The SouthTalks series continues the “Creativity in the South” programming focus this spring at the University of Mississippi, with lectures, performances and film screenings examining the interdisciplinary nature of Southern studies.
The series is sponsored by the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture. All events are free and open to the public and, unless otherwise noted, take place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory.
“We are looking forward to continuing our ‘Creativity in the South’ theme,” said Afton Thomas, associate director for programs.
“Our schedule of events include book talks on the ‘Tacky South’ and Appalachia; a film screening about Black inheritance and Gullah/Geechee culture in South Carolina; how the faith-healing leader Charles Manuel Grace adapted the ‘badman’ archetype of the blues to inform his ministry; a conversation between photographer Margo Cooper and father-son blues musicians Joe and Trent Ayers; and much more.”
The series opens Tuesday (Feb. 6) with filmmaker Yaphet Smith and independent arts administrator Annalise Flynn presenting “The Creative Legacy of the Unusual Artist Ms. L.V. Hull.” In their 4 p.m. session, they will discuss the role of storytelling, particularly the need for new narratives, in the various efforts to share Hull’s artful life.
These efforts include a documentary film; preserving her home, which was listed as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places by the National Trust in 2023; and repurposing structures on Hull’s street in Kosciusko to create the L.V. Hull Legacy Center, which will open in November in conjunction with an exhibit of her work at the Mississippi Museum of Art.
At noon Wednesday (Feb. 7), DeLisa Hawkes presents “Into the ‘Glades: Zora Neale Hurston and African American Indigenization.” Hawkes will discuss how Zora Neale Hurston presents African Americans’ indigenization within the United States through literary reflections on their relationships with the land and its peoples.
Hawkes is an assistant professor of Africana studies and an affiliate faculty of the Department of English and the Women, Gender and Sexuality Program at the University of Tennessee, specializing in 19th to 21st-century African American literature.
Katharine A. Burnett and Monica Carol Miller present “The Tacky South” at noon Feb. 14. They will highlight the essays featured in their collection, “The Tacky South,” which range from discussions of 19th-century local-color fiction and the television series “Murder, She Wrote” to red velvet cake and the ubiquitous influence of Dolly Parton.
At 5 p.m. Feb. 22 in the Barnard Observatory Gammill Gallery, Cuban American artist Ivette Spradlin gives a gallery talk about her photographs “The Warehouses,” about tenants of four warehouses, including punks and artists, in the West End of Atlanta, which is on display now through Feb. 23.
Black Southern multidisciplinary artists and UM alumnae Daniela Griffin, Princeton James and Zaire Love showcase their creativity at 4 p.m. March 2 in the exhibition “Our Turn.” Together, these three multidisciplinary artists reclaim their space in art creation and showcase their talent and creativity powered by the gift of Blackness nurtured in the South.
“The exhibition promises to be a captivating and immersive experience for witnesses,” said Love, Pihakis Documentary Filmmaker for the Southern Foodways Alliance.
A virtual SouthTalk is set for noon March 20 when Neema Avashia presents “Amplifying ‘Anotherness’: Disrupting Dominant Narratives about Appalachia.” She will explore what happens when writers publish and amplify narratives that complicate understanding of place and people, especially around Appalachia and the South. Register here for this session.
Xavier Sivels, a doctoral candidate in history at Mississippi State University and the 2023 Study the South Research Fellow, presents “‘Ain’t I Pretty?’: Sweet Daddy Grace and the Sacred Blues of the Badman” at noon March 27. Sivels will discuss how Charles Manuel Grace made a name for himself as the faith-healing leader of the United House of Prayer for All People.
At 5 p.m. April 9 in the Overby Center Auditorium, visiting documentarian Jon-Sesrie Goff presents “After Sherman.” Goff returns to the coastal South Carolina land that his family purchased after emancipation and explores his Gullah/Geechee roots, a journey that transformed into a poetic investigation of Black inheritance, trauma and generational wisdom amid the violent tensions that define America’s collective history.
Darren E. Grem, UM associate professor of history and Southern studies, presents “Good Night, New Deal: ‘The Waltons’ and the South’s Great Depression in American Memory” at noon April 10. This talk will consider what regional, racial and rural storylines “The Waltons” offered Americans reeling during the recessionary 1970s.
More broadly, Grem’s discussion will use the popular television show as a springboard for considering the memories and myths audiences allow to be aired when capitalism falters or fails, whether derived from the distant hard times of the 1930s or ’70s or the recent hard times of the Great Recession and COVID-crash.
In the “Deep Inside the Blues” SouthTalk at 5 p.m. April 16, photographer and author Margo Cooper will talk with blues musicians Joe Ayers and his son Trent Ayers. Cooper interviewed both Ayers for her book “Deep Inside the Blues.”
She describes Joe Ayers as kind, wise and passionate about playing guitar. Trent Ayers grew up listening to a variety of blues music with his father – tapes of Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Muddy Waters, R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough – and and they recently worked on an album together called “A Father Son Legacy.”
At noon April 24, Joseph M. Thompson, assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University, presents “Cold War Country: Music Row, the Pentagon and the Sound of American Patriotism.” Thompson explores how country music’s Nashville-based business leaders created partnerships with the Pentagon to sell their audiences on military service while selling country music to U.S. servicemembers and international audiences.
Phillip “Pip” Gordon, UM visiting assistant professor of gender studies in the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, discusses “Faulkner’s Enduring Queerness” at noon May 1. Gordon discusses Faulkner’s relevance to broadening fields of trans and ace studies and the value such approaches have to our understanding of Faulkner and the South.
The spring schedule concludes with the spring documentary showcase, which is a celebration of the work by Ole Miss Southern studies documentary students. It is slated for 6 p.m. May 3.