International Education Week Showcases Opportunities Abroad

Events encourage students and faculty to engage in learning about and from other cultures

UM students Guangyi Zou and Yin Chang play the Chinese folk music duet ‘Molihua’ as part of the 2015 International Education Week. This year’s observance features demonstrations from Malpaso Dance Company of Cuba, among many other events. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Office of Global Engagement is participating in a joint initiative between the federal departments of State and Education to showcase benefits of international education and promote programs that prepare students for a global environment. 

The observance of International Education Week, set for Nov. 13-17, includes a variety of activities and opportunities for Ole Miss students, faculty and staff.

International education fosters personal growth and encourages students to seek opportunities worldwide, said Blair McElroy, interim senior international officer and director of study abroad.

“While a study abroad opportunity gives students the ability to take classes toward their majors while studying at another university, it also provides opportunities for thinking critically about different cultures, values, people and backgrounds, including one’s own,” she said. “Students grow more tolerant, empathetic and independent as a result of experiencing another culture firsthand.”

McElroy encourages Ole Miss students to learn from peers from other countries on campus.

“International students bring unique perspectives to the classroom, and many departments, offices and institutes on campus offer events and activities where all students can learn about other cultures from right here at Ole Miss,” she said.

All events are free and open to the public. Here is a full schedule:

Monday (Nov. 13)

Internships in Eastern Asia Information Session – Noon-1 p.m., Martindale Hall, Room 318. Representatives from the Office of Global Engagement and the Croft Institute for International Studies present funded opportunities for student internships in East Asia.

Italian in Salerno Presentation – 4-6 p.m., Peabody Hall, Room 202. Francesca Romana Memoli, of Accademia Italiana, and UM faculty members and Study Abroad advisers discuss opportunities to take Italian language courses in 2018 at Accademia Italiana in Salerno, Italy.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture and Welcome Reception – 7:30-9 p.m. and 9-11 p.m., Powerhouse Community Arts Center. Fernando Saez, artistic director of the Malpaso Dance Company, will discuss works performed by the company, as well as how Cuban society expresses culture through dance. The company, which is working with students enrolled in the “Dance in Cuba” class, also will perform sections of its dances.

Tuesday (Nov. 14)

Film Screening: “Yangtze Drift” – Noon-1 p.m., Overby Center Auditorium. The film by Josh Rash of the Southern Documentary Project follows a path along the Yangtze River in China to investigate landscape, water and culture.

Lecture: “A Changing Cuba” – 7-8 p.m., Croft Hall, Room 107. Fernando Saez of the Malpaso Dance Company will deliver a lecture on the political and cultural climate of Cuba.

Wednesday (Nov. 15)

Conversational Cuban Spanish Discussion – 1-2 p.m., St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. Malpaso Dance Company members discuss how dance reflects culture and spirit. Community members also will have an opportunity to practice their Spanish and learn more about Cuban pronunciation.

Malpaso Dance Company Lecture, Presentation and Farewell Reception – 7-8:30 p.m. and 8:30-10 p.m., Ford Center Studio Theatre. The Malpaso Dance Company will perform excerpts of its works, followed by an explanation of the significance by choreographer Osnel Delgado and artistic director Fernando Saez. Following the presentation, a farewell reception will be held for Malpaso beginning at 8:30. The company will return to the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts for a Jan. 27 performance.

Thursday (Nov. 16)

World Culture Showcase – 12:15-2:15 p.m., Old Athletics Building. The Intensive English Program hosts a cultural showcase with opportunities to meet Ole Miss international students and learn more about them and their cultures.

Transformation through Education Abroad – 6 p.m., Bryant Hall. Study Abroad alumni discuss their experiences abroad through photo presentations. Tea, coffee and refreshments will be provided.

Friday (Nov. 17)

Fulbright Panel – Noon-1:30 p.m., Farley Hall, Room 121. Bob Cummings, director of writing and rhetoric; David Holben, professor of nutrition and hospitality management; and Laura Johnson, associate professor of psychology, share their Fulbright experiences through a panel discussion. Lunch will be provided and faculty are encouraged to attend and learn more about opportunities available for international research and teaching experiences through the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Cultural Cafe – 2-4 p.m., Brevard Hall, Woods Lounge. This social venue serves as a place for students, scholars, faculty and staff to have casual conversations while enjoying free coffee, tea and snacks.

The week of opportunities is presented in partnership with the Office of the Provost; the College of Liberal Arts; the Croft Institute for International Studies; the departments of Modern Languages, Nutrition and Hospitality Management, and Theatre Arts; the Center for the Study of Southern Culture; and the Chinese Language Flagship Program.

For more information about International Education Week, visit https://oge.olemiss.edu/ or https://iew.state.gov/.

Alumnus Credits UM Experiences for Role in James Beard Nomination

Hospitality management graduate Carlyle Watt lauded for artisan breads, local sourcing

Carlyle Watt cuts into a focaccia at the Fire Island Rustic Bakeshop. Photo by Brian Adams

OXFORD, Miss. – Carlyle Watt, a 2005 graduate of the University of Mississippi’s hospitality management program and a 2017 James Beard Award nominee in the Outstanding Baker category, returned to campus recently to participate in the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium.

In his first experience with the symposium, Watt attended lectures and tastings designed to reframe ideas about ethnicity and identity in the Latin American culture, the theme for this year’s event, held Oct. 5-7. He networked with hundreds of chefs and mentors involved with the Southern Foodways Alliance, a member-supported organization based at the university’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“We’re so proud of Carlyle for his Beard Award nomination,” said Dru Jones, chef and food specialist for Lenoir Dining, the campus restaurant run by students in the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management. “It is a huge honor to be nominated, since these awards are often referred to as the ‘Oscars of food’ in the culinary world.”

Established in 1990, the James Beard Awards recognize culinary professionals for excellence and achievement in their fields. Only 20 semifinalists were named in this year’s national competition.

Watt has been head baker at Fire Island Rustic Bake Shop in Anchorage, Alaska, for five years, creating a selection of 15 or more artisan breads daily. Watt works closely with the area’s farmers and designs his menus accordingly, sourcing as much local, organic and sustainable product as possible.

A native of South Carolina’s Lowcountry, Watt learned to cook the traditional cuisines of the Carolinas from his parents and grandmothers. While attending Ole Miss, he cooked at Proud Larry’s, Oxford Steak Company and Bouré.

With his first James Beard Award nomination for Outstanding Baker in tow, Carlyle Watt visits Lenoir Hall while in Oxford for the 20th Southern Foodways Symposium. Submitted photo

The hospitality management program curriculum at UM offers a foundation in liberal arts, business and operations management. The program’s curriculum is designed to enhance and strengthen students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, so that they can address, meet and adapt to the various needs of the hospitality industry in managerial positions.

Since the hospitality management degree program at Ole Miss exposes students to all facets of the industry, the chef himself mentors and advises students who find a passion for cooking while they consider which culinary school to attend after graduation.

After graduation and several cooking gigs across the Southeast, Watt attended the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Saint Helena, California.

“It was awesome, because I got to go to the accelerated program because of my degree,” Watt said. “If you have a bachelor’s degree in hospitality, dietetics or nutrition, you skip all the classroom stuff and go straight to eight months of intense kitchen training, and I was done.”

After culinary school, Watt moved to Alaska to pursue a career as a personal chef, but after a few years on the job decided to return to what he loved the most from culinary school: baking.

“I got a job as a night baker in culinary school for the school’s restaurant,” he said. “I would go to school until like 9 p.m. and go straight over to the bakery. Everyone, students and instructors, were gone, and I’d have the place to myself. I’d bake bread all night.”

As founding members of the Super Saturated Sugar Strings, Watt and his wife, Theresa, appreciate that Watt’s early baking hours afford them time to spend practicing and playing the alt-folk music they love, with Watt on vocals, guitar and percussion and Theresa on cello. Their six-member band can be seen at venues and festivals across Alaska, Colorado and Oregon.

Watt is one of three brothers who attended Ole Miss. Kenton Watt, a journalism graduate, is a development officer for Texas Christian University, and Bill Watt runs Carolina Lumber Sourcing in Charleston, South Carolina.

For more information about the UM Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, visit http://nhm.olemiss.edu/.

Southern Photography Exhibits on Display at UM in October

Selections from the Do Good Fund collection explore the region and its culture

This photo, titled ‘Dollar Tree, Abbeville, MS, 2013’ by Brooke White is one of the photos featured in the Do Good exhibit. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Department of Art and Art History are collaborating to host a variety of photography exhibitions and events on campus during October.

“NOW: Contemporary Southern Photography” is on display in Gallery 130, in Meek Hall. The photo selections are from the Do Good Fund, a public charity in Columbus, Georgia, that focuses on building a quality collection of photographs taken in the South after World War II.

The selection of 25 pieces created over the past decade by 13 photographers describes the South through portraiture, landscape, narrative and architecture. The exhibit explores the varied photographic approaches that Southern photographers use to challenge preconceived notion about the South.

“The mission of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture is to study the American South in all its various essentials,” said David Wharton, director of documentary studies at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. “We’re very pleased that photographs from the Do Good Collection are helping us do that.”

The exhibit’s opening reception is set for 5-6 p.m. Oct. 5, preceded from 3 to 4 p.m. by a panel discussion featuring artists Jill Frank, a member of the photography faculty at Georgia State University; Jerry Seigel, a renowned photographer whose work is in many public and private collections; Brooke White, UM associate professor of art and art history; and Wharton. Alan Rothschild, founder of the Do Good Fund, will moderate the panel.

The exhibit will remain on display through Oct. 27.

A second exhibit, “Southern People, Southern Places,” runs through Dec. 8. in the Gammill Gallery of Barnard Observatory, with an opening reception 4:30-5:30 p.m. Oct. 5.  The 24 photos by 20 Southern artists include images of residents and the areas they inhabit.

The photographs encourage viewers to consider the bonds that exist between Southerners, their culture and the place they call home.

A brown bag lecture will be hosted about both Do Good exhibits from noon to 1 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Gammill Gallery with Wharton and White.

The collaboration to bring Southern photography to Mississippi began about four years ago.

“As a photographer working in the deep Southern United States, it has been critical to both my teaching and artistic practice to find connections between the local and connect it to the global,” White said.

The Do Good Fund also has six other exhibits in Mississippi.

“Each of the eight exhibitions throughout the state will be varied in their curatorial approach, but each calls into question what it means to be Southern and the important role the South plays in developing identity and place,” White said. “Photography will take center stage and the images will reflect the familiar alongside unfamiliar images of the South and will create a discussion about history, place and the culture of the state.”

For more information about the Do Good Fund, visit http://www.thedogoodfund.org/.

Visiting Professor to Discuss Foods of Slave Trade Thursday at UM

Judith Carney featured speaker of the Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar Program

Judith Carney

OXFORD, Miss. – A geographer from the University of California at Los Angeles will discuss foods grown by African slaves Thursday (Sept. 14) at the University of Mississippi.

Judith Carney begins her lecture, “Seeds of Memory: Food Legacies of the Transatlantic Slave Trade,” at 5:30 p.m. in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. Her appearance, part of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society’s Visiting Scholar Program, is free and open to the public.

The event is co-sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and its departments of History and Modern Languages, the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College and Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

“Professor Carney’s lecture on the contribution of the transatlantic slave trade to the foodways of the Americas, including the southeastern United States, will give people a new perspective on something very familiar: the food on their plates,” said William Schenck, associate director of UM’s Croft Institute for International Studies and president of the UM chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.

“It will also highlight the agency of enslaved African people, who, using their knowledge about the cultivation of African plants to feed themselves, created a new food culture, with important consequences for what – and how – we eat today.”

Carney’s research centers on African ecology and development, food security and agrarian change and African contributions to New World environmental history. She is the author of “Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas” (Harvard University Press, 2001) and “In the Shadow of Slavery: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World” (University of California Press, 2010).

“This talk shifts our usual historical focus from the export crops slaves produced to the foods they planted for their own sustenance,” Carney said. “The lecture emphasizes the role of African foods in provisioning the transatlantic slave trade, the slave ship as a medium for their circulation and the slave food plots where these foods initially appeared.

“In doing so, it underscores the significance of the transatlantic slave trade for the circulation of African plants, animals and natural knowledge in the Atlantic world.”

Founded in 1776, Phi Beta Kappa is the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate honors organization in the liberal arts. Chartered in 2001, the UM chapter is the second of two in Mississippi and the only one sheltered at a public university in the state.

“An event such as this is the epitome of cultural opportunity available to those living in a college town,” said Sandra Spiroff, associate professor of mathematics and vice president of the chapter.

“The Visiting Scholar Program provides the community free access to presentations by national researchers on a variety of topics and potentially challenges the listener to consider viewpoints other than his or her own. For students of all ages, this is a particular aim of a liberal education.”

The Mississippi Encyclopedia to Be Published in May

Celebratory events kick off May 20 on the Oxford Square, continue through summer

OXFORD, Miss. – Work on a project that began at the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture in 2003 has concluded at long last. The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a mammoth collaboration that includes more than 1,600 entries and 1,451 pages, goes on sale in May.

The first encyclopedic treatment of the state since 1907, the volume features work by more than 700 scholars, who wrote entries on every county, every governor and numerous musicians, writers, artists and activists. Published by the University Press of Mississippi, the encyclopedia should appeal to anyone who wants to know more about Mississippi and the people who call it home, said Ted Ownby, director of the center and the volume’s co-editor.

“Any good encyclopedia has detailed, thorough, smart information on topics people want to find,” Ownby said. “So, from a journalist or traveler to a scholar or teacher to a kid doing a school project, everyone should find ways to use the book.

“But holding it in their hands, they should find all sorts of things they hadn’t thought to look up. We think it’s revealing that the work starts with ‘Abdul-Rauf, Mahmoud (Chris Jackson)’ and ends with ‘Ziglar, Zig,’ and both of those entries seem likely to surprise a lot of readers.”

The encyclopedia will be especially helpful to students, teachers and scholars researching, writing about or otherwise discovering the state, past and present, he said. It includes solid, clear information in a single volume, offering with clarity and scholarship a breadth of topics unavailable anywhere else.

The Mississippi Encyclopedia is the result of numerous collaborations – between the University Press of Mississippi and the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, among the numerous supporters who contributed to or helped organize the project, among the 30 topic editors from around the state and far beyond it, and among the authors, an intriguing mixture of scholars.

The Mississippi Humanities Council and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History supported the project, and the university’s history department and School of Law joined the Southern studies program in encouraging advanced students to write for it. Early support came from the university and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Each entry in The Mississippi Encyclopedia provides an authoritative but accessible introduction to the topic discussed. It also features long essays on agriculture, archaeology, the civil rights movement, the Civil War, contemporary issues, drama, education, the environment, ethnicity, fiction, folklife, foodways, geography, industry and industrial workers, law, medicine, music, myths and representations, Native Americans, nonfiction, poetry, politics and government, the press, religion, social and economic history, sports and visual art.

Senior editors Ownby and Charles Reagan Wilson and associate editor Ann Abadie began work on the project when Wilson was center director.

“Seetha Srinivasan, then the director of the University Press of Mississippi, approached the center about editing a state encyclopedia as other states were beginning to do,” said Wilson, professor emeritus of history and Southern studies. “The center’s advisory committee was supportive, and we began this long effort, which is now coming to fruition.”

Odie Lindsey, who now teaches at Vanderbilt University and is author of “We Come to Our Senses” and other works of fiction, began working on the project as managing editor in 2006.

James G. Thomas Jr., the center’s associate director for publications, was managing editor of the center’s New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture from 2003 to 2013. Before that project ended, he began working on The Mississippi Encyclopedia project.

Several events are planned to publicize and discuss the book. Events will commence at the Oxford City Hall, 107 Courthouse Square, at 3 p.m. May 20 with an event for the encyclopedia’s contributors, who will have an opportunity to speak briefly about their contribution to the book.

A signing and reception will follow at 5 p.m. at Off Square Books.

A celebration reception is set for 6 p.m. June 13 at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and a kickoff event is slated for Aug. 17 at the Mississippi Book Festival in Jackson, as well as visits to independent bookstores and cultural organizations across the state.

Visit http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu/ for more details and a full schedule.

UM Lecture Series to Examine ‘The Radical South’

Presenters to challenge conventional notions of the region throughout April

OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and Center for the Study of Southern Culture are co-sponsoring a series of lectures, discussions and presentations in April examining “The Radical South – Expanding Southern History and Identity.”

The series challenges the conventional stories of the South with topics involving Southern identity, cultural movements, racial justice, economic justice, and gender and sexual equality. Speakers will be featured from UM and around the country.

“This series represents the commitment of the Isom Center staff and faculty to amplify voices and perspectives that have often been silenced in the historical record of this period in American history,” said Katrina Caldwell, vice chancellor for diversity and community engagement. “This work is extremely necessary for real progress to take place in our community.”

Topics include “They Don’t Even Know: Black Southern Abundance in the Age of Donald Trump” at 5:30 p.m. April 4 in Overby Center Auditorium, “Recovering the Radical Oral History Tradition within Southern Freedom Movements” at noon April 17 and “Lobbying in the Heart of Dixie: LBGTQ Advocacy in the Alabama State House” at noon April 26. The latter two lectures are in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory.

More than 20 events will be held throughout the month. For a full schedule, visit http://sarahisomcenter.org/the-radical-south-april-2017-schedule/.

The events were planned following the declaration last year of “Confederate History Month,” said Jaime Harker, professor of English and director of the Isom Center.

“Our heritage includes much more than the Confederacy, and we want to encourage our students and the larger Mississippi community to learn about some of that diverse and unexpected history,” Harker said. “We hope ‘The Radical South’ will broaden our sense of Southern history and identity to include the full complexity of the region – past, present and future.”

Co-sponsors for the event include the Master of Fine Arts program within the Department of English; the departments of Sociology and Anthropology, Art, and Social Work; and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.

Donors Underwrite Southern Foodways Alliance’s ‘Gravy’

Major gift will allow UM center to continue telling stories of the region through its food

Brook and Pam Smith at Castle & Key Distillery, where the couple are partners, outside Frankfort, Kentucky. Photo by Steven Freeman

OXFORD, Miss. – Knowing the unifying qualities of food, Brook and Pam Smith of Louisville, Kentucky, have pledged $1 million to support “Gravy,” a podcast produced by the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi.

“Folks in different places appreciate when someone from one cultural segment takes the time to dine with others from a different cultural segment,” Brook Smith said. “It’s a show of respect and appreciation for a culture that may be different from their own, and that’s what we seem to be missing in our country today.”

Whenever the Smiths travel, they try to meet members of the Southern Foodways Alliance along the way. A member-supported nonprofit institute of the UM Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the SFA sponsors scholarships, mentors students, stages symposia, collects and shares oral histories, and produces and publishes books, podcasts and films.

On a recent trip to visit Pam’s family in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the Smiths detoured to Hemingway, South Carolina, where Scott’s Bar-B-Q, praised by The New York Times, attracts customers from hundreds of miles away.

“My whole life has been barbecue,” said pitmaster Rodney Scott, who just opened his own barbecue restaurant in nearby Charleston, South Carolina. “I grew up doing it, hanging around it and hanging around other people that do it. And there’s just no other way to bring people in quicker. It’s like a beacon sign; it just draws them right in there.”

That spirit drew in the Smiths. So did the storytelling work of the SFA.

“‘Gravy,’ which was awarded publication of the year in 2015 by the prestigious James Beard Foundation, shares stories of the changing American South through the foods we eat,” said John T. Edge, SFA director. “‘Gravy’ showcases a South that is constantly evolving.

“We use food as a means to complicate stereotypes, document new dynamics and give voice to the often unsung folk who grow, cook and serve our daily meals.”

Edge is grateful for the Smiths’ generous gift.

“This sort of long-term commitment offers funding stability so that the SFA can take risks to tell stories in new and bold ways,” Edge said. “At a moment when ‘Gravy’ recently delivered its 1 millionth download, Brook and Pam have invested deeply in our most scalable and sharable effort.

“They are long-time members of the organization who know and respect the role that food plays in the cultural life of our nation.”

Smith found success in the surety bonding business. He’s also a wine and distillery owner as well as a philanthropist with an interest in organizations that focus on improving life for young people and those like the SFA, which inspires communities to invest in their culinary customs and, in so doing, establishes lasting, cross-cultural relationships.

Smith also has an ongoing commitment to Appalachian Kentucky and recently established a private philanthropic fund focused on economic development in the region that includes an interest in development driven by local mountain food traditions and small-scale farming.

He and Pam have three sons: Reed, 21; Mac, 18; and Grayson, 16.

Before establishing the Smith Family Gravy Boat Fund, the Smiths donated $250,000 in 2014 to support the SFA’s Smith Symposium Fellows program, which invites individuals whose work promises a positive impact on the South to be guests at the SFA’s fall symposium.

Brook Smith trusts his gift will boost operating funds, enabling the organization to better document, study and explore the diverse food cultures of the American South.

“Food starts conversations,” he said “You get into who makes it and where the products come from. It’s an ice breaker.

“People talk about the weather, but talking about barbecue is a lot more interesting.”

Private gifts are crucial to the university’s well-being and especially to programs such as the SFA, which depend on donor support to operate, UM Chancellor Jeffrey Vitter said.

“We are tremendously grateful to receive generous donations, especially from such passionate supporters as the Smiths,” Vitter said. “It speaks to the impact of our university programs, not just in the state, but across the country and around the world.

“The Smiths’ gift will ensure that many more people will be enriched by the SFA for years to come. These kinds of contributions are a vital part of our university’s sustained growth, reach, impact and success.”

Individuals and organizations can make gifts to support the Southern Foodways Alliance or the Center for the Study of Southern Culture by mailing a check with the endowment noted to the University of Mississippi Foundation, 406 University Ave., Oxford, MS 38655; visiting http://www.umfoundation.com/makeagift or contacting Nikki Neely Davis, development officer for the CSSC at 662-915-6678 or nlneely@olemiss.edu.

Download “Gravy” for free from the iTunes store and the SFA website. For more information, visit http://www.southernfoodways.org and follow on Twitter @Potlikker.

Former UM Director Receives Arts Commission Lifetime Achievement Award

Bill Ferris to be honored at 2017 Governor's Arts Awards

Bill Ferris (left) looks over a copy of Living Blues magazine with blues great B.B. King during a visit by King to the University of Mississippi in the 1980s, when Ferris was director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Photo by Robert Jordan/Ole Miss Communications

OXFORD, Miss. – William R. Ferris, the preeminent scholar and documenter of Mississippi’s rich culture, music and folklore, has been documenting the lives of Mississippians for more than 50 years. On Feb. 16, the Mississippi Arts Commission will honor him with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 Governor’s Arts Awards.

Ferris is a scholar, author, documentary filmmaker and founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. For him, the award is linked to the center in a deep and wonderful way, as well as to the Oxford community.

“It’s a tremendous honor, and I know it would never have happened without the work I was blessed to do at the University of Mississippi and at the center,” Ferris said. “It was a special period in my life that connected me to Mississippi in ways that were very special and very moving, and I know full well that the friendships I was able to share there are a big part of why I was selected for this honor.”

The award is an opportunity to look back and appreciate more deeply what one’s life’s work represents, since in the moment, totally engaged and working, it can be difficult to see where things will land, said Ferris, who was on the Ole Miss faculty from 1979 to 1998.

Southern studies students are leading various areas in new and exciting ways, said Ferris, who keeps up with the program’s students and alumni.

“I look around the state, the region and the nation and know there are powerful voices that were shaped at the center and by the Southern studies program,” he said.

Ferris grew up on a farm south of Vicksburg and developed an early love of storytelling, books, art and music. In 1997, he became chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Bill Clinton.

Since 2002, he has served as Joel Williamson Eminent Professor of History and senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina.

The 2017 recipients will be recognized at the 29th annual Governor’s Arts Awards ceremony at the Old Capitol Museum in downtown Jackson at 6 p.m. Thursday (Feb. 16). A public reception at 4:30 precedes the awards.

“When I first found myself out in the cultural landscape of Mississippi’s vast richness, Bill was already there, established and knee-deep in the exploration of art and culture,” said Malcolm White, executive director of MAC. “Bill is a pathfinder and an icon of this work, and I am proud to be at the helm of MAC on this occasion of his recognition.”

Other award recipients include Sammy Britt (MFA art ’66), Excellence in Visual Art; Vasti Jackson, Arts Ambassador; Lucy Richardson Janoush, Arts Patron; Jaimoe Johnie Johnson, Excellence in Music; and the Mississippi Opera, Artistic Excellence.

“Because these six recipients have made a significant and lasting impact on our state’s arts culture, it is fitting to recognize them during Mississippi’s bicentennial celebration,” White said.

Ferris is the author of 10 books, including “Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues” (University of North Carolina Press, 2009), “You Live and Learn. Then You Die and Forget it All: Ray Lum’s Tales of Horses, Mules, and Men” (Anchor Books, 1992) and his latest, “The South in Color: A Visual Journey” (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

He is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities and France’s Chevalier and Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters. The Blues Hall of Fame recognized his book “Blues from the Delta” (Anchor Press, 1978) as one of the classics of blues literature.

Established in 1988, Governor’s Arts Awards are given to individuals and organizations for the excellence of their work in a wide variety of art forms including visual, literary and performing arts, and community development through the arts in Mississippi.

UM Professor to Receive Mississippi Humanities Council Honor

Jodi Skipper to be given Humanities Scholar Award Feb. 10 in Jackson

Jodi Skipper

OXFORD, Miss. – A University of Mississippi anthropology and Southern studies professor is among five people being honored this month by the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Jodi Skipper will receive the Humanities Scholar Award on Feb. 10 during the council’s 2017 Public Humanities Awards program in Jackson. The agency recognizes outstanding contributions by Mississippians to the study and understanding of the humanities.

“I was first surprised, and then pleased, by the news,” said Skipper, an assistant professor. “The MHC Humanities Scholar Award uniquely recognizes my work with local communities.

“As academicians, our value is largely associated with research and teaching, with community engagement and service often undervalued. The MHC recognizes the significance of public humanities work to academic scholarship.”

A public anthropologist who thinks through how to represent difficult pasts in the present, Skipper specifically addresses the underrepresentation of enslaved communities at historic sites in the South. Her research prioritizes collaboration with communities seeking to address these issues at local levels.

“I was selected to receive this award in recognition of my involvement with the ‘Behind the Big House’ program, a slave dwelling interpretation program started by Jenifer Eggleston and Chelius Carter in Holly Springs,” she said. “I have been privileged enough to help with their project, which interprets the lives of enslaved persons through the homes in which they once lived.”

The program is the only one in the country established with that specific purpose.

“My future goal is to help develop this program as a model for other sites in the state and beyond,” Skipper said.

UM administrators congratulated Skipper on her honor.

UM anthropology and Southern studies professor Jodi Skipper (center) works with the ‘Behind the Big House’ program in Holly Springs. Submitted photo

“Jodi Skipper is a multitalented scholar who brings the skills of an archaeologist, ethnographer and public historian to her work,” said Kirsten Dellinger, chair and associate professor of sociology and anthropology. “Her focus on developing programming and research projects that keep community members’ interests ‘front and center’ represents the kind of rigorous publicly engaged scholarship our department is eager to support.

“She is a leader in this field and we are thrilled that the MHC has recognized her with this prestigious award.”

Ted Ownby, director of UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture and professor of history, concurred with Dellinger.

“She designed a Southern studies class about the politics of cultural tourism in the South, and students in that class both read theoretical and descriptive work about tourism and its meanings, and then they go out and talk to people involved in thinking about history and how to present it to the public,” Ownby said. “It’s that kind of innovation that helped earn her the humanities award, and I’m very excited for her.”

Skipper joined the UM faculty in 2011. Besides teaching introductory courses in anthropology and Southern studies, she also leads courses on historical archaeology, African diaspora studies, Southern heritage and tourism.

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Skipper earned her bachelor’s degree in history from Grambling State University, a master’s in anthropology from Florida State University and a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Texas. Before coming to UM, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of South Carolina Institute for Southern Studies.

Other MHC honorees and their awards are Peggy Prenshaw of Jackson, the Cora Norman Award; Richard Grant of Jackson, Preserver of Mississippi Culture Award; Museum of the Mississippi Delta in Greenwood, Humanities Partner Award; and David Morgan of Bay St. Louis, Humanities Educator Award.

Twenty-nine recipients of the 2016 Humanities Teacher Awards, including UM modern languages professor John Gutierrez, also will be honored at the event. A ceremony and reception begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Old Capitol Museum in Jackson.

Tickets for the MHC Public Humanities Awards ceremony are $50 each and may be purchased by sending a check to the Mississippi Humanities Council, 3825 Ridgewood Road, Room 317, Jackson, MS 39211, or online at http://www.mshumanities.org/index.php/programs/awards.

For more information about the UM Department of Sociology and Anthropology, visit http://socanth.olemiss.edu. For more about the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, go to http://southernstudies.olemiss.edu.

UM Food Day Celebration Features Day of Service, Pop-Up Market, More

Events scheduled throughout October to educate and get community involved

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OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi will observe Food Day, a nationwide celebration that focuses on the importance of improving American diets and food policies, throughout October.

Food Day events commence with a composting workshop hosted by Sustainable Oxford at 6 p.m. Monday (Oct. 3) at the Powerhouse Community Arts Center.

Campus events kick off on Thursday (Oct. 6) with the Office of Sustainability’s sixth annual Food Day Festival on the Union Plaza, highlighting food-related resources in Oxford. Set for noon-3:30 p.m., the festival features a farmers market, food samples, educational displays and other activities.

“Through Food Day, the Office of Sustainability aims to engage more people in a topic that involves us all: how we are fed,” said Kendall McDonald, sustainability fellow in the Office of Sustainability. “By empowering university members to be local food heroes through education and service learning, we believe a just, inclusive and resilient food system is possible.”

This year, Food Day will incorporate a service component through the Food Day of Service, a half-day event on Oct. 22. During Food Day of Service, volunteers will complete projects affiliated with local school and community gardens and the UM Compost Program.

Food Day of Service volunteer sites include gardens at the Boys and Girls Club, Oxford School District and Lafayette County Schools, plus the Oxford Community Garden and the UM Compost Program site. Volunteers will meet at 9 a.m. in the Ole Miss Student Union ballroom for a kickoff ceremony before traveling to the sites. Register to join Food Day of Service here.

On Oct. 25, the Office of Sustainability will host a screening of the film “Food Chains,” followed by a guided discussion led by Catarina Passidomo, UM assistant professor of Southern studies and anthropology. The screening is set for 7 p.m. at Shelter on Van Buren.

The film examines the human cost of America’s food system through the lens of tomato pickers in southern Florida, who work from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., earning just $40 a day – a price dictated by large supermarkets.

“Many of us don’t have a good understanding of labor abuses in the food system or an appreciation for the people whose labor remains relatively invisible,” Passidomo said. “I hope that people will come away from the film with a better and deeper understanding of the politics and processes that underlie our contemporary food system.”

On Oct. 26, a pop-up farmers market in the parking lot of the Oxford Intermediate School will wrap up Food Day activities. The market runs from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

This year’s Food Day celebration also incorporates educational events for community children, including an activity Oct. 15 at the UM Museum’s Family Activity Day and a scavenger hunt activity for children affiliated with the Boys and Girls Club that will take place during the pop-up farmers market.

“Studies show that introducing children to the process of healthy foods will increase their consumption of these foods,” said Denae Bradley, AmeriCorps VISTA in the Office of Sustainability. “During the pop-up market, children at the Boys and Girls Club will participate in a scavenger hunt, where they will engage with local vendors by asking them questions about their product, as well as try new foods that they may have never tasted before.”

The Food Day activities are organized by the UM Office of Sustainability in partnership with Sustainable Oxford. To learn more about sustainability at UM, visit http://green.olemiss.edu/.