UK Happenings

William Turner returns to UK to discuss ‘The Harlan Renaissance’ Oct. 17

photo of William H. Turner
photo of William H. Turner

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 3, 2022) — This month, the University of Kentucky will welcome author and distinguished alumnus William H. Turner, Ph.D., back to campus for a presentation on his latest, awarding-winning book, “The Harlan Renaissance: Stories of Black Life in Appalachian Coal Towns.”

The presentation, titled “The Blues on Black Mountain: Stories from The Harlan Renaissance,” will take place 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17, in the William T. Young Library’s UK Athletics Auditorium. A reception will follow at 6:30 p.m. at the Appalachian Center, located at 624 Maxwelton Court on campus.

The event is co-sponsored by the UK Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program, the Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, the African American and Africana Studies Program, the Gaines Center for the Humanities and the Department of Sociology

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Turner back on UK's campus,” said Kathryn Engle, director of the UK Appalachian Center. “He is a pioneer in Appalachian studies and his new book ‘The Harlan Renaissance’ is an important contribution to understanding the complexities of communities in Eastern Kentucky.”

“The Harlan Renaissance” is an intimate remembrance of kinship and community in Eastern Kentucky’s coal towns. Turner reconstructs Black life in the company towns in and around Harlan County during coal’s final postwar boom years, which built toward an enduring bust as the children of Black miners, like the author, left the region in search of better opportunities.

Earlier this year, “The Harlan Renaissance” won a Weatherford Award for nonfiction. Read more here.

Turner has spent most of his career studying and working to help marginalized communities create opportunities in the world without abandoning their cultural ties. He has produced groundbreaking research on African American communities in Appalachia. He has also studied economic systems and social structures in the urban South and burgeoning Latino communities in the Southwest. He co-edited the textbook Blacks in Appalachia and thematic essays on Black Appalachians in the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and the Encyclopedia of Appalachia.

Turner was born in Lynch, Kentucky, in Harlan County. He received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from UK and a doctorate in sociology from the University of Notre Dame. He also attended the Foreign Affairs Scholars Program at Howard University and did postdoctoral work at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University. He also served as the vice president of multicultural affairs at UK. The Appalachian Studies Association honored him for a lifetime of service to the region, and he was inducted into the Kentucky Civil Rights Hall of Fame in 2007. In 2020, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina Asheville. In 2021, he was inducted into the UK College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame.

Copies of "The Harlan Renaissance" will be available for purchase at the event.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

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