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Bill Best’s “From Existence to Essence” Offers a Conceptual and Mythological Model for an Appalachian Studies Curriculum


Bill Best, an educator with decades of experience, has published his groundbreaking dissertation, “From Existence to Essence: A Conceptual and Mythological Model for an Appalachian Studies Curriculum,” for the first time. The dissertation, completed 50 years ago, has been praised by educators and readers alike for its emphasis on self-discovery, self-definition, and creativity.

In his book, Best explores the impact of two different types of education he received in his formative years: one of the public school system, and the other from his extended family on their farm in Appalachia. He argues that it is crucial to have both good book sense and good horse sense, but that in his community, the latter was often valued more highly.

Best’s focus on self-discovery and creativity has been vindicated by his own experiences and by his attempts to locate and interview former students from his Project Torchlight, directed in 1966 and 1967. His work has also been compared to that of Joseph Campbell, a mythology scholar, although Best was not aware of Campbell’s work at the time, he wrote his dissertation.

The book, which has been unchanged since its original publication except for a new title that includes mythology, aims to provide a model for an Appalachian studies curriculum that includes both conceptual and mythological components. Best argues that myths can be very helpful in organizing the clutter on our personal and collective unconscious, and that this is especially important when examining one’s own upbringing.

Readers who are interested in Best’s work and the impact of his ideas on education are invited to visit his website at, where they can purchase a copy of “From Existence to Essence” and engage with his ongoing work.

From Existence to Essence
Author: Bill Best
Publisher: Your Online Publicist
Publication Date: May 2023
Genre: Memoir
Target Audience: General Audience
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-63892-607-8
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-63892-608-5

About the Author
Bill Best is one of the recognized founders of modern Appalachian Studies. He is a pioneer of such programs a Torchlight and Upward Bound. In this field Bill is not needing of introduction, his work speaks for him.

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 Bill Best
 From Existence To Essence
 Appalachian Studies

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