Delta Symposium

The Delta Symposium hosts scholars and students of the humanities and social sciences, and features multidisciplinary presentations on topics ranging from literature, music, and art to historical and contemporary issues relevant to life in the region. The event offers a variety of presentations, including panels, concerts, keynote speakers, readings/signings by prominent writers, and the Saturday afternoon Roots Music Festival.

Delta Symposium XXIII: Caring for Community
Call for Papers

The Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University opens a call for papers and presentations for the twenty-third annual Delta Symposium April 5-8, 2017. The Delta Symposium features scholarship on a wide variety of expressive forms that are resonant with Delta history and culture. Individual and panel presentations on topics relevant to the history and culture of the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas are welcome.

Special consideration will be given to proposals that specifically address this year's theme of “Caring for Community.” Participants are invited to explore how culture and history are integral to life in various communities in the region. In the past, communities were often defined primarily as a shared sense of geographic location. Although these types of community studies have important historical connections, current ideas about the nature of community life may be more relevant to the Delta’s contemporary culture. How are new communities formed from networks of people who share common practices and cultural traditions, including their use of social media? What happens when “community” is defined less by regional location and more by common interests and social concerns? What is at stake when people work to maintain their communities in the face of change and dislocation? Along with these interests, the theme also will allow participants to address ideas about social responsibility and community life, including the work of care-givers and those engaged with caring as a basis for ethical practice in their trades and professions.

The Delta Symposium presents work from multidisciplinary approaches including literary criticism, cultural studies, history, anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, sociology, speech communication, and heritage studies. Although proposals that have direct connections to Arkansas and the Delta are especially welcome, more general proposals that also address the theme and southern history and culture will be considered.

The Delta Symposium features research in the humanities and social sciences. The 2017 event also features a number of unique partnerships. A-STATE’s College of Media and Communication is contributing to the event by hosting the Delta Flix Film and Media Festival within the symposium. Filmmakers, photographers, and multimedia artists are invited to submit entries for screening at this event. Those submitting entries for the Delta Flix Film and Media Festival should contact the festival coordinator, Dr. Michael Bowman ( The event will conclude on Saturday with the Arkansas Roots Music Festival through continued support from KASU FM 91.9.

The 2017 event also includes a day of featured papers devoted to scholarship on Bob Dylan. These presentations will be showcased during special sessions scheduled for Saturday, April 8. Research that connects scholarship to Bob Dylan and the Delta are encouraged, but entries that look at Dylan’s artistry and life history using any relevant approach are welcome. For further information, contact the Delta Symposium committee chair or visit the Symposium Web site: The deadline for entries is December 16, 2016. Each entry should consist of the following:

Presenter’s name and affiliation and a 150-word abstract of the presentation as well as a current Vita (2 pages max). Please include your address, phone number, e-mail address, and the technical needs for your presentation

Delta Symposium Committee
c/o Dr. Gregory Hansen
Arkansas State University
Dept. of English and Philosophy
P.O. Box 1890
State University, AR 72467
Phone: 870-972-3043
Fax: 870-972-3045

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Schedule 2016

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all events will be held at Arkansas State's Carl R. Reng Student Union
April 13, 2016
1:00 - 2:15pm
History and Heritage Studies
Panel Session
Carmen Lanos Williams (Arkansas State University):
“I Always Knew My Place”: Arkansas’ Slavery and the Black Imaginary”
Dominique Hallett (Arkansas State University):
“Home Demonstration Clubs in Arkansas Through the 1940s: It is not just about Growing Tomatoes”
Lindsay Penn (Arkansas State University):
“Gone With the River: Forgotten Places Along the Lower Mississippi”
Scott Loyd (Arkansas State University):
“The Religious White and Black: The Divided Church of the Delta and Its Prophetic Legacy”
Moderated by Cherisse Jones-Branch
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
2:30 - 3:30pm
Mass Media and Representation
Panel Session
Maha Alshareef (Arkansas State University):
“Does Facebook Cripple Social Communication in The United States? An Examination of Young Adults at Arkansas State”
Michael Bowman (Arkansas State University):
“Hallelujah – ‘An Unusual Picture’”
Rodney Rice (Arkansas State University):
“So What are You Saying?: Nonverbal Communication in the Obama-Romney Debates”
Moderated by Lillie Fears
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
7:00 - 9:00pm
Evening Film -- "I'm Not There"
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
April 14, 2016
8:00 - 9:00am
History and Commemoration of Heritage
Panel Session
Revis Edmonds (Arkansas State University):
“‘The Forgotten Soldiers’: Remembering the African American Regiments at the Battle of Helena”
Danny Russell (Mississippi State University):
"‘A Sack of Rice With Your Shoes, Sir?’: Rice and the Culture of Western Poinsett County”
Moderated by Brady Banta
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
9:15 - 10:30pm
Picturing Heritage — Part One
Photographers’ Panel
Kimberly Blackburn (Arkansas State University)
Beverly Buys (Hot Springs)
Tom Moore (Arkansas State University)
Gabriel Tait (Arkansas State University)
Moderated by Edward Salo
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
10:45 - 12:00pm
Historic Preservation and Intangible Cultural Heritage
Panel Session
Edward Salo and Gregory Hansen (Arkansas State University):
“Historic Preservation and Cultural Conservation in Country Music”
David Rotenstein (Independent Scholar, Silver Spring, MD)
“(Re)-Imagining Decatur: Gentrification, Race, and History in a Southern Suburb”
Heath Garner (Master Falconer, Jonesboro, AR):
“Falconry as Intangible Cultural Heritage”
Moderated by Erik Gilbert
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
12:30 - 1:45pm
International Perspectives and Writing from the Region
Featured Panel
Coralie Bucaille (University of St. Etienne, France):
“Twain’s Strange Approach to French Culture: Lost in Translation”
Yona Dureau (University of St. Etienne, France):
“Mark Twain’s Reflections on the Middle East, After the Delta”
Wayne Narey (Arkansas State University):
“Samuel Clemens: Leaving the Delta Behind"
Moderated by Wayne Narey
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
Sponsored by A-State’s MBA Online Program
2:00 - 3:30pm
Family Life and Family History as Heritage
Panel Session
Lillie Fears (Arkansas State University):
“The Wonders of Grits”
Sarah Scott (Arkansas State University):
“Tale of Two Bells: Stories of Life, Lessons, and Pole-Vault from Earl and Grandpa Bell”
Sarah Scott (Arkansas State University):
"‘The Seed of the Flower’: A Family Legacy of American Music”
Moderated by Mary Donaghy
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
3:45 - 5:00pm
Musicians’ Life Histories and Musical Heritage
Panel Session
Mark Randall (The Evening Times, Marion, Arkansas):
"‘There's something really squirrely about you guys’: Johnny Cash at Sun”
Marvin Schwartz (Little Rock):
“Rockabilly’s Arkansas Roots 
Moderated by Marcus Tribbett
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
6:15 - 7:15pm
Museums and Cultural Heritage
Featuring Betty Belanus, James Deutsch, and Marjorie Hunt (Smithsonian Institution)
Moderated by Gregory Hansen
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
Supported by a grant from the American Folklore Society
7:30 - 8:30pm
The Grand Generation
Featured Film
Marjorie Hunt (Smithsonian Institution)
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Auditorium
April 15, 2016
8:00 - 9:30am
Representing New Orleans’s Cultural Heritage
Panel Session
Ryan Kerr (University of Arkansas):
"‘Frank’s Return’ to New Orleans as an Anti-Capitalist Narrative”
Robin Roberts (University of Arkansas):
“Foodways, Race, and Gender in Frank’s Place and Treme”
Yuewu Hou (University of Arkansas):
“New Orleans, Music, and Camera Works on Television: Treme”
Leslie Wade (University of Arkansas):
“Carnival Culture in Eureka Springs: Importing New Orleans to the Ozarks
Moderated by Robin Roberts
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
9:45 - 11:15am
Folk Arts and Folklife as Cultural Heritage
Panel Session
Teri Klassen (Mathers Museum of World Cultures, Indiana University):
“Improvisational Quiltmaking as a Cross-Racial-Group Phenomenon in the Tennessee Delta”
Terri Van Orman (Folklore Village, Dodgeville, WI):
“Folk from ‘Off’: The Role of Outsiders in the Preservation, Creation, and Perpetuation of Traditional Craft and Music in Stone County, Arkansas"
Jan Rosenberg (Heritage Education Resources, Inc., Bloomington):
“’When Praises Go Up, Blessings Come Down’: Diversity in the African American Gospel Tradition”
Moderated by Richard Burns
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
11:30 - 12:30pm
Keynote Presentation
Stephen A. King (Eastern Illinois University Charleston, IL):
“Another Trail, Another Tourism Tale: Mississippi Blues and Civil Rights”
Introduced by Brad Rawlins (Dean, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Arkansas State University)
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
1:00 - 2:15pm
Picturing Heritage — Part Two
Photographers’ Panel
R. S. Williams (LaGrange, Georgia):
"Talking with the Ghosts: Representing Cultural Heritage and Matching Text with Image"
John Zheng and Seprela Ellis (Itta Bena, MS):
“Rural Churches in the Mississippi Delta: Photographic Notes”
Jacques Moury Beauchamp (Tours, France):
“Let Me Hear That Delta Moan: An European Perspective on the Delta Blues”
Moderated by Michael Spikes
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
2:30 - 4:15pm
Music, Lyrics, Image, and Cultural Heritage
Panel Session
Mitsutoshi Inaba (Austin Peay State University):
“Dylan’s Approach to American Songbook in Christmas in the Heart”
John Kimsey (DePaul University):
“A New Song of the South? Brute Fact, Allegory and O Brother”
Andrew Scheiber (University of St. Thomas, Saint Paul, MN):
“Reaching for Roots, Finding Quicksand: The Cultural Locations of Jazz and Blues in the Fiction of Nella Larsen”
Moderated by Deborah Chappel Traylor
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
7:00 - 8:30pm
Talking Poetry and Music
Reading and Writers’ Roundtable

Rick Lott
Grace Pettis
Peirce Pettis
Sterling Plumpp
Michael Spikes
John Zheng

Moderated by Michael Spikes
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
7:30 - 9:00pm
Music, Poetry, Writing, and Verbal Arts
Readings and Song Evening
Chris Lawrence, Composer
“String Quartet No. 1”
World Premier
Student Readings
A-State Tributary magazine contributors

Featured Writers
Ann McCutchan (University of North Texas)
Writer in Residence
Sterling Plumpp (University of Illinois, emeritus)
Guest Poet
Introductions and Closing Remarks by Catherine Calloway

Song circle to follow
Open to musicians and listeners
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Auditorium
April 16, 2016
8:30 - 10:45am
Bob Dylan: An Anthology of Scholarship
Panel Session
Morgane Allain-Rousel (Jean Monnet University, Saint-Etienne, France.
University of St. Etienne, France):
“"Style matters: an overview of Bob Dylan's works in the lights of Nabokov's Lolita"
Cameron Artique (Phoenix, AZ):
“Visions of Johanna: New Research on Inspirations and Sources”
Jim Baird (University of North Texas, emeritus):
“Hide in Plain Sight: The Understandable Lyrics of Bob Dylan and their Philosophical Underpinnings”
Alan Brown (University of West Alabama):
“Death in the Air: Bob Dylan’s Murder Ballads”
Moderated by Michael Bowman
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
11:00 - 12:30pm
Bob Dylan: An Anthology of Scholarship — Part II
Panel Session
Nina Goss (University of Washington):
“Love and the Black Hat: The Long Work of Aging in the Self-Portraiture of Rembrandt van Rijn and Bob Dylan”
Frances Hunter (Arkansas State University):
“Prophets, Psalmists, and ‘Infidels’”
Samuel Jackson and Margaret Atkinson (Arkansas State University):
“Blues Theory or How to Play the Blues”
Moderated by Frances Hunter
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
12:00 - 6:00pm
Roots Music Festival
Master of Ceremonies, Michael Doyle (KASU)
City Water and Light Park
Culberhouse and Cherry Streets, Jonesboro

12:00 Zyndall Rainey Band

1:00 Runaway Planet

2:00 Last Chance Jug Band

3:00 The Salty Dogs

4:00 Lucious Spiller Blues Band
Rain location: Reng Student Center Auditorium (A-State Campus)

The Delta Symposium is made possible with support from KASU 91.9 FM, West End Neighborhood Association, and American Folklore Society.


Delta Symposium Committee
Dr. Gregory Hansen, Chairs
Arkansas State University
Dept. of English and Philosophy
P.O. Box 1890
State University, AR 72467
Phone: 870.972.3043
Fax: 870.972.3045

The Delta Symposium is made possible with support from: