Ozarks Studies Symposium -2015

symposium-2015-juan-montana-photoEl Chico Bakery on Cherokee Street in St. Louis by Missouri-based artist Juan Montana

2015 Ozarks Studies Symposium


“The Lure of the Ozarks” is the theme of the ninth annual Ozarks Studies Symposium set for Sept. 17-19 at the West Plains Civic Center.

The event celebrates various aspects of Ozarks culture through presentations and performances by representatives of the academic world and the public sector. The Symposium Committee is sponsoring this program in partnership with the Missouri Humanities Council and with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding will be provided by the office of academic affairs at Missouri State University-West Plains, the West Plains Council on the Arts and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. All activities of the symposium are free and open to all.

“This year’s theme seems to be a popular one, for we have 20 presentations on an exciting variety of topics, such as Ozarks literature, anti-Semitic violence, folk music, archeology, peach farming, back-to the land movements, Bald Knobbers, Rose O’Neill, communes and woodcuts,” said Dr. Phillip Howerton, associate professor of English at Missouri State-West Plains and coordinator of the symposium. “There are numerous reasons why people have been drawn to the Ozarks, ranging from the very positive to the very negative. Some people’s experiences in the region prompt them to stay a lifetime while others hurriedly make their escape. Everyone who lives here lives here for a reason, so we hope they will attend this symposium and join the conversation.”

gallery-missouriimmigrantsThe symposium will begin with an opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17, on the mezzanine at the West Plains Civic Center. This reception will feature The Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) photographic exhibition, “The Missouri Immigrant Experience,” which explores the lives and history of Missouri’s immigrants and refugees. The exhibit features the works of four Missouri-based artists, focusing on their own communities, as well as historical images. The reception is admission free and sponsored by the West Plains Council on the Arts, with financial support from the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.

symposium2015-keynotedr-steve-wiegensteinThe symposium’s keynote address will be given at 4 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, by Dr. Steve Wiegenstein, the director of graduate studies at Columbia College. Wiegenstein is the author of two novels, Slant of Light, which was the runner up for the 2012 Langum Prize in American historical fiction and a finalist for the 2014 Balcones Fiction Prize; and This Old World, which was a finalist for the M. M. Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction. Wiegenstein’s presentation is “The Lure of the Ozarks: What’s the Bait and Who’s the Fish?”


“Mountain Modernity and Archeology in the Arkansas Ozarks: A Case Study from Van Winkle’s Mill” Dr. Jamie C. Brandon, Arkansas Archeological Survey Research Station Archeologist and Associate Research Professor, University of Arkansas. This presentation will provide an overview of archeological investigations at Van Winkle’s Mill, the site of a late-nineteenth century sawmill community in the Arkansas Ozarks. This multi-disciplinary research endeavor—partnered with multiple descendant communities—has provided important information about the African Diaspora in the Ozarks and also aided in the understanding of the industrialization and modernization of the region.


“Peach Fever”Dr. Susan Edens, Assistant Professor of Practice in Communications, University of the Ozarks. This short documentary film will present the story of a five-generation peach-growing family. The Morgan family has operated a successful orchard on the same stretch of land at the base of the Ozark Mountains for over one hundred years. How do they do it? What does it take to grow a peach? What besides the taste and variety of this summer treasure brings the same people back year after year? This is the art and science of agriculture, but it is also a lesson in history and land stewardship.


“Literary Lure in the Ozarks?” – Charity Gibson, Assistant Professor of English, College of the Ozarks. The Ozarks have received very little attention from major authors. Therefore, when looking at Ozark literature, one must realize that its absence from the canon may be perceived as a political statement about the values and ideologies of the Ozarks. This presentation will explore the literary attention given to or denied to the Ozarks.


“A Place of Restoration, Recreation, and Safety: The Ozarks in The Shepherd of the Hills, The Bald-Knobbers and The Witness”- Dr. John J. Han, Professor of English and Creative Writing and Humanities Chair, Missouri Baptist University. This presentation explores the enduring appeal of the Ozarks region by examining three popular novels set in the highland region of the central United States: Harold Bell Wright’s The Shepherd of the Hills (1907), Clyde Edwin Tuck’s The Bald-Knobbers: A Romantic and Historical Novel (1910) and Nora Roberts’s The Witness (2012).


“Re-Creation in the Ozarks: Sue Hubbell’s A Country Year” – Dr. Brian Hardman, Associate Professor of English, University of the Ozarks.A Country Year is considered a contemporary classic in the genre of nature writing and nature writing plays a special role in Ozarks literature. This presentation will connect Hubbell’s book to the tradition of nature writing and explain how she is able, in the original sense of the word recreation, to come to the Ozarks and “re-create” her life as a farmer and beekeeper, after her thirty year marriage broke up, and she found herself alone and at middle age.


Bootlegger’s Ballad and Hard Travelin’ Man: Studies in Woodcut” – Neal Harrington, Gallery Director and Associate Professor of Art Printmaking, Arkansas Technical University. Two series of works will be presented, the Bootlegger’s Ballad and Hard Travelin’ Man, to explore the themes of the human condition and to show that the timeless quest for oneself is the truly the eternal struggle. The independent character of the land and the people of the Ozarks region play a distinctive role in the development of this artwork, for this area encompasses a fierce and rich landscape full of folklore and mythologies of individuals who have forged their own trail in life.


“Readings from Border States” – Dr. Jane Hoogestraat, Professor of English and Literature Coordinator, Missouri State University. Dr. Hoogestraat will be reading from her recently published book, Border States, a collection of poems set in her native state of South Dakota and her current home of Missouri.


“Seven Images, Seven Poems” – Dr. Phillip Howerton, Associate Professor of English, Missouri State University-West Plains. Seven Ozarks-based poems will be presented, and each will be accompanied by photograph related to the poem.


“What brought Frazier Glenn Miller to the Ozarks?” – Dr. Mara W. Cohen Ioannides, Senior Instructor of English, Missouri State University. This paper examines what drew Glenn Frazier Miller to the region and the reactions of both the Jewish and non-Jewish metro-Springfield communities to the anti-Semitic violence he perpetrated.


“The Dan Blocker Singers and an Ozarks Utopia” – Dr. Thomas Kersen, Associate Professor of Sociology, Jackson State University. In the late 1960s, a nationally known singing group, The Dan Blocker Singers, moved to the Arkansas Ozarks to live communally. After a series of misfortunes as well as hostility local citizens they left the Ozarks in the early 1970s. This presentation, using various documentary sources and an in-depth interview, will go into greater detail about this intentional community and also explore the dynamics between this commune and their mainstream neighbors and other area communes.


“A Place of Restoration, Recreation, and Safety: The Ozarks in The Shepherd of the Hills, The Bald-Knobbers and The Witness” – Dr. Aya Kubota, Professor of American Literature, Department of Intercultural Studies, Bunka Gakuen University, Tokyo. This paper explores the enduring appeal of the Ozarks region by examining three popular novels set in the highland region of the central United States: Harold Bell Wright’s The Shepherd of the Hills (1907), Clyde Edwin Tuck’s The Bald-Knobbers: A Romantic and Historical Novel (1910), and Nora Roberts’s The Witness (2012).


“Open and Sheltered Sites: Late Prehistoric Adaptations along the Western Flanks of the Ozarks” – Dr. Neal H. Lopinot, Director of the Center for Archaeological Research and a Full Research Professor, Missouri State University. Archaeological research during the past 20 years at sites along the western edge of the Ozarks and dating to ca. A.D. 1300–1500 has resulted in the recovery of much new subsistence information. Plant and animal remains from excavations at a large village, a civic-ceremonial center, a rockshelter, and a cave, all dating to the Neosho phase, will be described.


“The Saltiest of the Old-Timers Are Dead Now” – Kim McCully-Mobley, Adjunct Professor, Drury University.

This presentation will be an overview of the career of folklorist Vance Randolph and will include aspects of the language of the Ozarks hillfolk, the Ozarks oral tradition and its connections to Beowulf, the need to collect and preserve stories, modes of storytelling today and the role of music in documenting the topics and themes of the past.


“Music Panel” – Dr. Ed McKinney, Emeritus Professor of History, Missouri State University-West Plains. Dr. McKinney and a group of old-time musicians will discuss and perform a variety of Ozarks folk tunes.


“Deep Revolution in the Arkansas Ozarks” – Dr. Jared M. Phillips, Adjunct Professor of History, University of Arkansas. As the nation attempted to recover from the chaos and anger of Vietnam and the backlash against the Great Society during the 1970s, the counterculture began seeking for new ways to live out the Aquarian Revolution. While much has been made of groups living in San Francisco and elsewhere, little attention has been paid to members of the counterculture who fled America’s urban environments and headed for the hills, in particular, the Ozarks of Arkansas. This paper discusses the rationale behind the thousands of young, largely middle class “back-to-the-landers” who came to the Arkansas Ozarks searching for a place to build a true and lasting human community, creating what is termed here as a “deep revolution.”


“The Big Eddy Site: A Deep, Stratified, Multicomponent Site in the Sac River Valley of Southwest Missouri” – Jack H. Ray, Assistant director of the Center for Archaeological Research and assistant research professor, Missouri State University. Six seasons of field work at the Big Eddy site produced voluminous data on the archaeology of the lower Sac River valley situated on the border between the eastern Plains and western Woodlands. This presentation focuses on the Paleoindian and Archaic occupations that occurred at Big Eddy between approximately 13,500 and 3,000 years ago.


“Rose Cecil O’Neill: Inspirations from Her Ozarks Bonniebrook Homestead” – Susan Scott, President, Bonniebrook Historical Society (BHS) Board of Directors and Acting Volunteer Curator, Bonniebrook Historical Society Museum and Fine Art Gallery. Ms. Scott will provide a brief biography of artist Rose Cecil O’Neill and will explore how O’Neill’s art and writings were inspired by the countryside and folklore of the Ozarks.


“Hardwood Hop: The Songs of Eric Bogwalker” – Eric Tumminia, Adjunct Professor of English, Missouri State University-West Plains. The lure of the Ozarks cannot be denied, particularly for a second-generation back-to-the-lander. The songs of Eric Bogwalker explore the ecology and rock’n’roll-ology of the Missouri Ozarks where he was raised, as well as the interplay between the global and the local. Bicycle treks in the Pacific Northwest collide with Appalachian anti-coal activism in the songs of Eric Bogwalker, and the Guatemalan Highlands high-five the Ozark Mountains. Eric will give a brief, five-minute introduction and artist’s statement and then perform a few songs with the accompaniment of a small band.


“Readings from The Teeth of Souls”- Steve Yates, Assistant Director and Marketing Director, University Press of Mississippi and Author of Morkan’s Quarry and Some Kinds of Love. The author will read selections from his recently published The Teeth of Souls, a sequel to Morkan’s Quarry. The Teeth of the Souls tells the story of a marriage betrayed, a lifelong and secret love and an Ozarks city riven by an Easter lynching.



Thursday, September 17, 2015
On the Mezzanine, West Plains Civic Center
8:00 PM
Sponsor: West Plains Council on the Arts
Opening Reception: Missouri Immigrant Experience Exhibit

Schedule subject to change—full, updated schedule available at