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 XXI: The South Goes to the Movies

The Department of English and Philosophy at Arkansas State University opens a call for papers and presentations for the twenty-first annual Delta Symposium April 8 – 11, 2015. Individual presentations on topics relevant to the history and culture of Arkansas and the Mississippi Deltas are welcome. The Delta Symposium features scholarship on blues and other musical expressions, and the symposium's focus also includes a wide variety of expressive forms that are resonant with Delta history and culture.

Special consideration will be given to proposals that specifically address this year's theme “The South Goes to the Movies.” Participants are invited to explore how America’s South is represented in film and video. The committee is interested treatments of southern history and culture in film as well as influences of movies on southern communities. Projects that look at movies that have direct connections to Arkansas and the Delta are especially welcome.

The Delta Symposium features research in the humanities and social sciences at the conference, but the 2015 event features a number of unique partnerships. ASTATE’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.

Another new event planned for the 2015 event is a day of featured papers devoted to scholarship on Bob Dylan. These presentations will be showcased during special sessions scheduled for Saturday, April 11. Research that connects scholarship to Bob Dylan and the Delta Symposium’s theme 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 the Symposium Web site: http:/ / or visit us on Facebook under "Delta Symposium." Deadline for entries is December 4, 2014, and each entry should consist of the following:



Note: Unless otherwise notated, all events will be held at Arkansas State's Carl R. Reng Student Union
April 2, 2014

12:00 - 1:30pm

  • A forum coordinated by Niya Blair (Arkansas State University) Director, Multicultural Center

2:00 - 4:15pm

  • Michael Doyle, KASU – Arkansas State University
    "Kenni Huskey: A Child Country Star and Her Promoter Dad – He's Still Her Biggest Fan"
  • Mark Randall, Arkansas State University
    "A Damn Good Rocker: Billy Riley and the Sun Sound"
  • Danny Koop, Arkansas State University
    "A Hard Day's Night: The Day the Beatles Landed in Walnut Ridge"
  • Michael Bowman, Arkansas State University
    "The British Invasion of Walnut Ridge:  How the Fab Four is Transforming a Small Southern Town"

4:30 - 5:45pm

Diverse Legends and their Contributions to Arkansas State University
  • Presented by Arkansas State University students and staff
  • Amelia Young and Brooks Cockrell, “Coach Larry Lacewell”
  • Mildron Tate, “Joel Gambill”
  • Teresa Lee, “Teresa Lee”
  • Jody Cason, Johnathan Reaves, and Zhoucheng Shigong, “Ruth Hawkins”
  • Coordinated and Moderated by Lillie Fears

7:30 - 9:30pm

Blues and Roots Music Showcase Performances
  • The Arts @ 311
    Coordinated by Paul Nunis

April 3, 2014

8:00 - 9:00am

Arkansas’ Diversity in Songs, Buildings, and Food

  • Revis Edmonds, Arkansas State University
    “The Kream Kastle and its Place in Blytheville’s ‘Barbecue Mecca’”
  • Jeffrey Lewellen, Arkansas History Commission
    “Levon Helm: The Ties That Bind.”

9:15 - 11:00am

Diversity and Southern Writing

  • Claudia I. H. Drieling, North Carolina A&T State University
    “Culinary Deep Talk: Diversity and Resistance in 19th Century Cookbooks and Linden Hills”
  • Jason Barrett-Fox, Arkansas State University
    “Dis(re)membering Bodies: Mapping Regional Rhetorics, Disability, Education, Gender, and Sexuality in the Bodyspaces of Flannery O’Connor’s ‘Good Country People’”
  • Adam Long, Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Education Center
    “Faulkner’s Revision of the Arkansas Southwest Humor Tradition”
  • C. D. Mitchell “Why I write Southern Sacrilege: Reflections on Flannery "
  • O’Connor’s “The Church and the Fiction Writer” and Lessons to be Learned by all Writers Who Confront the Diverse Religious Landscape of the South”

12:00 - 1:45pm

Reflections and Representations of Diversity in Arkansas

  • Kwadjo Boaitey, Five Smooth Stones Working Group
    “The Role of Historic Resources in Community Building: The Pettaway Community of Little Rock”
  • Guy Lancaster, Encyclopedia of Arkansas
    “Expanding the Definition of Diversity with the Encyclopedia of Arkansas”
  • Lisa K. Speer, Arkansas History Commission
    “Documenting Diversity ‘Down South’: An Analysis of Ethnic and Minority Archival Collections in the Delta and American South”

2:30 - 3:45pm

Diversities in Southern Regions

  • James Baird, “Another Memphis Willie B”
  • Amy Ouchley, “Swamp Rabbit Habitat: An Introduction to the Ecology of the Bottomland Hardwood Forest”
  • Kelby Ouchley, “Alligators & Yankees – Northern Attitudes on Southern Biodiversity in the American Civil War”
  • Susan Probasco, “An Afternoon at Maple Hill: 100 Years Later“

4:00 - 5:15pm

Keynote Speaker
  • Adam Gussow, University of Mississippi
  • “I Got a Big White Fella From Memphis Made a Deal With Me":  Black Men, White Boys, and the Anxieties of Blues Postmodernity in Walte Hill's Crossroads”
  • Introduced by Janelle Collins

5:00 - 6:30pm

Tributary Preview

7:00 - 8:30pm

April 4, 2014

9:15 - 10:30am

Talking about Delta Memoirs and Memoir Writing

  • Janis Kearney
  • Sheilah Hamilton Pantin

10:45 - 11:45pm

Teach for America in the Delta
  • Kyle James, Helena-West Helena Public School District
  • Victor Sellarole, Helena-West Helena Public School District
  • Jessica Rossoni, Helena-West Helena Public School District

12:00 - 1:00pm

The Beautiful Music All Around Us

  • Lecture and Performance by Stephen Wade

1:15 - 3:30pm

Diversities within Blues Music
  • Alan Brown, University of West Alabama
    “R.L. Burnside: Breaking Down the Barriers”
  • Mitsutoshi Inaba, Eugene, Oregon
    “’Aishiatte Irukai? (We All Love Each Other, Don't We?)’–– What Otis Redding Taught Kiyoshiro Imawano (1951-2009): A Bridge between the Delta and Japan, Part II”
  • Andrew Scheiber, University of St. Thomas
    “’I Don’t Worry ‘Bout a Thing (‘Cause I Know Nothing Is Gonna Be All Right)’: Locating Mose Allison within the Blues Tradition”
  • Liz Wilkinson, University of St. Thomas
    “Red ‘n Blue: Native Americans and Blues Music”

1:00 - 2:30pm

Memoir Writing

  • Master Class with Janis Kearney
  • Preregistration required

3:45 - 4:45pm

Judy Peiser, Center for Southern Folklore

  • Screening of “All Day And All Night: Memories of Beale Street Musicians”
  • Discussant: David Evans (University of Memphis)

5:00 - 6:00pm


  • Yusef Komunyakaa
April 5, 2014

9:00 - 12:00am

Creative Writing Workshop with C. D. Mitchell

  • Pre-registration required
  • Coordinated by Jason Barrett-Fox

10:00 - 11:30pm

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)

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 Acoustic Blues Showcase
  • 1:00 United Voices Gospel Choir
  • 1:30 Delta Symposium 20th Anniversary Showcase Performances * Blues Doctors * David Evans * Wilkinson James * Stephen Wade * Mitsutoshi Inaba and the Delta Symposium Band
  • 4:00 Justin Heskett Band
  • 5:00 John Hammond


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: