Okra to Opera 2: Converse Conference on Southern Culture

Okra to Opera 2: The Converse Conference on Southern Culture will take place in Spartanburg, SC on April 16 – April 19, 2014. The focus of the conference will be food and how it touches on every aspect of Southern life, from religion, to socio-economic concerns, to cultural identities, and beyond. The conference will include a variety of activities, including speakers, panel discussions, readings, and musical performances. SC Humanities supported this conference with a Mini Grant in November 2014.

The first Okra to Opera: High Culture, Low Culture, Southern Culture conference took place in April 2012 and was very successful, attracting over 350 attendees for the many programs and events. The second conference will focus exclusively on Southern foodways and their meaning in our communities. The four-day conference will be just one part of a week-long exploration and celebration of food presented by Converse College in partnership with The Johnson Collection, the Spartanburg creative writing community, and Hub City Book Shop.

The conference will include a keynote presentation on Thursday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. by Elizabeth Engelhardt, a Professor of American Studies from the University of Texas. Dr. Engelhardt is the author of Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket and A Mess of Greens: Gender and Food in Southern Culture. Other special events included on the schedule are a performance by Pot Luck, a trio of musicians and storytellers from West Virginia who explore the place of food and nurturing as it relates to culture, tradition, and gender, and a reading by celebrated author Susan Tekulve, author of the award-winning novel In The Garden of Stone.

More information about the Okra to Opera 2 Conference and other food-related events can be found on the conference website: http://www.converse.edu/academics/school-humanities-and-sciences/englishcreative-and-professional-writing/conference-souther or by contacting organizer Melissa Walker at 864-596-9104.

The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. SC Humanities programs and initiatives are balanced, reflecting sensitivity to the diversity of ideas, encourage open dialogue, demonstrate integrity, and are ethical in operations.