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AUM conference examines life in the South
by Paul Sullivan, Montgomery Advertiser | Jan 25, 2016
A February Auburn University Montgomery conference focusing on the South will offer insight into the region’s culture, history, art, music, and journalism.
AUM history professor Ben H. Severance said the public is welcomed and can register at the student rate either by mail or during the conference, which is set for Feb. 5-6 on the east Montgomery campus.
The speakers and presenters are established scholars who are experts on the South, and who have published in their fields of interest.
There will be eighteen panel presentations during seven sessions over the course of two days. The panels cover specific themes such as southern society during the Civil War, southern food, the legacy of slavery in politics and culture, southern photography, African-American literature, music, folklore and other topics.
The conference also will offer two distinguished speakers, and include a reading session of poetry and prose from local writers, and display a gallery exhibition.
As a Civil War historian, Severance said he is especially excited about both the Civil War panel and Dr. Ken Noe's keynote on weather during the Civil War. He believes hosting the gathering is a boost to AUM as well.
“It is my hope that this conference becomes one of the signal events for AUM. Right now, I think it gives the university increased regional appeal and attention, but it might one day enjoy national recognition,” Severance said.
He said in addition to the public, five to six dozen professional scholars attend each year with most of them coming from Alabama and the surrounding states. But some have traveled to the River Region from across the country and even from Europe on occasion, he added. “This year, we've got some presenters coming from as far away as the Northeast and Midwest,” Severance said.
On Feb. 5, Trudier Harris, a professor of English from the University of Alabama, will present “Meditations on Horror, History, Black Lives, and Literature.”
She is one of the foremost scholars on African-American life and culture, from slavery to the present, Severance said. Among her many publications are “The Scary Mason-Dixon Line: African-American Writers and the South,” Louisiana State University Press, 2009, and most recently “Martin Luther King, Jr., Heroism, and African-American Literature,” University of Alabama Press, 2014.
On Feb. 6, Kenneth W. Noe, Draughon Professor of Southern History at Auburn University, will present “A Cloud over the Land: Weather, Climate, and the American Civil War.”
He is a nationally-recognized authority on the American Civil War, as well as the nineteenth-century American South. His books include “Reluctant Rebels: The Confederates Who Joined the Army after 1861,” University of North Carolina Press, 2010, and he most recently edited “The Yellowhammer War: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama,” University of Alabama, 2013.
And Kathleen Robbins, associate professor of art at the University of South Carolina, will offer “Into the Flatland,” as the title of both her presentation and gallery.
Raised in the Mississippi Delta, Robbins has made that region the centerpiece of much of her professional work. She is the author of “Into the Flatland,” a photographic study of the people of the Mississippi Delta that sheds life on the cultural history of the region.
“Those who have attended are generally pleased by their experience. The conference is not only an opportunity to see and share various scholarly interests, but to meet colleagues from around the state and country,” Severance said.
For more information, visit http://liberalarts.aum.edu/southern-studies-conference.