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Delta Blues Symposium XIV
to focus on 'Sense of Place'

Feb. 28, 2008 -- "Sense of Place" provides the theme for this year’s Delta Blues Symposium, the 14th annual conference that brings scholars, students, performers, and artists from all over the nation to the Arkansas State University campus, in order to examine the Delta, consider its problems, and celebrate its culture.

Sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy with assistance from other components in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and supported in part by an award from the National Endowment of the Arts, the event will take place from Thursday, March 27, through Saturday, March 29. Unless otherwise noted, all events will take place in the Student Union.

The Symposium will convene at 2 p.m. when students from ASU’s English MA Program will present a paper on "Ethnography and Literature in the work of Eudora Welty" in the Mockingbird Room. The students are Patricia Bissig, Helen Duclos, Jeffrey Gray, Brandon Looney and Suzanne White.

At 4 p.m., in the Mockingbird Room, ASU English Professor Gregory Hansen will moderate a transdisciplinary forum on "Placemaking and the Blues," featuring ASU’s Dean of Humanities Gloria Gibson, and ASU History Professor Cherisse Jones-Branch, along with J. Michael Luster, the director of the Arkansas Folklife Program.

Thursday’s Symposium concludes with a concert by one-of-a-kind bluesman James "Super Chikan" Johnson. He will perform at the Fine Arts Center Recital Hall at 8 p.m. 

Friday morning, March 28, begins with a paper session at 9 am. "Delta Insiders and Outsiders" will take place in the Pine Room. Lillie Fears, professor of journalism at ASU, will join two presenters from the University of North Texas and the University of West Alabama.

At 10:30, panelists from around the country will meet in the Mockingbird Room to discuss "Blues Places: The Delta."

Friday afternoon’s schedule of events begins at one pm, with another paper session in the Mockingbird Room. The panel "Delta Depths" features scholars from around the country.

The next session begins at 2:30 p.m., also in the Mockingbird Room. Three music scholars will discuss "Blues Places: Beyond the Delta."

At 4:30, Theresa Townsend, Faulkner scholar and University of Texas-Dallas professor, will deliver the Symposium’s featured lecture in the Auditorium. Her talk will be followed by a question and answer period.

Friday’s events will conclude with readings by the Symposium’s featured creative writers: poet Ralph Burns and novelist Jack Butler. Mr. Burns’s reading is co-sponsored by the Lecture-Concert Series, and Mr. Butler’s reading is co-sponsored by Arkansas Review. The readings will take place in the Grand Hall of the Fowler Center at 7:30.

Sessions resume at 8:30 on Saturday morning, March 29. In the Mockingbird Room, ASU alumna Katherine Dillion will be joined by two other scholars for a panel on Delta Literature.

At 10 a.m., two poets will read from their own work in the Mockingbird Room.

And at 11:15 a.m. the Symposium concludes with a panel in the Mockingbird Room on Eudora Welty, whose essay "Place in Fiction," is often considered to be where the phrase "sense of place" was first coined. Featured panelists will include noted Welty scholars Mae Claxton of Western Carolina University, Peggy Prenshaw of Millsaps College, and Sally Wolff from Emory University.

Delta Blues Symposium XIV is sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy at ASU. For further information, contact the Department of English and Philosophy at 870-972-3043 or visit the website: All Symposium events are free and open to the public.

For details, contact:
Thomas S. Williams, Symposium Committee, or 972-3043

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