Weekly sessions starting today cover topics from state politics and civil rights struggles to gay truckers and jazz
Written by Rebecca Lauck Cleary
The Brown Bag Lunch and Lecture Series sponsored by the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture continues this spring with topics ranging from Brazilian dance to gay truck drivers.
Free and open to the public, the lectures take place at noon on select Wednesdays in the Barnard Observatory lecture hall unless otherwise noted.
“I love this semester’s list of presentations because the guests are so varied,” said Ted Ownby, the center’s director. “It starts with Mississippi Today journalists talking about the 2018 senate election and ends with jazz piano. In between, a good number of authors discuss their new books, with plenty of history, literature, politics, gender issues and religious studies.”
On Jan. 23, Adam Ganucheau and Ryan “R.L.” Nave discuss “Mississippi Today: Covering the Fall 2018 Senate Race.” Mississippi Today is a news and media company with a mission of civic engagement and public dialog through service journalism, live events and digital outreach.
A native of Hazlehurst, Ganucheau covers politics and state government for Mississippi Today, and he has worked as a staff reporter for the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson and the Birmingham News. He is a graduate of the UM School of Journalism and New Media and served as editor-in-chief of The Daily Mississippian.
Nave is editor-in-chief of Mississippi Today. Previously, he was an editor at the Jackson Free Press and has worked as a reporter in Seattle and Springfield, Illinois. He grew up in St. Louis and attended the University of Missouri.
On Jan. 30, Shennette M. Garrett-Scott, UM associate professor of history and African American studies, discusses ‘”I Am Yet Waitin’: Freedwomen and the Freedman’s Bank in Mississippi.” Her book will be published in spring 2019 on Columbia University Press.
Jaime Harker, UM professor of English and director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, delivers a Feb. 6 lecture on her new book “The Lesbian South: Southern Feminists, the Women in Print Movement and the Queer Literary Canon.”
Harker teaches American literature and gender studies. She has published essays on Japanese translation, popular women writers of the interwar period, Oprah’s book club, William Faulkner, Cold War gay literature, and women’s liberation and gay liberation literature.
On Feb. 13, Joshua Haynes discusses his book “Patrolling the Border: Theft and Violence on the Creek-Georgia Frontier, 1770-1796.” Haynes is an ethnohistorian at the University of Southern Mississippi. He researches, publishes and teaches early American and Native American history focusing on themes such as colonialism, violence and state formation.
On Feb. 20, Charles McKinney and Aram Goudsouzian discuss their edited book “An Unseen Light: Black Struggles for Freedom in Memphis, Tennessee.” McKinney is Neville Frierson Bryan Chair of Africana Studies and an associate professor of history at Rhodes College. Besides “An Unseen Light,” he is the author of “Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina.”
Goudsouzian is chair of the history department at the University of Memphis.
For a special Monday lecture on Feb. 25, Matt Eich and Ralph Eubanks examine “Sin and Salvation in Baptist Town,” the book where Eich documents life in one of Greenwood’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, where the legacies of racism continue to impact the people economically and culturally.
“Sin and Salvation” is the culmination of seven years of photographic work and engagement with the residents of the Baptist Town neighborhood. Eubanks is a visiting professor of Southern studies and English at Ole Miss.
Ansley L. Quiros delivers a Feb. 27 lecture on her new book, “God with Us: Lived Theology and the Freedom Struggle in Americus, Georgia, 1942-1976.” Quiros is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Alabama, specializing in U.S. history, African-American history, the history of immigration, and the history of race and religion. The Atlanta native is a graduate of Furman University and Vanderbilt University.
Another special Monday lecture is set for 4 p.m. March 18 with award-winning author Anne Balay, as she discusses “Semi Queer: Inside the World of Gay, Trans and Black Truck Drivers.” This event is co-sponsored by the center, the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies, and the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History as part of Women’s History Month.
Balay’s book sheds new light on the harsh realities of truckers’ lives behind the wheel. A licensed commercial truck driver herself, Balay discovers that, for people routinely subjected to prejudice, hatred and violence in their hometowns and in the job market, trucking can provide an opportunity for safety, welcome isolation and a chance to be themselves – even as the low-wage work is fraught with tightening regulations, constant surveillance, danger and exploitation.
Winner of the Lambda Literary Emerging Writers Award, Balay teaches in gender and sexuality studies at Haverford College.
On March 20, Muhammad Fraser-Rahim lectures on “Spiritual Wayfarers, Enslaved and Indigenous Muslims: Past, Present and Future of American Muslims.” He will navigate through the past, present and future state of American Muslims and place special emphasis on the rich legacy of American Muslims in the South who were part of the original Muslim community in America.
Fraser-Rahim is an assistant professor in the Department of Intelligence and Security Studies at the Citadel and executive director for North America for Quilliam International, the world’s oldest counter-extremist organization. He served for more than a decade in the U.S. government, writing strategic analytical products for the White House and National Security Council. The native of Charleston, South Carolina, holds a doctorate from Howard University.
Another special event is set for 3 p.m. March 27 at the Overby Center Auditorium. During the 26th Oxford Conference for the Book, photographer-filmmaker-geographer David Zurick will present an illustrated talk based on his new book “A Fantastic State of Ruin: The Painted Towns of Rajasthan.”
Zurick earned a doctorate in geography from the University of Hawaii and the East-West Center in Honolulu. His books and photography have won numerous awards, including the National Outdoor Book Award and Kentucky Arts Council Al Smith Visual Artist Fellowship Award (twice). In 2009, he received the Mount Everest Award for his lifetime achievement in Himalaya studies.
On April 3, Joye Hardiman presents “A Soul Comes Home to Her Mississippi Roots.” Hardiman is an educational architect, cultural custodian, world traveler and ancestral storyteller and is interim director of the Washington Center for Improvement in Higher Education.
“A Soul Comes Home to Her Mississippi Roots,” documents her first return trip to Mississippi. Her family left shortly after Emmett Till’s murder. She will place this trip within the broader context of displaced African-Americans reconnecting with their roots in the U.S. South.
On April 10, Jerusa Leão presents “Saravah! A Trip to the World of Samba de Roda from Bahia.” Samba de Roda, which involves music, dance and poetry, is a popular festive event that took place in the State of Bahia, in the region of the Recôncavo and Sertão in the 17th century.
The dance is performed on several occasions, such as popular festivities or Afro-Brazilian religious ceremonies, but also performed in more spontaneous contexts. Leão is a Brazilian artist, singer, songwriter and instrumentalist.
On April 17, Angie Maxwell lectures on “The Long Southern Strategy: How Chasing Voters in the White South Changed American Politics.” Maxwell is director of the Diane Blair Center of Southern Politics and Society and the Diane D. Blair Associate Professor of Southern Studies in the political science department at the University of Arkansas.
She received her doctorate in American studies from the University of Texas and is the co-chair of the Politics and Policy Caucus of the American Studies Association.
To conclude the series on April 24, Mark Yacovone gives attendees “Jazz at Noon” by playing jazz standards and jazz interpretations of several songs. Yacovone, originally from Providence, Rhode Island, makes his home in Oxford, where he holds a key position in the Yalobushwhackers, the house band for Mississippi Public Radio’s weekly, live and unrehearsed “Thacker Mountain Radio” show.
Yacovone studied jazz under three-time Latin Grammy nominee Gustavo Casenave and has shared the stage and/or the studio with musical greats including Mojo Nixon, Jody Williams, Buddy Cage, Maria Muldaur, Jeff Daniels, Charlie Musselwhite and Jack Sonni.