellectual and scholarly impacts of one of geography’s oldest and most well-established journals.”

Geographical Review’s board is made up of internationally known experts in geography and related fields from across the United States.

Culcasi’s research and teaching uses critical and feminist geopolitical frames to examine contested places and identities. Her work focuses on the Middle East and the Arab world.

She is currently examining how Palestinian refugees in Jordan and the United States map and imagine their homeland, and how Syrian refugee women in Jordan are negotiating their changing gender roles during this time of crisis.

14 May

Ten years ago, the Vietnamese government officially recognized social work as a profession. It then set an ambitious goal: Train 50,000 social workers by 2020. There are only approximately 50 people holding master’s degrees or doctorates in social work in Vietnam. So who will teach these 50,000 social workers?

West Virginia University, in collaboration with An Giang University, and the Pacific Links Foundation, is celebrating 10 years of helping to build the intellectual infrastructure of social work in Vietnam through its Summer Institute on Social Work and Community Health Services this summer. The institute is held from May 25 to June 10.

Attendance at the institute is expected to be more than 100. After the conference, the rector of An Giang University will visit WVU with 10 high school students who will be attending a 4-H camp sponsored by University Extension Services. Attendance at this camp is an outgrowth of the Summer Institute.

Offering such an institute, organizers say, supports education for social service workers who may lack the specialized training necessary for their jobs..

“They have great hearts, but they could benefit from additional skills,” said Neal Newfield, associate professor in the WVU School of Social Work and organizer of the institute.. “They may already be practicing social work, but they’re not going to be able to go back to school and get a degree. But we can help their skills.”

Newfield, along with Susan Newfield, associate professor at the School of Nursing and chair of Family and Community Health at WVU, and Jim Keim of the Southeast Asia Children’s Project made a 10-year commitment to teach social work in Vietnam. The effort has also been supported by the efforts of others from WVU including School of Social Work professors Patricia Chase, Hae Jung Kim, Denis Scott from WVU Extension Service, and Julian Nguyen, interim program coordinator for University College Advising at WVU.

Over the two and a half weeks of the workshops, WVU faculty and other volunteers from Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Loa, and Vietnam will teach workshops ranging from child development, family therapy, and human trafficking, to program planning. Professors of social work, practicing social workers, and social work students from across Vietnam travel to theinstitute. Some participants travel for two days to attend the workshops and participants from Cambodia and Lao have not been uncommon.

This institute is taught in tandem with the School of Social Work’s Vietnam social work elective. Students enrolled in this course spend a month in Vietnam and Cambodia, participate in the sponsored Social Work Institute and get a view of a developing country few tourists get while receiving 100 service hours through the Office of Civic Engagement.

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