The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has awarded a $2,060 grant to Missouri State University-West Plains to support the ninth annual Ozarks Studies Symposium, set for Sept. 18-19 at the West Plains Civic Center.
The MHC is the only statewide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages. It has served as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971.
"The symposium committee is delighted to be working with the Missouri Humanities Council this year," said Dr. Phil Howerton, assistant professor of English and symposium coordinator. "This grant allows us to attract the most respected scholars and experts in the field of Ozarks studies and to provide a quality program that explores a variety of topics. "
The theme of this year's event is "The Lure of the Ozarks," Howerton said. It will feature presentations by more than 20 scholars, writers, artists and musicians who will explore such topics as anti-Semitism in the Ozarks; recent archaeological finds in the region; the career of illustrator, artist and writer Rose Cecil O'Neill, creator of popular Kewpie comic characters; the exclusion of the Ozarks from the literary canon; African Diaspora in the Ozarks; a commune established by the Dan Blocker Singers; the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s; the career of folklorist Vance Rudolph; among others.
The keynote address will be given by Dr. Steve Wiegenstein, associate dean for academic affairs and dean 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.
The annual Ozarks Studies Symposium reflects Missouri State-West Plains' commitment to serve as a link between the predominantly rural region it serves and the world of higher education and scholarship, facilitating communication between these two communities and fostering a mutually beneficial relationship between them, Howerton explained.
Additional funding will be provided by the Missouri State-West Plains academic affairs office, the West Plains Council on the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. All presentations are free and everyone is welcome to attend, Howerton said.
For more information about the symposium, visit http://ozarksymposium.wp.missouristate.edu/. For more information about the MHC grants program, call 314-781-9660 or 1-800-357-0909, or write to the MHC, 543 Hanley Industrial Court, Suite 205, St. Louis, MO63144-1905.