English department brings Ozarks culture to UMR

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On October 15, 2003

Old-time fiddle music and lectures on such topics as historic tourism in the Ozarks and gender issues in Ozarks literature are among the events planned in coming months to promote Ozarks culture at the University of Missouri-Rolla.

Dr. Kate Drowne, assistant professor of English at UMR and director of UMR’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program, recently received a $25,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to promote American studies specifically topics relating to Ozarks culture. The grant will bring eight scholars to campus over the next three semesters to give presentations on various elements of Ozarks literature, history and culture.

"This grant will allow us to expose members of the UMR community, as well as the Rolla community, to some important ideas and issues related specifically to the Ozarks region," Drowne says, "and may help open some people’s eyes to the very interesting and important contributions the region has made to our nation’s history and culture."

The first event in the series will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 22, when guitarist and music historian Gordon McCann, along with fiddlers Lacey Hartje and H.K. Silvey, will give a concert and presentation on traditional Ozarks fiddle music. The presentation will be held at noon in Room 204 McNutt Hall. It is free and open to the public.

In November, Dr. Gary Kremer, a historian from William Woods University, will present a talk, "African American Life and Culture in the Missouri Ozarks," which will explore why African Americans migrated to the area, the lives they shaped while they were there, and the reasons they left.

The winter 2004 semester will feature three speakers:

Dr. Ann Goodwyn Jones from the University of Florida will present a lecture on gender issues in southern and Ozarks literature (Jones also is the 2004 Maxwell C. Weiner Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the UMR English department).

Lynn Morrow, the director of the Local Records Program at the Missouri State Archives in Jefferson City, Mo., and a scholar of Ozark public history, will speak about historic tourism and the Ozarks, bringing together the interrelated themes of transportation, conservation, literacy, mass media, urban-rural conflict and the bureaucratization of natural resources.

Dr. Brooks Blevins, a historian from Lyon College in Batesville, Ark., will speak about the stereotypes and images typically associated with the Ozarks, and the long-lasting effects these stereotypes have had on this region’s broader history.

The fall 2004 semester will bring three more lectures:

Dr. Elaine Lawless, a professor of English from the University of Missouri-Columbia, will speak about domestic violence, addressing many of the difficulties women in the Ozarks face in terms of independence, battering and religious beliefs that condone (or at least do not prevent) violence against women.

Dr. J. Sandy Rikoon, professor of rural sociology from UMC, will talk about the social construction of nature and environmental conflict in the Ozarks, and will explain the current debates about the need for and the processes by which the ecology of the Ozarks might better be preserved.

Dr. Gerald Early, professor of African and Afro-American Studies at Washington University, will present a topic to be determined.

In addition to bringing the Ozarks culture to the university, the grant provides the opportunity for UMR faculty members to work that culture into the curriculum. Ten UMR humanities and social sciences faculty members will work closely with each visiting scholar to learn how they might incorporate more elements of Ozarks culture into their classrooms.

In addition to Drowne, participating UMR faculty members include Dr. Larry Vonalt, associate professor and chair of English; Jack Morgan, instructor of English; Dr. Trent Watts, assistant professor of English; Dr. Larry Gragg, professor and chair of history; Dr. Michael Meagher, associate professor of history; Dr. Patrick Huber, assistant professor of history; Dr. Jeff Schramm, assistant professor of history; Dr. James J. Bogan Jr., Distinguished Teaching Professor of Art History and Film; and Dr. Richard Miller, chair and professor of philosophy.

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On October 15, 2003. Posted in News