God In Southern Story and Song: Spirituality and Music in Literature of the American South

With musical accompaniment (songs sung with guitar accompaniment and/or CD recordings throughout the talk), Susan Ketchin explores through lively lecture, storytelling, and humor the role that southern music and religion have played in the imaginative works of great southern writers such as Lee Smith, Charles Frazier, Eudora Welty, and Lewis Nordan.  These and other outstanding writers of the American South, both past and present, such as William Faulkner and Flannery O'Connor (whose literary and cultural influences will be given as context for the contemporary writers presented) have notoriously claimed their fiction to be filled with images and explorations of the meaning of "that old-time" southern religion, Evangelical Protestantism, in all its positive and negative connotations in their own individual lives and in the culture as a whole. These authors write from the deep desire to explore and understand their complex and contradictory culture, in all its mythical, religious, and musical richness through their chosen art form, the fine art of literary storytelling. Songs will include shape-note hymns, blues, mountain ballads, and gospel tunes from black and white southern traditions, such as "Nobody Knows You (When You're Down and Out)," "Give Me the Roses While I Live," "Motherless Child," and "Barb’ry Allen."

This presentation is adaptable, according to the needs of the particular organization, in terms of which authors are treated and which songs are performed.

lectern, microphone, digital projection system, table for display, whiteboard