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Delta Blues Symposium XII
to focus on 'Delta Diversity'

March 9, 2006 -- "Delta Diversity" provides the theme for this year’s Delta Blues Symposium, the 12th annual conference that brings together scholars, students, performers, and artists on the Arkansas State University campus to examine the Delta, consider its problems, and celebrate its culture. The event attracts scholars from throughout the country as well as artists, students, and the general public from Arkansas and the Delta.

Sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy with assistance from other components in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and from the Department of Music, the event will take place from Thursday, March 30, through Saturday, April 1. Unless otherwise noted, all events will take place in the Student Union.

Prior to the Symposium, Jimmie Lou Fisher, former treasurer of the State of Arkansas, will speak Thursday morning at 8. Her talk, entitled "Yes, Delta Girls Can Do Math! My Experiences in County and State Government," will take place in the Auditorium.

The conference begins at 10:30, when a panel of ASU students will present papers on "Sex and the South" in the Mockingbird Room. Participants are Kathleen Stone, Heather Bels, Dedric Lee, and Courtney Clements.

The Symposium will re-convene at 2 p.m. for concurrent paper sessions. Students in ASU’s Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program will present papers on "The Civil Rights Movement in History, Memory, and Imagination" in the Mockingbird Room. They are Michael Bowman, Melany Bowman, Nicole Smith, and Lisa Perry. Meanwhile, a session on "Bluesmen and Blueswomen" will be presented by four scholars from various parts on the country in the Pine Tree Room.

At 4:30 Grif Stockley, Dee Brown Fellow at the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, will read from his biography of Arkansas civil rights pioneer Daisy Bates in the Mockingbird Room. Stockley will also be signing copies of his book.  Click here for more details

Kenny NealThursday’s Symposium concludes with a concert by Louisiana musician Kenny Neal. He will perform at the Forum in downtown Jonesboro at 8 p.m.  Click here for more details.

Friday morning, March 31, begins with concurrent paper sessions at 8:30. "Delta Blues and Delta Literature: Texts and Contexts" will take place in the Mockingbird Room. Justin Vawter from the University of North Texas will join ASU participants Jodi Morris and Anna Westman for this session. Simultaneously, "Defining Delta Identities" will convene in the Pine Tree Room. Scholars from the University of Louisiana at Monroe and the University of Mississippi along with Frances Muccini and Wayne Narey from ASU will appear at that session.

Sterling D. PlumppThree concurrent sessions will take place at 11 p.m. The Mockingbird Room will provide the venue for "Creative Writing: Prose," during which writers from northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri will read from their works.  At the same time, panelists from around the country will meet in the Pine Tree Room to discuss "Sterling Blues: The Blues Poetics of Sterling D. Plumpp."  Simultaneously, a session on "Delta Music Beyond the Delta" in the Auditorium will afford a forum for presentations by scholars from various colleges and universities.

Friday afternoon’s schedule of events begins with another set of concurrent paper sessions: "Creative Writing: Poetry" in the Mockingbird Room and "Blues Backgrounds" in the Pine Tree Room.  Both sessions will feature presenters from around the country as well as ASU student Lisa Perry.

At 4:30 Keith Wailoo, professor of history at Rutgers University, will deliver the Symposium’s featured lecture in the Auditorium. His topic "How Cancer Crossed the Color Line: Problems with Identity and Region in the War on Disease" reflects his status as one of the country’s leading medical historians. Click here for details.

Tom PiazzaFriday’s events will conclude with readings by the Symposium’s featured creative writers: poet Sterling Plumpp and novelist and nonfiction writer Tom Piazza. Their readings will take place in the Grand Hall of the Fowler Center at 7:30. Click here for more about these writers.

Concurrent sessions begin at 8:30 on Saturday morning, April 1. One will bring together several scholars from the region to discuss "Peter McGehee, Arkansas Novelist." This session will take place in the Pine Tree Room. At the same time, "Delta Economies" will occur in the Mockingbird Room with presentations by Larry R. Dale and Patricia Toney-McLin, Lillie M. Fears, and Lenore Shoults, all of ASU.

At 11 a.m., a panel on "Delta Foodways" will convene in the Mockingbird Room. Featured  will be a multimedia presentation, "The Mississippi Delta Hot Tamale Trail," by Amy Evans of the Southern Foodways Alliance. She will be joined by Joe St. Columbia, owner and operator of Pasquale’s Tamales in Helena.  Click for details.

A concert of Latino music, featuring musicians and dancers from northeast Arkansas, will take place at 2 p.m. at the ASU Pavilion.  Click for details.

The Symposium will conclude with the annual Delta Composers Concert, sponsored by the Department of Music. This will begin at 5 p.m. in Riceland Hall, Fowler Center.

Delta Blues Symposium XII 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.

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