Inside ASU, News for Faculty & Staff, Arkansas State University
100th Year

April 7, 2010
Special Edition
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Delta Symposium XVI starts today
Symposium examines Region and the Politics of Culture   
Arkansas State University-Jonesboro will open Delta Symposium XVI: Region and the Politics of Culture, taking place from Wednesday-Saturday, April 7-10. This 16th annual conference brings scholars, students, musicians, and artists from across the nation to the ASU campus to explore and experience the Delta’s history and culture. This year's symposium offers eighteen sessions and more than fifty participants. The event is sponsored by ASU’s Department of English and Philosophy in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, with additional on-campus support, including a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Most events will take place in the Mockingbird Room on the third floor of ASU’s Student Union. For details, contact the Department of English and Philosophy at (870) 972-3043, visit the Delta Symposium Web site, or download a printable program. A plaintext version of the full program is also available.
All symposium events are free and open to the public.

This photo of Terry 'Harmonica' Bean is from last year's Delta Symposium XV's grand finale music festival. Photo courtesy of Dr. Jack Zibluk.
Events begin today at 12 noon, when Dr. Glen Jones, senior associate vice chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, gives a welcome and introduction to Delta Symposium XVI: Region and the Politics of Culture. This will be followed by a panel session, “Teaching Diversity at ASU,” in ASU’s Student Union Auditorium. ASU professors Dr. Mary Donaghy, Dr. Jon Lofton, Dr. Jeanine Weekes Schroer, Dr. Ruth Owens, and Dr. Joe Key will provide students, faculty, and guests with perspectives on teaching in response to the Delta region’s multifaceted diversity. Dr. Cherisse Jones-Branch serves as moderator, and Dr. Gloria Gibson, executive vice president and provost, University of Northern Iowa, serves as discussant. At 2 p.m., a panel, "Teaching True Grit by Charles Portis as a regional community text in composition classes," will be held in the Mockingbird Room. Panelists from the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith include ASU alumna Dr. Glinda F. Hall, Melissa Whiting, Keith Fudge, Mike Cooper, and Kevin Jones. Dr. Victoria Spaniol serves as moderator. At 3:30 p.m., a panel will complete the day’s activities with “Voices of Protest in American Expressive Culture.” Graduate students in ASU’s English and Philosophy Department will directly address the theme by exploring how cultural expression is part of the political dynamics of protest. Barry Broussard, Jacob Hutchinson, Angelyn Metcalf, and Amber Strother will offer perspectives on a wide range of expressive culture, including reggae, rap, heavy metal, and the country music of Loretta Lynn.

Dr. Trudier Harris is DB XVI keynote speaker April 8
ASU’s 16th annual Delta Symposium will present the first of its keynote speakers, Dr. Trudier Harris, on Thursday, April 8, at 11 a.m. in ASU’s Reng Student Union Auditorium. Dr. Trudier Harris will present “The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African American Writers and the South,” based upon her recently published book of the same name. In The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African American Writers and the South” (Louisiana State University Press, 2009), Harris explores why black writers, whether born in Mississippi, New York, or elsewhere, have consistently both loved and hated the South.  For these authors, Harris explains, the South represents not so much a place or even a culture, but a rite of passage. Not one of these writers can consider himself or herself a true African American writer without confronting the idea of the South in a decisive way. Dr. Harris, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is the J. Carlyle Sitterson Professor of English Emerita at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the winner of that institution’s inaugural George H. Johnson prize, recognizing her distinguished achievement as an Institute for the Arts and Humanities (IAH) Faculty Fellow. An eminent authority on African American literature, she is the author of numerous books, including “From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature,” “Saints, Sinners, Saviors: Strong Black Women in African American Literature,” and “Fiction and Folklore: The Novels of Toni Morrison.” She is also co-editor of a number of anthologies, including “The Oxford Companion to African American Literature.” In addition, she has written a memoir, “Summer Snow: Reflections of a Black Daughter of the South.” For details, see the NewsPage release.

Acclaimed poet Ed Madden to read from his work April 8 Acclaimed poet Ed Madden will give a reading of his poems on Thursday, April 8, at 7:30 p.m. at ASU’s Cooper Alumni Center. Madden will highlight works from his new collection of poetry, “Signals,” at the ASU Cooper Alumni Center’s lower lobby. Madden will sign copies of his books at a reception held in his honor following the reading, which is free and open to the public. Madden is the author of “Signals,” selected by Afaa Michael Weaver as winner of the 2007 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. His poems have appeared in the Los Angeles Review, Poetry Ireland, Sojourners, and other journals, as well as  “The Seagull Reader: Poems,” from W.W. Norton, “The Southern Poetry Anthology,” from Texas A&M University Press, and “The Book of Irish American Poetry from the Eighteenth Century to the Present,” published by the University of Notre Dame Press. He was included in “Best New Poets 2007.” Madden grew up on a rice and soybean farm in northeast Arkansas. Madden is currently an associate professor of English and associate director of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Carolina, as well as a writer-in-residence for Riverbanks Botanical Gardens and an artist in residence for the Palmetto Center for the Arts. For details, see the NewsPage release.

Photographer Roland Freeman is keynote speaker April 9
Noted photographer and writer Roland L. Freeman will speak on Friday, April 9, at 5:15 p.m. in the Mockingbird Room of ASU’s Student Union. Freeman’s presentation will showcase photographs he made during the historic Civil Rights march called The Mule Train. The Mule Train was a major march that contributed to the “Poor People’s Campaign” during the summer of 1968.  The march began in the Mississippi Delta in Marks, Miss., with a journey that started with mule-drawn wagons.  Freeman’s work is especially important because his photographs are the major visual record of this aspect of the Civil Rights Movement, and they tell the story of the march from the perspective of Freeman’s own participation in this event. reeman is the founder and president of The Group for Cultural Documentation. Freeman is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance photographer, whose work has been published widely and exhibited throughout the world. He was the first photographer to be awarded a Young Humanist Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Humanities(1970), he is the recipient of the Living Legend Award for Distinguished Achievement in Photography from the National Black Arts Festival (1994), and he was also awarded the prestigious National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (2007), the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Freeman, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, began his professional career in the 1960s, photographing the Civil Rights Movement. Freeman gained his initiation into documentary photography through his apprenticeship and friendship with the groundbreaking African-American photographer Gordon Parks. A major emphasis of Freeman’s work is his ongoing self-assigned project, “While There Is Still Time,” a study of Black culture throughout the African Diaspora that uses the camera as a tool to research, document, and interpret the continuity of traditional African American folklife practices. For details, see the NewsPage release.

Mississippi bluesman Bobby Rush to perform April 9
Mississippi bluesman Bobby Rush returns to ASU to Centennial Hall in the Student Union Friday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. Bobby Rush (born Emmit Ellis Jr.) is the son of a Baptist minister who was also a blues musician. Rush was born in Louisiana and moved to Pine Bluff at the age of eight. When Rush was 13, his family moved to Chicago, where Rush performed with such blues greats as Freddie King, Luther Johnson, Bobby King and Luther Allison. In 1983, he moved to Jackson, Miss., where he currently lives. Rush has recorded for several labels, including ABC Records, Jewel, Warner Brothers, Philadelphia International, and LaJam. Among the numerous awards and recognitions for his music are "Best Live Performer of the Year," "Best Blues Entertainer of the Year," and "Best Soul/Blues Albums of the Year." In 2000, the Mississippi Senate passed a resolution honoring Rush’s music. Rush also appeared in the documentary, “The Road to Memphis,” directed by Richard Pearce, and the documentary is part of Martin Scorsese’s seven-part film series, “The Blues.” When he is not performing at festivals and concerts, Rush and his wife work to raise money for research on sickle cell anemia. Additionally, they have opened their home as an emergency shelter to children leaving a local youth correctional facility. Rush is also involved in local Blues in the Schools programs. Visit Bobby Rush and hear the music at MySpace Music. For details, see the NewsPage release.

Documentary photo workshop offered April 9
Dr. Jack Zibluk, associate professor of journalism at ASU,  will offer a photography workshop, “Documenting Delta history and culture,” on Friday, April 9, at 8-9:45 a.m. as part of Delta Symposium XVI: Region and the Politics of Culture. The workshop will be held in the Pine Tree Room, Student Union. Dr. Zibluk will emphasize skills used by documentarians, but the workshop will also emphasize compositional techniques useful for anyone who wishes improve his or her photographic skills. Dr. Zibluk teaches photography, photojournalism, news design, desktop publishing, and news writing, and recently attended the Kalish Workshop. There is no charge for participating in the workshop. Pre-registration is required. For details, see the NewsPage release.

Jimmy 'Duck' Holmes offers Blues in the Schools April 9
Fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students at Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School will eJimmy 'Duck' Holmes outside his Blue Front Cafe in Bentonia, Miss. Photo courtesy of Broke and Hungry Records.xperience a special blues program on Friday, April 9, at 2 p.m. The program, in conjunction with Arkansas State University’s Delta Symposium XVI, will feature blues guitarist and vocalist Jimmy “Duck” Homes.  A native of Bentonia, Mississippi, Holmes plays in the distinctive style of local blues legends Skip James and Jack Owens, and he operates one of the oldest “juke joints” in the state, Bentonia’s Blue Front Cafe, the rural juke joint that Holmes and his family have operated since 1948. immy "Duck" Holmes burst onto the international blues scene in 2006 with his debut CD, “Back to Bentonia,” released on Broke and Hungry Records. Holmes was also featured in the award-winning film M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues. Holmes also works as an educator and will be joined for the Blues in the Schools presentation by Dr. Mike Luster of the Arkansas Folklife Program. Holmes will be in Jonesboro as a part of ASU-Jonesboro’s Delta Symposium XVI: Region and the Politics of Culture. While the Blues in the Schools program is not open to the public, Holmes will  make a public appearance on Saturday, April 10, in the afternoon at Bluegrass Morning/Blues Bash Afternoon. The program at Jonesboro Visual and Performing Arts Magnet School is part of an on-going effort to bring to bring blues, jazz, bluegrass, and other forms of vernacular music to Arkansas school children. The program is presented under the auspices of the Arkansas Folklife Program, with special support from ASU’s Office of Diversity and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information contact Dr. Mike Luster, Arkansas Folklife Program, or see the NewsPage release.

Bluegrass Morning/Blues Bash Afternoon finale is April 10
Radio station KASU’s Blue Monday and Bluegrass Monday events come together on Saturday, April 10 at Arkansas State University-Jonesboro’s 16th annual Delta Symposium. This special outdoor event, “Bluegrass Morning/Blues Bash Afternoon,” closes out the symposium and features bluegrass bands, blues acts, and an open mike-jam session that will showcase musicians from the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas. At 9:30 a.m., a pre-event jam session for bluegrass pickers will begin at Heritage Plaza, an outdoor area on the east side of ASU’s Student Union. The opening band begins at 10:30 a.m., and the music continues until 4 p.m. The ASU Student Union Auditorium will be available as a rain location. The Tennessee Boltsmokers and 2 Mule Plow will open up the show at 10:30 a.m. with sets of traditional and progressive bluegrass music. Both bands are known for their hard-driving bluegrass sound and for their intricate instrumentals and rich harmonies. The afternoon features Mississippi Delta bluesmen Bill Abel and ‘Cadillac’ John Nolden’s guitar and harmonica country blues act and closes with the deep Delta Blues of Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes. Bill Abel and ‘Cadillac’ John Nolden are country blues players from the Clarksdale, Miss. area. Abel is an excellent guitarist and vocalist, and ‘Cadillac’ John Nolden is a virJimmy 'Duck' Holmes in a photo courtesy of Jeff Konkel, Broke and Hungry Records.tuoso blues harmonica player. Jimmy ‘Duck’ Holmes owns and often performs in one of the oldest juke joints in the Delta -- the Blue Front in Bentonia, Miss. Holmes grew up in a sharecropper’s family, and his guitar style and vocals show the direct influence of early blues artists from the Bentonia area, including Jack Owens and Skip James. After the sets by the featured performers, the stage will be turned over to an open-mike performance supported by the Northeast Arkansas Delta Blues Society of Jonesboro and KASU 91.9 FM. Musicians attending the event will be welcome to perform onstage as solo acts or with back-up provided by symposium participants. For details, see the NewsPage release, or contact the Department of English and Philosophy at (870) 972-3043, visit the Delta Symposium Web site, or download a printable program. A plaintext version of the full program is also available. All symposium events are free and open to the public.

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