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The Delta's Unique Southernness Is Focus of June 29 Seminar
For release: May 25, 2006
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People in the Mississippi Delta, that flat, fertile crescent that spreads as far as the eye can see over parts of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Louisiana, often say that Memphis is the cultural capital of the region. If that is true, then the University of Memphis is reinforcing that claim when it sponsors the first ever seminar about “The Delta: Everything Southern” on June 29.

The seminar will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Fogelman Executive Center on the U of M campus. It will include a keynote address by a well-known and well-respected scholar of the history of the Delta, talks by other experts on the music, the culture, the demographic diversity, the landscape, and the “feel” of the Delta. A panel discussion and audience question-and-answer session will conclude the event.

Registration is limited to 100 persons; registration deadline is June 23. The registration fee is $50 ($25 for students). Registration information is available from the event's Web site: exlibris.memphis.edu/delta.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. James Cobb, University of Georgia professor and author of The Most Southern Place on Earth: The Mississippi Delta. Cobb will discuss how the Delta, often considered isolated and removed from societal changes, actually reflects changes in the nation as a whole.

Other presenters will include Maude Schuyler Clay, a Delta resident who has captured her native landscape in critically acclaimed photographs; Unita Blackwell, the Delta sharecropper's daughter who became the Delta's – and Mississippi's – first black mayor; William Bearden, Rolling Fork, Miss., native and current Memphian whose books and documentary films focus on the history, culture, and mores of the Delta and the Mid-South; and University of Memphis music professor David Evans, an authority on the Delta's most famous export (other than cotton) – the blues.

Also speaking will be Howard Stovall, scion of a farming family whose ancestors first cleared virgin timber for their fields in the 1840s and now an authority on southern culture; and Paul Canonici, retired priest from Madison, Miss., just north of Jackson, biographer of the region's Italian settlers.

The speakers will address such topics as change in the Delta, the role music plays in the culture of the region, and the great diversity of populations in the Delta, a facet sometimes overshadowed by the historically great division between blacks and whites.

For more information, contact Tom Mendina by phone at 901-678-4310 or via email at tmendina@memphis.edu, Dr. Nicholas Gotten by phone at 901-682-9955 or via email at ngotten@aol.com, or Willy Bearden by phone at 901-522-9313 or via email at willyb@aol.com.

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