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EKU Libraries will join the Department of Communication to host the panel “Appalachian Reckoning: A Response to Hillbilly Elegy,” held on Thursday, Nov. 14 in the Crabbe Library. The reception will begin at 5:30 p.m., with the panel discussion to follow at 6 p.m.

J.D. Vance’s memoir, “Hillbilly Elegy,” has been surrounded by controversy since its 2016 release. “Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy,” published in 2019, features the responses of Appalachian natives, including EKU graduate Ivy Brashear. She, co-editor Anthony Harkins and contributing author Robert Gipe will serve as panelists for the event.

Brashear, a Perry County, Kentucky, native and tenth generation Appalachian, graduated from EKU with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and Appalachian Studies. She has since served as a reporter, filmmaker, blogger and staff member for many organizations dedicated to advancing Appalachia. She is now an Appalachian Transition and Communications Associate at the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Kentucky, and an adjunct faculty member in the EKU Department of Communication.

When Dr. Deborah Givens, chair of the Department of Communication, checked Appalachian Reckoning out of the library, she was surprised to find a chapter written by her former student and colleague. “I was so excited I immediately texted her my congratulations,” said Givens. “And, of course, went out to buy my own copy.”

Givens also immediately contacted Betina Gardner, former Dean of Libraries, with the idea for a panel discussing the book and recognizing its contributors.

“We think the important focus here is that people understand there are two sides to every story,” said Christina Stallard, Director of Library Advancement at EKU. “We wanted the people who live in this region to have a space to share their experiences and hear about themselves in a way that wasn’t necessarily represented in ‘Hillbilly Elegy.’”

The event is sponsored by EKU Libraries, the Department of Communication, and Appalachian Studies. For more information, contact Deborah Givens at or Christina Stallard at