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 XXII: Representing Cultural Heritage
Call for Papers

The Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University opens a call for papers and presentations for the twenty-second annual Delta Symposium April 13 – 16, 2016. Individual presentations on topics relevant to the history and culture of the Arkansas and Mississippi Deltas are welcome. The Delta Symposium features scholarship on a wide variety of expressive forms that are resonant with Delta history and culture.

Participants are invited to explore how historical and cultural resources are identified and represented as heritage in both academic scholarship and public presentations. Special consideration will be given to proposals that specifically address this year's theme “Representing Cultural Heritage.” The Delta Symposium presents work from multidisciplinary approaches including literary criticism, cultural studies, history, anthropology, folklore, ethnomusicology, sociology, speech communication, and heritage studies. We are also interested in presentations by educators and museum staff from within the region. Proposals that have direct connections to Arkansas and the Delta are especially welcome, but more general proposals that also address the theme will be considered.

The Delta Symposium features research in the humanities and social sciences at the conference, but the 2016 event features a number of unique partnerships. A-STATE’s College of Media and Communication is contributing to the event by hosting the Delta Film Festival within the symposium. Filmmakers and video artists are invited to submit entries for screening during the event. Filmmakers who are submitting entries for the Delta Film Festival should contact the film festival coordinator, Dr. Michael Bowman (, for information on submitting proposals. The event will also feature the Saturday afternoon Roots Music Festival with continued support from KASU FM 91.9.

The 2016 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 16. 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 members or visit us on Facebook under "Delta Symposium." The deadline for entries is December 11, 2015. Each entry should consist of the following:

Presenter’s name and affiliation
Contact information, including:

A 150-word abstract of the presentation

Schedule 2015

Note: Unless otherwise noted, all events will be held at Arkansas State's Carl R. Reng Student Union
April 8, 2015
12:00 - 4:15pm
4:30 - 5:30pm
The South and The Movies
A Conversation on Images and Diversity
Arkansas State University’s Multicultural Center
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
6:45 - 7:30pm
Poetry and Creative Writing
Student Readings
Tributary magazine contributors
Introductions and Closing Remarks by Catherine Calloway
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
7:30 - 9:30pm
Featured Film -- "Face in the Crowd"
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Auditorium
April 9, 2015
8:00 - 10:30am
Movies and Delta Life
Richard Hartness (Arkansas State University):
“Working for “The Imperial”: Wynne (1959)
James Deutsch (Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage):
“You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby Doll: Sin and Cinema in the Mississippi Delta”
Wayne Narey (Arkansas State University):
“Faulkner’s The Reivers: Hollywood’s Coming of Age”
Mark Randall (The Evening Times, Marion, Arkansas):
“Your Monster of Ceremonies: The Story of Sivad and Fantastic Features”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
10:45 - 12:00pm
Music and the Delta
Marvin Schwartz (Little Rock)
“Roots, Rock-a-billy, and Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Mark Randall (The Evening Times, Marion, Arkansas):
“Rockabilly Cat with a Country Heart: The Life and Music of Memphis Legend Eddie Bond”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
12:45 - 2:30pm
Mediated Imagery and New Orleans
Brooke Bennett (University of Arkansas):
“Visual Pleasure and John Biguenet’s ‘A Work of Art’ in New Orleans"
Kelsey Berkel (University of Arkansas):
“Power in Ambiguity: New Orleans as Place, Backdrop, and Character in The Simpsons”
Meredith Palmer (University of Arkansas):
“Decomposition of Humanity in 1 Dead in Attic”
Lauren Boatright (University of Arkansas):
“How The Krewe of Orpheus’s Music Represents New Orleans”
Robin Roberts (University of Arkansas):
“New Orleans and Live Performance in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
2:30 - 4:15pm
Keynote Presentation
Beth Harrington
“The Winding Stream”
Documentary Film on the Carter Family and Johnny Cash
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Auditorium
4:15 - 5:45pm
Representation of Delta History and Heritage
Panel and Forum
“The Mississippi River and Great River Road: Riverbed and Roadway of Song and Struggle through Memphis and the St. Francis River Basis”
Peggy R. Wright (Arkansas State University):
“A New Arkansas Delta Civil Rights Movement Geography”
Cliff E. Jones (Arkansas State University/Mid-South Community College and the Arkansas Blues Project):
“Musical Genres in the Arkansas Delta”
The Honorable Judge [retired] Olly Neal:
“The Lee County Cooperative Clinic – Civil Rights and Community Economic Development Leadership and Services in the Arkansas Delta.”
Organized and moderated by Peggy R. Wright
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
5:45 - 6:45pm
Reception and Hors D'Oeuvres
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
April 10, 2015
8:00 - 8:50am
Documenting and Teaching about Delta Traditions
Gabriel Tait (Arkansas State University):
“The Spirit of Worship: Exploring Black Gospel Music in the Delta”
Jan Rosenberg (Heritage Education Resources, Bloomington, Indiana):
“Discovering Our Delta”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
9:00 - 10:00am
A Native American Filmmaker and the South
Jacob Floyd (Oklahoma State University):
“Cultural Transmissions of Place in Music and the Missing Native Body in Film: The Two Soundtracks of Sterlin Harjo’s This May Be the Last Time”
Elizabeth L. Wilkinson (University of St. Thomas):
“American Music’s Native Roots: Creek and Seminole Songs on the Arkansas Trail of Tears”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
10:15 - 11:15am
Teach for America in the Delta
Student Media Production
Coordinated by Kyle James (Helena-West Helena Public School District)
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
11:30 - 12:00pm
Mary Wheeler: Rediscovering Roustabout Music of the Packet Boat Era
Multimedia Presentation and Performance
Nathan Blake Lynn (McCracken County Public Library, Paducah, Kentucky)
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
12:30 - 2:15pm
Delta Culture in Film
Jim Baird (University of North Texas):
"Jean Renoir and Sharecroppers: An Unlikely but Productive Pairing"
Alan Brown (University of West Alabama):
“Baby Doll: Tennessee Williams’ Southern Gothic Nightmare”
Lillie M. Fears (Arkansas State University):
“Picturing Faith: An Examination of Films Depicting Church and Religion in the Delta”
John Kimsey (DePaul University)
“A New Song of the South? Brute Fact, Allegory and O Brother”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
2:30 - 4:15pm
Delta History – Musical History
Mark Allan Jackson (Middle Tennessee State University):
“How the ‘Boston Burglar’ ended up in Southern Prison Blues”
Stephen Koch (Arkansongs, Little Rock):
“Louis Jordan on Film: Cross Over Jordan”
Andrew Scheiber (University of St. Thomas):
“Who’s Your (Good) Daddy? The Bluesman as Healing Father Figure in Blacksnake Moan”
Michael Honey (University of Washington, Tacoma)
“Sharecroppers’ Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers’ Union, and the African-American Song Tradition”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
4:30 - 6:00pm
Biographical Writing on Delta Musicians
Book Talks and Writers’ Roundtable
Michael Honey on John Handcox
Stephen Koch on Louis Jordan
Marvin Schwarz on Sonny Burgess and the Pacers
Moderated by Debbie Chappel-Traylor
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
7:30 - 9:00pm
Evening Concert Performance
John McCutcheon
Presented in partnership with A-State’s Lecture/Concert Series
Fowler Center Auditorium
April 11, 2015
8:30 - 10:45am
Bob Dylan: An Anthology of Scholarship
David Gaines (Southwestern University, Georgetown, Texas):
“Dylan Days”
Nina Goss (Fordham University):
“The Unknown World Is So Near: Making History with Bob Dylan”
Michael L. Perlin (New York Law School, New York):
"Tangled Up in Law: The Jurisprudence of Bob Dylan”
J.A. Wainwright (Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia):
“’I Been Wishing I Was Somebody Else Instead’: Audience and Self in Like a Rolling Stone”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
11:00 - 1:00pm
Bob Dylan: An Anthology of Scholarship, Continued
Jim Baird (University of North Texas):
“Bob Dylan: Jackass”
Jim Cody (Brookdale Community College, Lindcroft, New Jersey):
“Dylan’s Rhymes”
Frances Hunter (Arkansas State University):
"The Cinema in the 'Tempest'"
Alex Lubet (University of Minnesota):
“A Case of the Blues: Music, Blindness, and Citizenship”
A-State Carl R. Reng Student Union, Mockingbird Room
10:00 - 11:30am
Architectural Walking Tour of Jonesboro's West End
Sponsored by the Northeast Arkansas AIA
Led by Jonesboro Design Professionals
Libii Fairhead (Brackett and Krennerich)
Jim Little (Little and Associates)
John Mixon (Stuck Associates)
Meet at the Craighead County Courthouse
12:00 - 6:00pm
Roots Music Festival
Master of Ceremonies, Michael Luster (Arkansas Folklife Program)
City Water and Light Park
Culberhouse and Cherry Streets, Jonesboro
  • 12:00 -- Music Showcase
    Music Showcase
    Bucksnort Hill Bluegrass Band
    Zeke Johnson
    Nathan Blake Lynn
    Wilkinson James
  • 2:00 -- Black Oak Arkansas
  • 3:00 -- Lucious Spiller
  • 4:00 -- Jesse Charles Hammock

The Delta Symposium is made possible with support from KASU 91.9 FM, National Endowment for the Arts, West End Neighborhood Association, and A-State’s Lecture/Concert Series.


Delta Symposium Committee
c/o Dr. Lauri Umansky and
Dr. Gregory Hansen, Co-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: