Okra to Opera 3: The Converse Conference on Southern Culture

Okra to Opera 3: The Converse Conference on Southern Culture (O2O 3) will take place in Spartanburg, SC on April 8 & 9, 2016.  The focus of the conference will be how storytelling informs, shapes, and expresses Southern culture. O2O 3 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 2015.

The first conference focused on high and low culture in the South, and the second, on Southern food traditions. Both conferences were very successful, each attracting over 350 attendees for the many programs and events. This year’s conference will examine storytelling from a multitude of southern perspectives and in a multitude of narrative forms. .

“Stories are passed along through oral traditions, of course, but stories also are told in the ways families interact, the way communities function, in churches, synagogues, and other religious settings, around campfires and the dinner table,” says Dr. Anita Rose, the conference chair. “For better or worse, in our modern digital age, stories are told from a multitude of platforms. Books, television shows, and movies often tell stories about the south, and sometimes we experience them as true, sometimes we do not.”

O2O 3 will showcase both traditional and non-traditional approaches to larger scholarly questions and will provide a place for interdisciplinary and non-traditional examinations of Southern Culture. Joe Newberry, a North Carolina musician and teacher of traditional music and song, and Laurel Horton, an independent quilt researcher, writer, and editor, are the two of the featured speakers. Other special events range from music produced in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to the Southern Foodie’s “Gentrification of the Abattoir.”

For more information about the Okra to Opera 3 Conference, visit their website at: http://www.converse.edu/academics/conference-on-southern-culture.


The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 22-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

Image: By Aravind Sivaraj (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons