“Cultural Encounters in the Ozarks” is the theme of the 15th annual Ozarks Studies Symposium set for Sept. 22-24 at the West Plains Civic Center.
Hosted by Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP), the event celebrates various aspects of Ozarks culture and history through a variety of presentations and performances.
Funding is provided by the West Plains Council on the Arts (WPCA); the Department of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at MSU-WP; and Carol Silvey, West Plains. Silvey is a long-time history professor and former director of development at Missouri State-West Plains. She currently serves on the Missouri State University Board of Governors.
“The 2022 symposium theme is ‘Cultural Encounters in the Ozarks,’ and many of the presentations investigate how different people and groups interacted and clashed across the region and across time,” says Dr. Jason McCollom, associate professor of history at MSU-WP and coordinator of the symposium. “Topics cover an array of subjects, and attendees will be sure to find something that strikes their interest.
“We’ll hear about pollution and politics at Lake of the Ozarks, French culture in the Ozarks, logging, the Ozarks on television, crime and punishment, LGBTQ+ issues, African American culture, and even UFOs,” McCollom explained. “Attendees can also watch documentaries and listen to poetry and prose readings, all highlighting certain aspects of the Ozarks.”
WPCA Art Exhibit
As in past years, WPCA will sponsor an art exhibit related to the symposium’s theme beginning at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 22.
“An art exhibit titled ‘Photography Around the World,’ by photographer Bob Cunningham will be featured during the opening reception,” McCollom said. “Cunningham will present nature and landscape photos taken during his many travels, bringing a bit of ‘from away’ culture to our area in a beautiful exhibit. Cunningham’s wonderful photos will take us to places we can recognize and those we’ve only heard of.” McCollom said. “Paula Speraneo of WPCA has always been an enthusiastic supporter of the symposium and local artists, and the art show always kicks off the symposium in the best way.”
The symposium’s keynote address begins at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 23. “Dr. Blake Perkins, associate professor of history at Arkansas State University-Beebe, will draw from his book Hillbilly Hellraisers: Federal Power and Populist Defiance in the Ozarks to discuss the ways in which Ozarkers have perceived federal power and clashed with federal authorities,” McCollom said.
“Through a variety of case studies, ranging from moonshiners colliding with U.S. marshals, small farmers’ run-ins with federal agricultural officials, and rural folks resisting the military draft during the First World War, to better understand the truly local dynamics behind such explosive confrontations,” McCollom explained.
“It will also chart how major economic and social transformations in the region during the second half of the 20th century actually shaped new political attitudes about government among Ozarkers that began forming the more recent roots of today’s widespread enthusiasm for Donald Trump’s dominance of the Republican Party,” McCollom added. “We invite the public to hear Perkins’s talk and engage in Q&A afterwards.
“The keynote is also a special MSU-WP alumni event, immediately followed by drinks and food at Wages Brewery,” McCollom said. “We look forward to connecting with Grizzly alums and catching up!”
Alumni, Friends Gathering
Everyone is invited to join current and former Grizzlies and Bears from the area for a family friendly social gathering from 7:30 to 10 p.m. at Wages Brewing Company, 1382 Bill Virdon Blvd., in the East Towne Village Center in West Plains. This free event is being hosted by the MSU-WP university advancement office.
Ozark Pizza Company will be on hand to supplement Wage’s regular menu, organizers said, and registrants will receive one complimentary drink ticket. A special Ozarks Trivia event will begin at 8 p.m.
Register early at MarooNation.MissouriState.edu/Grizzlies-Bears22 to reserve your space.
For more information about the Ozarks Studies Symposium, visit OzarksSymposium.WP.MissouriState.edu.
For more information about the alumni and friends gathering, contact Katie Dudden, assistant director of donor and alumni relations, at 417-255-7750 or WPAlumni@MissouriState.edu.