Southern Gothic—The 29th Annual Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration
by Brett Brinegar
Ironic, strange, bizarre, outlandish, and peculiar—these are the elements that make the Southern Gothic style unique. Leading authors such as William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Flannery O’Connor used these elements to develop complex and layered stories of the American South that served to explore controversial social issues and mock the modern age. Whether scholarly or popular, Southern Gothic novels often feature villains hiding behind virtue or victimhood. Mystery, scandal, suspense, and madness are common themes throughout the genre.
Join us for the 29th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration as we explore this genre and much more. We have an outstanding roster of presenters this year discussing scholarly and popular literature, history, film, art, and photography. Our conference begins on Thursday evening, February 22, at 6:00 p.m. at the Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main Street, and concludes on Saturday, February 24, at 5:00 p.m. This year, we are very excited to feature both an onsite art market and onsite bookstore inside the Convention Center. Attendees can browse and purchase works from talented local artists as well as books by our presenters.
All sessions at the Convention Center are free and open to the public, thanks to the support of the Mississippi Humanities Council, Adams County, The Natchez Convention and Promotion Board, the City of Natchez, Turning Pages Books, Entergy Mississippi, and private donors throughout the state and region.
Matthew Guinn is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and earned a B.A. in English from the University of Georgia. He continued graduate school at the University of Mississippi where he met his wife Kristen and completed a master’s degree. At the University of South Carolina, where he earned a Ph.D. in English, he was personal assistant to the late James Dickey. In addition to the Universities of Mississippi and South Carolina, he has taught at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at Tulane University’s School of Continuing Studies in Madison, Mississippi. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing. Matthew and Kristen Guinn live in Jackson, Mississippi, with their two children, Braiden and Phoebe.
Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies Jay Watson, a native of Athens, Georgia, received his B.A. degree from the University of Georgia (1983) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1985, 1989). He joined the English Department there in 1989 and was promoted to Professor of English in 2007. During the 2002-2003 academic year, he served as Visiting Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland. He has since been honored with the UM Faculty Achievement Award (2012), the UM Liberal Arts Professor of the Year award (2014), and the UM Humanities Teacher of the Year award (2014); and in 2013, he was a finalist for the Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year Award. His publications include two monographs, Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner (U of Georgia P, 1993) and Reading for the Body: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Southern Fiction, 1893-1985 (U of Georgia P, 2012), and seven edited or coedited collections: Conversations with Larry Brown (UP of Mississippi, 2007), Faulkner and Whiteness (UP of Mississippi, 2011), Faulkner’s Geographies (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Fifty Years after Faulkner (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas (UP of Mississippi, 2016), Faulkner and History (UP of Mississippi, 2017), and Faulkner and Print Culture (UP of Mississippi, 2017).
After a career as a communication manager and a long-time avocation as a blues radio DJ in Lille, France, Victor Bouvéron settled down in America to become a public folklorist. Bouvéron received an M.A. in Folklore from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2017. Following his graduation, he conducted extensive fieldwork for three months in New York State, documenting old-time music in the region. He is currently helping Music Maker Relief Foundation, a nonprofit based in Hillsborough, North Carolina, on a traveling exhibition that presents a little-known African American guitar maker Freeman Vines. Bouvéron comes to us at the recommendation of Dr. William Ferris, his longtime mentor.
Blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist Ray Cashman will be sharing the stage with Victor Bouvéron at the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. Cashman is both a performance and group artist, and plays the blues of the Mississippi Delta. He draws his inspiration from the Southern Gothic tradition and is the subject of Victor Bouvéron’s research. The two will present a lively and informative session on the Southern Gothic influence in Blues music.
William Dunlap, having an M.F.A. from the University of Mississippi and having taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina (1970-79) and Memphis State University (1979-80), has distinguished himself as an artist, arts commentator, and educator during a career that has spanned more than three decades. An inspired speaker, he has lectured on art-related subjects at colleges, universities, institutions, and professional conferences. At the NLCC, He will offer a multi-media presentation on his recent book Short Mean Fiction, which was featured at this year’s Mississippi Book Fair. His paintings, sculpture, and constructions are included in the prestigious collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Lauren Rogers Museum, Mobil Corporation, Riggs Bank, IBM Corporation, Federal Express, The Equitable Collection, Rogers Ogden Collection, Arkansas Art Center, United States State Department, and United States Embassies throughout the world.
Darden North’s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin. The Five Manners of Death, released June 15, 2017, follows Wiggle Room, Fresh Frozen, and House Call. Darden has served on author panels at writing conferences including Killer Nashville, Murder on the Menu, SIBA Thriller Author Panel, and Murder in the Magic City. To book Darden for a book club, book signing, or presentation contact Darden@DardenNorth.com. A board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist practicing at Jackson Healthcare for Women in Flowood, Mississippi, Darden North is Chairman of the Board of the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation and a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of the Mississippi Medical Association. He lives in Jackson with his wife Sally and enjoys family, travel, and outdoor activities. The Norths have two adult children who also work in the medical field.
Kathleen Woodruff Wickham is a professor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi and a faculty fellow of the first Residential College. She is a former newspaper reporter from New Jersey who teaches many of the reporting classes in the Meek School’s program. In 2008, the Society of Professional Journalists named her the national Outstanding Faculty Adviser for her work with the campus SPJ chapter. She has previously published four books and numerous academic articles and is currently researching the lives of the reporters present on campus during the 1962 integration crisis. She was instrumental in having the Ole Miss campus named a national historic site in journalism in honor of those reporters. Dr. Wickham earned her graduate degrees from the University of Memphis where she taught for more than fifteen years. She has also served as chair of the Newspaper Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and currently serves on the editorial board of Newspaper Research Journal. Last year she helped judge the newspaper entries for the National Headliner Awards. At the NLCC, Wickham will present on her critically acclaimed book We Believed We Were Immortal, a study on the journalism of the 1962 Ole Miss riots.
The Cold Case Investigations Panel will serve as a keynote event for the 2018 NLCC, and is made up of historian Hank Klibanoff, author Stanley Nelson, and journalist Robert J. Rosenthal
Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is a Professor of Practice in Emory’s Creative Writing Program. He co-authored The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation that won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for history. Prior to joining Emory, he was a reporter and editor for more than thirty-five years, held various reporting and editing positions at The Boston Globe, and The Philadelphia Inquirer and served as a managing editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He holds an undergraduate degree in English from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. At Emory University, Klibanoff directs the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project (coldcases.emory.edu), for which students examine Georgia’s modern civil rights history through the investigation of unsolved and unpunished racially motivated murders.
As editor of the Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, Louisiana, Stanley Nelson writes a weekly column about his region’s turbulent history. He also has been astonished by his own discoveries about the mean, corrupt, and violent behavior of Ku Klux Klansmen in the recent past. Week after week, Nelson digs out a new gem about the unsolved race murders of Frank Morris, Joe Edwards, and Wharlest Jackson; his investigations and reports have led the FBI to offer a reward for information about these murders and have prompted federal and state prosecutors to join forces in probing the murders. His reports on the secretive Silver Dollar Group, a Klan off-shoot, prompted the sons of a deceased Klan leader to describe to him life inside a Klan family and ask forgiveness for any evil deeds their father may have committed. Nelson is the author of Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s.
As CIR’s Executive Director, Robert (Rosey) Rosenthal also is serving as the project’s executive editor. Rosenthal has worked for some of the most respected newspapers in the country, including The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and, most recently, the San Francisco Chronicle. Rosenthal, a former foreign correspondent based in Africa, worked for twenty-two years at the Inquirer, eventually serving as editor and executive vice president. As a reporter, Rosenthal won numerous awards, including the Overseas Press Club Award for magazine writing, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished foreign correspondence, and the National Association of Black Journalists Award for Third World Reporting. He was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in international reporting and served as a Pulitzer Prize judge four times. Rosenthal has been an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Karen L. Cox is Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the founding director of the graduate public history program. She received her B.A. and M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and her Ph.D. in 1997 from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is the author of two books and numerous essays and articles on the subject of southern history and culture. She has just completed a third monograph entitled Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South set in 1930s Natchez, Mississippi. Cox is also an OAH Distinguished Lecturer and at the NLCC will be presenting on her recently published book on the Goat Castle murders, which occurred in Natchez Mississippi.
Dr. Martha Ward is the author of Nest in the Wind, A World Full of Women, and A Sounding of Women: Autobiographies from Unexpected Places, among other books. She is University Research Professor of Anthropology, Urban Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of New Orleans. She will be presenting on her new book Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Leveau. The Laveaus were free women of color and prominent French-speaking Catholic Creoles. From the 1820s until the 1880s when one died and the other disappeared, gossip, fear, and fierce affection swirled about them. From the heart of the French Quarter, in dance, drumming, song, and spirit possession, they ruled the imagination of New Orleans.
David Ridgen will be presenting his 2011 documentary Reconciliation in Mississippi on Thursday, Feburary 22, as the keynote cinema event. Winner of the 2007 Gemini for Best Director of a Documentary Program for his Mississippi Cold Case, Ridgen is an award-winning media producer, specializing in hard-hitting, character-driven, point-of-view, investigative television and theatrical programming. Ridgen’s Reconciliation in Mississippi breaks new ground in both spurring and documenting a process of reconciliation between African American Thomas Moore and Charles Edwards, a Ku Klux Klansman that helped to brutally murder Thomas’s brother Charles and his friend Henry Dee in 1964. Reconciliation in Mississippi, the follow-up to Ridgen’s Mississippi Cold Case, changes the way people will view justice in civil-rights-era cases and captures the extraordinary endurance of one man’s love for his brother and the conversion of long-held hatred into a hymn of redemption.
Richard Grant is an author, journalist and television host. He currently writes for Smithsonian magazine, New York Times, Al Jazeera America, the Telegraph UK, Aeon and several other publications. He grew up in London, England, and now lives in Jackson, Mississippi.
Grant’s latest book is the best-selling Dispatches From Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta about his move to the backwoods of Mississippi and the layered complexity of race relations there. Other projects include the BBC documentary film American Nomads, hosted, narrated and written by Grant, and a consulting role in the multiple-award-winning new documentary Omo Child: The River and The Bush, about ending infanticide in Southern Ethiopia.
This year we are offering three ticketed events:
Friday February 23—Ghost Tour at Glenfield Plantation, $25: This fascinating home belongs to two bygone eras. The first section of the home was built in 1817 in the prevailing Spanish style. Additions and improvements made in 1845 are in the English Gothic style, making this home unique among the antebellum buildings in Natchez. Passed down through seven generations to the present owners, this lovely and haunting home is the perfect setting for this year’s Ghost Tour. Join the Meng family for refreshments and a lively and informative evening. Either 7:00 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. tours are available
Saturday February 24—Benefit Luncheon, Dunleith Plantation, 11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., $30: This year, we are pleased to host our Saturday luncheon at Dunleith Plantation. Lunch will be served inside the main house.
Saturday Evening, February 24—Benefit Cocktail Buffet, The Elms, 5:30 p.m. $60: Built in 1804 and 1815, The Elms is the home of award winning chef Esther Carpenter.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2018
Thursday morning, HIGH SCHOOL EVENT, Co-Lin Natchez Campus with Sálongo Lee
Thursday evening, February 22, 2018—Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main Street
6:00-6:45 p.m. Short Film: “Local Landscapes,” Mike Chapman (photographer)
7:00-8:45 p.m. Cinema Event: Reconciliation in Mississippi, David Ridgen
Friday, February 23, 2018—Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main Street
8:30 a.m. Opening Ceremony, President Ronnie Nettles/CLCC; Mayor Darryl Grennell, City of Natchez. Presiding: Governor William F. Winter, Director of Proceedings, NLCC. Recognition of William Winter Scholars and Vance Fellows.
8:50 –9:30 a.m. “What is Southern Gothic?” Dr. Matthew Guinn, Belhaven University and author of The Scribe, and The Resurrectionist.
9:30-10:30 a.m. “William Faulkner and the Southern Gothic Tradition.” Dr. Jay Watson, Howry Chair in Faulkner Studies and Professor of English, University of Mississippi
10:30-11:30 a.m. “Writing Gothic” Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from Pluto, Crazy River, and American Nomads.
1:00-1:20 p.m. Presentation of the Thad Cochran Award for Achievement in the Humanities to Dr. David Sansing (History, University of Mississippi) and Dr. John D. W. Guice (ret., History, University of Southern Mississippi)
1:30-2:30 p.m. “Southern Gothic and the Blues.” Victor Bouvéron, folklorist, and Ray Cashman, blues musician. A protégé of Dr. William Ferris (UNC Chapel Hill), Mr. Bouvéron has conducted extensive fieldwork for three months in New York State, documenting old-time music in the region, as well as extensive research into blues music.
3:00-4:00 p.m. Short Mean Fiction William Dunlap, artist, arts commentator and educator. He will offer a multi-media presentation on his recent book Short Mean Fiction, which was featured at this year’s Mississippi Book Fair.
4:00-5:00 p.m. “The Journalism of the Ole Miss Riots” Dr. Kathleen Wickham, professor at the Meek School of Journalism and New Media at the University of Mississippi and a faculty fellow of the first Residential College. She will present on her critically acclaimed book We Believed We Were Immortal, a study on the journalism of the Ole Miss riots.
5:00 p.m. Reception, NAPAC Museum
7:00 p.m. / 8:00 p.m. Ghost Tour: Glenfield Planation. 6 Glenfield Lane. Home of the Meng family. This is a ticketed event. Tickets $25.
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2018—Natchez Convention Center, 211 Main Street
8:30 a.m. Opening Remarks: Dr. Ronnie Nettles, President, Copiah Lincoln Community College; Recognition of the winners of our Young Writers Competition.
9:00-10:20 a.m. “Cold Case Investigations,” Hank Klibanoff, Robert J. Rosenthal, and Stanley Nelson. The Cold Case Investigations Panel will serve as a keynote event for the 2018 NLCC. Hank Klibanoff, a veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, is a Professor of Practice in Emory’s Creative Writing Program. Robert (Rosey) Rosenthal is the director of the Center for Investigative Reporting and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. Stanley Nelson is the author of Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s, editor of the Concordia Sentinel, and a past recipient of the Richard Wright Award for Literary Excellence.
10:30-11:30 a.m. Richard Wright Awards for Literary Excellence with educational presentations by the award winners, Billy Watson, a journalist for The Clarion Ledger, and Dr. Charles Regan Wilson, Kelly Gene Cook Sr. Chair of History and Professor of Southern Studies (ret) at the University of Mississippi
11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Ticketed Event: Luncheon at Dunleith Plantation. Tickets $30.
1:00-2:15 p.m. “The Real Marie Laveau,” Dr. Martha Ward. Martha Ward is the author of Nest in the Wind, A World Full of Women, and A Sounding of Women: Autobiographies from Unexpected Places, among other books. She is University Research Professor of Anthropology, Urban Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of New Orleans.
2:30-3:15 p.m. Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South, Dr. Karen Cox. Cox is a Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the founding director of the graduate public history program.
3:30-4:15 p.m. The Five Manners of Death, Dr. Darden North, award-winning author and Chairman of the Board, Mississippi Public Broadcasting Foundation. Dr. North’s mystery and thriller novels have been awarded nationally, most notably an IPPY in Southern Fiction for Points of Origin. North’s recently published The Five Manners of Death follows Wiggle Room, Fresh Frozen, and House Call.
5:30-7:45 Ticketed Event: Benefit Cocktail Reception, The Elms. Tickets $60.
Presentation times may adjust slightly to allow for book signings and breaks.
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