Presenters, Titles and/or Abstracts from the 2016 Missouri Folklore Society meeting:
Papers, Readings, Presentations
(Not all participants’ abstracts were available at press time.)
Cara Alexander, Missouri House of Representatives. (See also Sean Alexandria Roberts and LuAnne Roth.)
Alexander leads and presents within this specialized session Close Encounters with the Paranormal in Missouri (& beyond). At the end of the 19th century, people predicted that the world would enter a period of enlightenment. As technology developed, and humans conquered problems through science, we would reject “superstitions” in favor of scientific reason. This prediction was grossly inaccurate. The presenters on this panel explore contemporary reports of hauntings and the paranormal. The first presenter, Sean Roberts, describes legend trips seeking close encounters with the “spook lights” of Joplin, MO. The second, Cara Alexander, examines stories of a ghostly woman in a red rocking chair who foreshadows death for nursing home residents in Linn, MO. The last presenter, LuAnne Roth, compares cinematic haunting narratives with those of students. Together, the presenters on this panel interrogate the performance and cultural meaning of paranormal legends in context.
Alexander’s paper, “A Haunting in Osage County: The Angel Of Death Revisited,” tells of a local nursing home in Linn, MO, that has fostered an interesting legend complex including intrigue, ghosts, and death. A visit from a woman in a red rocking chair, wearing a white dress, is the foreshadowing sign of death for the residents living with dementia. The structure of this legend is very reminiscent of an Angel of Death complex. People often associate haunting with fear, anxiety, and panic, but in this oral narrative, we have an example of a haunting that brings comfort and familiarity. Although the lady in the white dress with the red rocker brings death, she also brings comfort to those left behind, as well as a sense of familiarity for residents who have already lost so much.
Elaine Aubuchon, Truman State University and Faith Lutheran School. “Folkdance Fun for Everyone!” This session is for anyone of any age and ability to come together and share in the joy of folk dancing. All dances are simple and will be taught and learned quickly so we can share in the communal joy of music making and dancing. No spectators, please. Only participants!
Beach, Kay, Kirksville, MO (with Rose Marie Smith and Andrea O'Brien). “Hands of Friendship Quilters Guild Trunk Show.” We talk about the history of quilting, our life adventures in quilting, and the newer adaptations of this traditional art form. We use an abundance of quilts to illustrate our points.
Bokulaka, St. Louis, MO. “African Drum and Dance Class.” Chief Bokulaka is an accomplished world traveler, artist, storyteller, and performer. He shares the culture of Central Africa through dance, songs, and stories. Attendees will learn to dance vibrant Soukous dances and feel the pulse of drumming styles from Bokulaka’s home country, the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Linda Colton, Leawood, KS. "History Woven into Baskets." From the time of the earliest cultures and on down through the history of our country, handwoven baskets have played an important role in everyday life.
Allison Cundiff, Lindenwood University in St. Louis, Parkway Schools. “Readings from Otherings and In Short, A Memory of the Other on a Good Day.” These two collections of poems by the St. Louis teacher and poet, capture some of her experiences as she grows up in Climax Springs, Missouri, and then as she extends her reach out into the world at large. The poems gathered here are expressions of wonder and wisdom, love and heartbreak, close encounters with death and the blossoming of new life in birth. The poems are accompanied by photographs taken by Allison and her friends, adding graphic reinforcements to her musings in words.
Neal Delmonico, Blazing Sapphire Press, Kirksville. “Dogs for Dinner: Dogs and Food in Sac and Fox and Ancient Vedic Cultures.” This paper explores the sacred position of dogs as providers of power and food in two native cultures widely separated in space and time, that of the Sac and Fox Indians of Iowa-Missouri-Oklahoma and that of ancient Vedic India as preserved in the Chandogya Upanisad of the singer-sages of the Sama Veda.
Sarah Denton, community scholar, MFAP (Missouri Folk Arts Program). “Sink or Swim.” Attending twenty-six schools in thirteen states spanning eight years during the 1960’s as a pipeliner’s daughter, I offer this glimpse into the unique social structure of pipeline community and the nomadic life our family led as we moved along pipeline routes. With his sink or swim attitude Kenneth Blevins joined the ongoing Ozark outmigration in 1960. After his first grueling day of work on the pipeline, he recognized the burgeoning economic possibilities now open to him that changed our lives forever.
Lewis N. Dunham, Truman State University. "Folklore of Coming Out Stories." Dunham presents a structural and functional analysis of coming out stories of LGBT+ college students.
Lisa Erhart, Missouri State University. "Folk Music: There's More than Tradition." An examination of how contemporary local music both reflects and influences the modern folklore of an area. This particular presentation focuses specifically on the local music scene in Springfield, Missouri and surrounding areas. The presentation discusses how traditional Ozarkian folk music has been modernized to contemporary music standards, and what this could mean for the future of folk music study.
Carol Fisher, Kennett, MO. “’Fair Mania’: The Great Civil War Sanitary Fairs in the North.” “Fair Mania” swept across the North as the Civil War progressed. Men and women worked at home to provide, among other items, hospital supplies and special food items for soldiers on the battlefields and in military hospitals. What started out as family and friends sending simple items such as jars of jellies, cakes and meats evolved into a collection network that became the great festive Civil War Sanitary Fairs. According to Beverly Gordan, these grand events, located in several large cities, raised over five million dollars – a sum she estimated in 1998 would be about seventy five million. All but one of the great Sanitary Fairs were connected with the U.S. Sanitary Commission. The great Mississippi Valley Sanitary Fair, held in St. Louis, was organized by the Western Sanitary Commission. Fisher’s discussion will focus on this fair.
John C. Fisher, Kennett, MO. “Anvil Firing: Revival of an Old Tradition.” A look at an old celebratory tradition that nearly vanished but is now seeing renewed interest.
Leyda Flores, Kirksville, MO. “Making Pupusas—El Salvador's National Dish.” Flores will demonstrate the making of pupusas, a traditional food made of cornmeal dough, and stuffed with a variety of spiced vegetables, cheeses, meats.
Axel Fuentes, Kirksville, MO. “Three Guatemalan Dances.” Fuentes explains the symbols incorporated into three traditional Guatemalan dances. He joins with seven other dancers from the Milan Rural Community Workers Alliance to demonstrate the costumes, sounds, and movements of each dance.
Annie Fuller, Kirkwood, MO (with Meredith Rau). "Lies about Lye Soap: Exploring Soap-making Past & Present." Explore the folklore and history of lye soap and soap-making while learning more about the process itself.
Rachel Gholson, Missouri State University. “Christmas Symbolism: From Trees to Black Peter, A Merry Conversation.” An inside look at the importance of symbols, their use and meaning for individuals and communities. The focus will be on two specific Christmas displays at Missouri State University in 2007. One Christmas tree was removed from public display for several days and then replaced with a winter holiday display. Across campus, another was a gift from secretaries to their department and prompted an intriguing discussion of symbols and their meanings.
Laura Hastings, University of Missouri, St. Louis (with Elizabeth Miller). “Murder Ballads of Missouri.” Much as people are drawn to crime scenes, true crime novels and television shows, and podcasts about murder, there is a long-standing folk tradition of writing songs about murders. In this panel, we will examine that tradition using murder ballads of Missouri and the stories that inspired them, situating these songs in the shared cultural memory surrounding the murders and getting at what inspires people to mix murder and music.
Jason Haxton – Director, A.T. Still University Museum. “The Dibbuk Box - Jewish Mysticism and Hollywood Collide at Kirksville!” Dibbuk Box as an artifact - Kirksville local Harry H. Laughlin and Hitler - Hollywood's fascination! Presentation explains how a simple Jewish Prayer Box connects Kirksville to the Holocaust and in turn became a hundred million dollar box office success for Lionsgate Pictures. It is all too weird to be false. Questions encouraged.
Jerrold Hirsch, Department of History, Truman State University. “Pete Seeger, Internet Eulogies, and His Folk Community.” “This paper will examine the internet Pete Seeger obituaries and eulogies and the making of a folk legend and his folk community.”
Phillip Howerton, Missouri State University-West Plains. “The History of Tree Roots: Poems, Photographs, and Artifacts.” These poems engage several elements of Ozarks folklore and explore a number of themes related to rural lifestyles of the past.
Allison Kelly, Truman State University. “The University Swingers Do Swing Dancing.” Members of Truman's University Swingers demonstrate the art of swing dancing.
Dave holds a master's degree in English from Indiana State University and currently teaches composition and film at Missouri State University-West Plains.
Mariah Marsden, University of Missouri-Kansas City. "The Three Stages of Ritual: An Ozark Storyteller and Creative Nonfiction.” Excerpts from a creative nonfiction piece exploring the material and imaginative elements of rural life in southwestern Missouri. Marsden examines the narrative practices of a modern Ozark storyteller, using ritual stages to explore how these stories have shaped a family’s perception of land, history and heritage.
Howard Marshall, Fulton & Columbia. “Themes in Traditional Violin Music.” (Session chair. See Scherer and Shewmaker.) There are many elements in today’s “fiddle scene” that are grounded in history and custom. Two of these elements that continue to be vital in Missouri are the old-time-style Saturday-night basket dinner and dance (which many people consider moribund); and the young person committed to learning to make and repair violins through the time-honored path of apprenticeship. The session will welcome two new faces to the MFS program, Richard Shewmaker (Columbia and Kirksville) and Will Scherer (Columbia).
Patrick McGlasson, Eldred, IL. “Dividing the Delta: How Geographic Terminology Still Divides the Deep South.” This paper looks at the de facto segregation of towns in the Mississippi Delta with particular interest in how it affects the language of the communities. For nearly 150 years the Mississippi Delta has been a segregated place. The clearest example of this are the railroad tracks that ran through the center of most Delta towns. The majority of these have long since been torn up and replaced with walking paths, but for many citizens they still serve as a line demarking the segregation that has withstood the test of time here.
Dave Malone, West Plains, MO. Author of two novels, a play, and seven books of poetry, Malone selects poems related to Ozark folklore for this reading.
Elizabeth Miller, University of Missouri, St. Louis. “Murder Ballads of Missouri” (with Laura Hastings). Much as people are drawn to crime scenes, true crime novels and television shows, and podcasts about murder, there is a long-standing folk tradition of writing songs about murders. In this panel, we will examine that tradition using murder ballads of Missouri and the stories that inspired them, situating these songs in the shared cultural memory surrounding the murders and getting at what inspires people to mix murder and music.
Celeste Nyemba, Kirksville, MO. “Congolese Cuisine.” What is special about Congolese cooking? What tastes are prized? There is much to learn.
O'Brien, Andrea, Kirksville, MO (with Rose Marie Smith and Kay Beach). “Hands of Friendship Quilters Guild Trunk Show.” We talk about the history of quilting, our life adventures in quilting, and the newer adaptations of this traditional art form. We use an abundance of quilts to illustrate our points.
Paul Parker, Truman State University. “Outside-In: The Metal Work of Bob Smithy and the Mental Work of Robert Smith.” A discussion of several works collected from two Missouri self-taught artists.
Meredith Rau, Historic Daniel Boone Home (with Annie Fuller). "Lies about Lye Soap: Exploring Soap-making Past & Present." Explore the folklore and history of lye soap and soap-making while learning more about the process itself.
Marc Rice, Truman State University. “Representations of Minstrelsy in the Black Missouri Press.” The topic of minstrelsy is covered in the black press of Kansas City from the turn of the century to the 1930s. I was always curious about African American reactions to stage shows featuring folks in black face. A chapter in a book written during a recent sabbatical.
Priscilla Riggle, Truman State University. “Online Fanfiction Communities and Theory of Fic-Gate.” Internet fanfiction communities intentionally create and preserve a strong sense of camaraderie and positive reinforcement for all fannish behavior. In the context of fanfiction, this means that even stories that wouldn’t be considered especially well-written by conventional literary standards may receive hundreds of positive responses.
When a student-run fanfiction course at UC-Berkeley last year assigned students to post online critiques of fanfiction, the authors of these works and their readers were so dismayed that one Tumblr post outing the students for not being “real fans” generated nearly 10,000 reblogs and comments. The incident came to be known as “Theory of Fic Gate.”
Studying fanfiction has much to teach us about communal amateur art-making and sharing. However, a respectful, ethical approach to fanfiction paces is not easy to craft; my talk will explore whether and to what extent we can responsibly approach internet fanfiction communities as folklorists.
Sean Alexandria Roberts, University of Missouri. “The Spook Light: An Unexplained Light Phenomenon.” (See Cara Alexander for session description.) The Joplin Lights have fascinated and frightened locals of southwest Missouri for years. Often referred to as “spook lights” (orbs of light in isolated areas), the rare phenomenon tends to occur at night and in quiet situations. Explanations for the lights vary based on the culture in which they exist. In this paper, I describe people engaging in legend tripping to see the lights and a variety of different explanations offered for the phenomenon, whether ghosts, dragons, or aliens, and discuss how most cultures are inclined to believe the explanation of the phenomenon as something of supernatural origin (aka cultural source hypotheses). I then parallel some of this information with broader commonalities spook lights have with general ghost legends, detailing what scientists have to say on the subject.
Brett Rogers, William Woods University. “The Last Shotgun in Glasgow.” The Last Shotgun in Glasgow--A Tale of Vanishing Culture. On a hill in the southeast corner of Glasgow, Missouri, stands a shotgun house built in the early 1920s by Homer Vivian, the son of local slaves. Long abandoned and beyond recovery, the dwelling is one of only a handful shotgun houses that have survived in the region, a dilapidated remnant of a once vibrant African American community. As a vernacular type, the shotgun house is a Southern transplant, its origins traceable to the Caribbean and the black South, moving northward in the early decades of the twentieth century, everywhere a symbol for black marginality. Although the shotgun house manifested in relatively profuse numbers in cities like St. Louis with its narrow, constrictive plan and porch conducive to tight rows and communal focus, it soon became a part of the architectural vocabulary of small-town Missouri as well. With the demise of both urban and rural black communities in the last half-century, shotguns have all but disappeared from Missouri’s architectural landscape. The Homer Vivian house is the last shotgun in the city of Glasgow, one of only two known examples in the county, and one of no more than about three dozen still standing in a roughly sixteen-county area of central and east-central Missouri. But beyond its rarity and architectural significance, the Vivian house tells the story of a single African-American family and a lost community.
Scott Rossi, Missouri State University. “Medic! A Brief Ethnography of Street and Protest Medics.” Examination of Street Medics as a folk group that originated during the civil rights era and which has seen a contemporary revival with the recent Occupy and Black Lives Matter sustained protest movements. Future avenue of research on the People's Community Medics model, where primarily black women kept Civil Rights era Street Medic techniques as a living folklore community from post-Vietnam protests to 1999 WTO Seattle protests where Street and Protest Medics saw large revival. Survey of common Street Medic techniques including LAW (Liquid Antacid + Water) treatment for tear gas and pepper spray, as well as Emotional First Aid as a Post Traumatic Incident intervention. Description of Street Medic uniforms and codes of behavior. Description of Bay Area Radical Health Collective, a model Street Medic Affinity Group.
LuAnne Roth, University of Missouri. “‘I don’t believe in ghosts, but I have had some unexplainable experiences’: Finding Meaning in the Context of Performance.” (See Cara Alexander for session description.) According to Bill Ellis, one-fifth of Americans have experienced paranormal events (2001). Stories about their experiences are best not seen as just “texts,” but as processes, strategies of naming marginal experiences. This presentation compares haunting narratives in select films (The Others, The Sixth Sense, The Awakening, The Conjuring) with those reported by students in my American folklore courses. Through an examination of the performative elements of these narratives—which invite interpretation, exploration, debate, and discussion—I attend in particular to the self-conscious negotiation of belief. As such, I argue that the cultural meaning of paranormal legends can only be found in the context of their performance.
Jana Russon, Goldsberry, MO. "'Comments on Life in Rural Missouri': A Blog." Russon will select, project, and read a few of her more folklorish blog post pieces.
Steve Salt, Green Valley Farm, Kirksville. "Bitter Melons and Cleopatra's Beauty Secret: Heritage, Ethnicity and Vegetables in Missouri." Distinctive foods and foodways are some of the most enduring characteristics of ethnic heritage. This presentation will explore a potpourri of vegetables grown in Missouri that represent the diverse ethnicities present in the state, ranging from Native Americans and early nineteenth century Irish and German settlers through recent Middle Eastern and Central African arrivals.
Will Scherer, Columbia MO. "The Path to Becoming a Violin Maker." (See Howard Marshall.) We live in an automated world where factories produce the majority of “things” we use and consume and yet there is still a demand for hand crafted violins. The craft of violin making can be traced back almost 400 years and remains virtually unchanged. Violins are valued as objects and honored in our collective memory as magical instruments. They sing songs, show us how to dance and love to hide out in our closets or attics. Having recently participated in the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program to apprentice with violin-maker Tom Verdot in Columbia, I think a great deal about these ideals as well as craftsmanship and the long journey toward perfection. The path to becoming a violinmaker has required that I shift my understanding of what it means to make something. It’s been a transformation in thought as well as routine. Like many of fiddle tunes, violin making is very much a live traditional art passed from person to person. Our world is built around consumption, mass production and automation; quick turn-arounds and outcomes. In contrast, as I slowly develop skills and expertise using 400 year old tools and techniques I realize I’m not learning to make a violin; I’m learning to make my first. Throughout the presentation, I will be discussing some of the tools and techniques which are used in violin making, repair and restoration. Most importantly, I will encourage the panel and audience to join the conversation.
George Schramm, University of Missouri. “Cooking Up the Feels with Chef: An Analysis of the Cultural, Familial, and Sexual Functions of Food in Jon Favreau’s 2014 film.” Through his 2014 film Chef, Jon Favreau brought to the screen a late-in-life, coming-of-age tale that is dominated through Cuban-inspired foods. The film follows the story of a chef. After losing his wife and his restaurant job, he starts his own business and, in doing so, ends up growing closer to his family. Throughout the film, food serves as a catalyst that facilitates communication, admiration, and reconciliation. Food takes the place of sex between coworkers, it represents change through having to adapt and it represents connectivity with people.
Bruce Scovill, Lincoln University. “Uncovering Itinerant Folk Art in Ralls County.” Discusses the Bell-Blatty mural and whether a second painting is still intact behind the sheetrock of another home.
Antonio Scuderi, Truman State University. “Building a Breadboard Psaltery (Zither) on the Cheap." An Italianist with interests in music and folklore, Scuderi takes the audience through the process of making (and playing) a zither from found materials, including pitfalls and lessons learned.
Justin Semahoro, St. Louis, MO. “Plenary Session on African Arts and Culture.” (See Yampanya and Bokulaka.) A frequent speaker on human rights issues, he was born and raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo. He is a leader of the Banymulenge community and speaks of his first hand experiences as a stateless person.
Stephen Shapiro, Rutledge, MO. “Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage.” Sustainable living in this folk community.
Richard Shewmaker, Kirksville MO. "Hallsville: Conserving Traditional Missouri Music and Dance." (See Howard Marshall.) As one of the few remaining locations for traditional Missouri fiddle music and square dancing today, the once-a-month gathering in Hallsville, Missouri (northern Boone County), stands as a unique opportunity for beginners to become immersed in traditional music and dance. The jam session, pot-luck dinner, and square dance layout to the event allows for the building of a community of dancers and musicians, and often times brings in a mix of social groups. Although, in the face of bluegrass and Texas “contest style” fiddling, as well as mainstream country music, traditional Missouri fiddling and dancing has deteriorated, and the community at Hallsville has struggled to rekindle the fire of tradition. This research will investigate how Hallsville began, its unique community, and how it has shaped and continues to shape the new tradition bearers of old-time music and dance.
John Smelcer, Kirksville, MO. "Finding Thomas Merton" In the summer of 2015, Kirksville member of the Missouri Folklore Society John Smelcer was given custody of the worldly possessions of Thomas Merton—objects which had been preserved for decades by an ex-nun in Kansas City. Merton was one of the most influential thinkers, philosophers, writers, poets, mystics, and social rights and peace activists of the 20th century. He helped inform Martin Luther King, Jr. how to practice non-violent protest. Along with the Berrigan Brothers, Merton was one of the most vocal critics of the war in Vietnam. Lawrence Ferlinghetti included Merton’s poems in a proto-Beat anthology with Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. His writing influenced the Beats, Bob Dylan, and even the Beatles. In his September 24, 2015 address to the US Congress, Pope Francis mentioned Merton eight times, calling him one of the greatest Americans, alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., Dorothy Day, and Abraham Lincoln. The relics/objects have been donated to the Smithsonian Museum of American History, the Vatican, and Thomas Merton Center in Louisville, KY. Hear the incredible story.
Rose Marie Smith, Kirksville, MO (with Kay Beach and Andrea O'Brien). “Hands of Friendship Quilters Guild Trunk Show.” We talk about the history of quilting, our life adventures in quilting, and the newer adaptations of this traditional art form, using an abundance of quilts to illustrate our points.
Ryan Spearman, St. Louis, MO. "Green Strum: Sustainable Traditions in Folk Instrument Building." A brief introduction to the use of sustainably-built instruments in folk music traditions followed by a hands-on demonstration of stringed instruments built from recycled and repurposed materials.
Lonny Thiele, Poplar Bluff, MO. “Mules in the Mud.” Narratives of the men and women who farmed the Bootheel with mules, prior to the 1950s.
Jim Vandergriff, Tucson, AZ. "Learning to Be, or Granny Lied." A study of how folklore – in this case stories -- helps acculturate us. It looks at several stories, purported to be truthful, told to the author by his great grandmother and other family members, which taught him, as a child, how to believe and act. Recounted as truth, many of the stories have a basis in fact, but often have proved to be less than completely factual. The presentation is formatted as a video.
Michael Walden, University of Missouri. “All Aboard the ‘Chew Chew’ Train: A Look at Food and Character Development in the Film Snowpiercer.” Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho 2013) is a dystopian science fiction film set in the not-so-distant future. The story begins after the world is destroyed from attempts to counteract global warming, creating perpetual winter that kills all life on the planet except for a lucky few who board a massive luxury train. Powered by a perpetual-motion engine (“the eternal engine”), the closed ecological system on the train travels continuously around the globe. Not surprisingly, a class system is established, with elites inhabiting the front of the train (where they enjoy a life of luxury and leisure), and the poor inhabiting the tail (where they are forced to eat filth). As the film comments on climate change and humans’ destructive behavior, food is central to the plot and becomes the ultimate metaphor for the train’s social structure on both micro and macro levels. Food also serves an important role in the protagonist’s development and his realization of the true nature and power structure of the train.
Loretta Washington, Florissant, MO. “My Corner of the Porch.” As keynote speaker at the Thursday night dinner, master storyteller and author Loretta Washington will be reading and performing stories from My Corner of the Porch, fifteen tales about her childhood in Wardell, MO. The book is being launched on November 4 as a special issue of the Journal of the Missouri Folklore Society. It will be available for purchase and for signing.
Ken Winn, Jefferson City, MO. “Mark Twain, Joseph McDowell, and Body Snatching in Nineteenth-Century Missouri.” Nineteenth-century medical educators needed human bodies for their students to practice on, but that was illegal. The result was midnight graveyard raids, student high jinx, and intrigue. Before the Civil War Dr. Joseph McDowell was Missouri's foremost medical educator. He was also Missouri's foremost body snatcher. Mark Twain thought him both amusing and brilliant and put him in his books and stories. Others were not as amused, and riot ensued when people suspected that his ghoulish students turned to murder to obtain bodies. McDowell's college was the state's first medical school, and both Washington University and the University of Missouri of Missouri claim him as their medical school's founder. “Show Me Missouri” speaker, Kenneth Winn, is the former state archivist of Missouri. He has taught history at Washington University, the University of Missouri—Columbia, and Lincoln University. He has written on topics ranging from the breach of promise of marriage to anti-Mormon violence to the rise of unelected government bureaucrats. His most recent book is an edited work entitled, Missouri Law and the American Conscience: Historical Right and Wrongs (2016). His talk on Mark Twain and Joseph McDowell is derived from a book length interpretative study of McDowell and nineteenth century medicine.
Deloris Gray Wood, Salem MO. “Saltpeter Cave on Ashley Creek that Flows into Current River.” The MFAP (Missouri Folk Arts Program) Community Scholar and Dent County Historical Society president introduces Volume III of the Ozark Heritage Dent County Cemeteries and Families series, containing poems, photographs and maps – and a discussion of the challenges of bringing such a work to press.
Cole Woodcox, Truman State University. “The Lincoln School: Kirksville's Last Black-Only School.” Art historian and English professor Woodcox discusses the institution, open from 1914 until the Brown v Board of Education decision ended legal segregation in education.
Wyatt Wu, University of Missouri. “Dining with the Spirits: An Analysis of the Significance of Food within Spirited Away.” In the award-winning Japanese fantasy film Spirited Away (2001), written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the story’s protagonist is 10-year-old Chihiro. When Chihiro and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park, her mother and father turn into giant pigs, after they eat gluttonously from a buffet of food. While the food that appears in most scenes may be difficult for American audiences to fully comprehend, this presentation offers analysis of the social and symbolic significance of such scenes. I show that, in some cases, food is used to assimilate and befriend foreigners as well as to develop characters. In other scenes, food stands as metaphor and reveals aspects of characters, sometimes in quite literal ways.
Richard Yampanya, Kirksville, MO. “Plenary Session on African Arts.” (Session organizer. See Bokulaka and Semahoro.)
The Fairytale Lives of Russian Girls by Meg Miroshnik; Directed by Ann Acklen Brown; Sponsored by Truman State University and the Theatre Department
Characters - Actors
Masha - Julie Amuedo
Katya - Kitty Corum
Baba Yaga - Kaitlin Chotrow
Nastya - Carolyn Ticktin
Winner of the Kendeda Graduate Playwriting Competition, this dark comedy is set in 2005 post-Soviet Russia. The world is presented where women are called devushka, girl, until they are 70 and have to deal with strange occurrences just to survive. There are no such things as fairies in Russian skazka, but magic certainly exists. The show follows Anya, or Annie-like-the-orphan, as she returns to Russia for the first time since she was a child in the hopes of learning business Russian and eliminating her American accent. She lives with her aunt who is not really an aunt, Yaroslava, and meets several other devouski who teach her about Russian lives.
“I Am An American Too”: a special exhibition in the Ophelia Parrish Hall art gallery (see campus map). A collection of photographs taken by fast food workers in the Kansas City Area on exhibition in the University Art Gallery, Ophelia Parrish 1114 through Friday, December 2.. Originally shown last May in Kansas City’s Talk Shop gallery, this exhibition received national media attention (http://nyti.ms/1GDn5Ld) for capturing the everyday occurrences, the working conditions, and the common struggles of urban low-income workers as captured from their own perspective. The photographs explore major topics in our contemporary society including income inequality, race and gender discrimination, workers’ rights, and the working poor.