From Juke Joints to Jacobean Literature: Arkansas Vernaculars and the Creation of Southern Fiction

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Florence Dore, singer/songwriter and professor of English from the University of North Carolina.

What do Arkansas singers Levon Helm and Lucinda Williams have to do with Southern fiction or Shakespeare? What conduits between the juke joints that house Sonny Boy Williamson and Lead Belly and the hallowed halls of the University of Arkansas can be traced? Finally, how does vernacular music or rock and roll relate to what we think of as Southern fiction today?

Join Florence Dore at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at 6 pm Monday, Sept. 19, to find answers to these questions in a discussion that is part lecture, part reading and part song.

Dore is a singer/songwriter as well as an academic whose published works focus on the blues, rock, race in popular music, and other topics. She is the author of Novel Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll (Columbia University Press 2018) and the editor of The Ink in the Grooves: Conversations on Literature and Rock n Roll (Cornell University Press), which comes out Oct. 15.

As professor of English at the University of North Carolina, she teaches in both the creative writing and literature programs. She has held fellowships at New York University, the National Humanities Center and the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC. A member of the steering committee for Post45, a collective of scholars working on American literature and culture since 1945, Dore was also a founding co-editor for the Post45 Book Series at Stanford University Press. During the pandemic, she created and acted as co-executive producer for Cover Charge: NC Musicians Go Under Cover to Benefit Cat’s Cradle, a benefit compilation record that came in No. 1 in compilations on the Billboard charts. She has organized two public conferences on rock and literature, in 2017 at the National Humanities Center with Carolina Performing Arts and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

She sits on the advisory board for the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies at the University of Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Archive. Her second album, Highways and Rocketships (Propeller Sound Recordings) — just out in June 2022 — was produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter and features members of the legendary dB’s, Son Volt and Steve Earle’s band. She is currently touring on both Highways and Rocketships duck The Ink in the Grooves as part of her traveling public humanities program called “Ink in the Grooves Live.”

Dore will be joined by guitarist Mark Spencer of the seminal Americana band Son Volt.

This event, hosted by the Pryor Center and sponsored by the U of A Humanities Center, African and African American Studies Program, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies and Department of English, is free and open to the public.

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