“Representing Cultural Heritage” is the theme for this year’s Delta Symposium at Arkansas State University. Participants will explore how the region’s historical and cultural resources are identified and presented as heritage. The 22nd annual conference brings scholars, students, musicians and artists from across the nation to explore and experience the Delta’s history and culture.
The event is sponsored by A-State’s Department of English, Philosophy and World Languages with additional on-campus support, including a grant from the American Folklore Society. It will take place Wednesday through Saturday, April 13-16. Most events will take place in the Mockingbird Room on the third floor of the Reng Student Union (GPS: 101 North Caraway Road).
Wednesday, April 13
The symposium will commence at 1 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, with a panel on "History and Heritage Studies." Various media and panel presentations will continue throughout the afternoon as will screenings of films that will be coordinated in conjunction with the Delta Flix Film and Media Festival.
Student productions will be shown at the event as filmmakers will introduce their films and answer questions about their creative projects. Wednesday’s events conclude with a special screening of the feature film “I’m Not There” in the Mockingbird Room. The film is especially relevant as it sets the stage for Saturday’s “Dylan Day” activities.
Thursday, April 14
Thursday's events begin at 8 a.m. in the Mockingbird Room. Sessions will feature researchers and writers from across the nation. Panelists will include historians, literary scholars, folklorists, filmmakers and photographers who will explore topics ranging from African-American regiments in the Civil War Battle of Helena to falconry as aspect of intangible cultural heritage.
This year’s symposium has a marked international flavor as it features a panel that includes professor Yona Durea of the University of St. Etienne, France. She’ll explore Mark Twain’s reflections on the Middle East, and the panel will explore topics as diverse as Mark Twain’s impressions of French culture and the writer’s abandonment of the region. This panel is sponsored by A-State's MBA online program.
The day's final event is a 7:30 p.m. screening of the acclaimed documentary film “The Grand Generation.” Dr. Marjorie Hunt, who co-produced the film, will introduce it and discuss how it explores the place of elderly people as they contribute to the legacy of memory in their communities.
Friday, April 15
Friday’s events will also begin at 8 a.m. with additional panels and media sessions. The keynote address by Dr. Stephen A. King will take place at 11:30. The communications professor and chair of speech communication at Eastern Illinois University will discuss connections between blues and Civil Rights in Mississippi.
The day’s activities will conclude with an evening of music, poetry, writing and verbal arts. Composer Chris Lawrence will offer the world premiere of his “String Quartet No. 1” to open the event at 7 p.m. in the Student Union auditorium.
A-State students will read from their contributions to the university’s “Tributary” literary magazine. Featured writers Ann McCutchan of the University of North Texas and Sterling Plumpp, the noted blues poet, will share readings from their work before the event concludes with an open-mic song circle open to the public.
Saturday, April 16
Saturday's events will begin at 8:30 a.m. with special presentations on Bob Dylan. Nationally known speakers and scholars will present their research on the music and life of Dylan. The event is organized by Dr. Frances Hunter and will serve as a capstone for a long-term project that is culminating in a new anthology of Dylan scholarship titled “Professing Dylan.”
On Saturday afternoon, the symposium will conclude with the "Arkansas Roots Music Festival." This outdoor event will feature roots music in a range of genres at Jonesboro's City Water and Light Park. The event begins at 12 and runs until 5 p.m.
A range of musicians will take the stage, including the Zyndall Rainey Band, Runaway Planet, Last Chance Jug Band, the Salty Dogs and the Lucious Spiller Blues Band. Sponsors are KASU-FM, West End Neighborhood Association and Delta Flix. In case of rain, Saturday's events will be moved to the Student Union auditorium.
For more details, one may contact the Department of English, Philosophy and World Languages at (870) 972-3043 or visit the Web site http://altweb.astate.edu/blues/.