Speakers Bureau Roster

Claudia Smith Brinson
C Hope Clark
Debra Conner
Suzie Parker Devoe
L. M. Drucker
Skip Eisiminger
Jennie Holton Fant
John Fowler
Nicholas Gambrell
Ginetta V. Hamilton
Jonathan Haupt
Lucy Beam Hoffman
Aliene Shields Humphries
Ann-Chadwell Humphries
Christopher Johnson
Eric J. Lapin
Len Lawson
Erin R. McCoy
Joseph McGill, Jr.
Caroline McIntyre
Patricia McNeely
SB SM (1)
Margaret Oakes
Kate Salley Palmer
Gerald Pitts
Tom Poland
Aïda Rogers
Ron Roth
Kimberly Simms
Kathryn Smith
Jacob Steere-Williams
Donald Sweeper
Alice Taylor-Colbert
Susan Tekulve
David Thompson
Nancy D. Tolson
Deno Trakas
gwagner
Melissa Walker
Donald West
Kasie Whitener
John Williams

Speakers Currently Available

Claudia Smith Brinson

Photo Credit: Kendrick Brinson, Brinson + Banks

Claudia Smith Brinson worked as a journalist for 33 years in Florida, Greece, and Columbia, SC, where she was a national columnist and writing coach for Knight-Ridder when the chain owned The State. Her reporting at The State won more than three dozen state and regional awards. The first person to win Knight Ridder’s Award of Excellence twice, she was a member of the team whose Hurricane Hugo coverage was a Pulitzer finalist. She also served as an associate editor on The State editorial board. Her short fiction awards include the O. Henry. She was named an SC Woman of Achievement by the SC Commission on Women and an SC Journalist of the Year by the SC Press Association. From 2006-2016, Brinson held the Harriet Gray Blackwell Endowed Professorship at Columbia College, where she led the Writing for Print and Digital Media program. Her papers are included in the Archiving SC Women Project, Dr. Mary Baskin Waters Collection, at SC Political Collections, USC.  “Stories of Struggle: The Clash Over Civil Rights in South Carolina,” published by USC Press, is Brinson’s decades-long investigation into and collection of the personal stories of Black civil rights activists. Brinson interviewed more than 150 activists to tell true stories of white supremacy and civil rights in South Carolina from 1940-1969. 

With the encouragement of Rev. James Myles Hinton Sr., president of the  SC Conference of Branches of the NAACP from 1941-1958, Black petitioners sued and won lawsuits challenging unequal pay for teachers, the all-white primary, no access to a law school, and segregated “separate but equal” public schools. The petitioners endured death threats and economic ruination; Hinton survived gunfire and a Ku Klux Klan abduction. With archival photos.

In 1946, Levi and Hammett Pearson asked for a public school bus for the Black rural children of Summerton, SC. White children rode and Black children walked, the white children to brick schools with indoor heat, water fountains, and toilets, the Black children to cabins with oil-drum heat, toted-in well water, and outdoor privies. The Pearsons’ small request grew into a petition challenging “separate but equal” segregated schools and then segregation itself. With archival photos.

More than 100 parents and children signed the Clarendon County petitions that led to Brown v. Board of Education and the end of legal segregation of public schools. The first petition, simply asking that “separate but equal” be equal, led to death threats, a murder, arson, and loss of jobs and homes. But the petitioners persisted. Meet Harry and Eliza Briggs, Levi and Hammett Pearson, Louis and Mary Oliver, Willie and Gardenia Stukes, and other brave parents and their children. With archival photos.

The Local Committee for Human Rights, directed by Rev. Cecil Augustus Ivory Sr. and energized by a Black worker’s expulsion from a city bus, shut down a city line through a boycott, then provided more than four years of church-sponsored, pay-what-you-can service to Black workers. So Friendship Junior College students knew just what to do after the February 1, 1960, Greensboro sit-in. Encouraged by Ivory and trained in nonviolent direct action by the SC field secretary of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Friendship Junior College students held South Carolina’s first sit-on February 12, 1960. Meet Ivory and the fervent young protesters. With archival photos.

James T. McCain, fired as a school principal for NAACP membership, became the first Black and Southern field secretary for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). The training he provided South Carolina’s Black college students enabled them to meet beatings, fire hose spray, and tear gas in Rock Hill, Orangeburg, and Sumter with satyagraha, sometimes translated as “soul power.” With archival photos.

In December 1967, five Black women walked away from their assignments at Medical College Hospital (MCH) when ordered to violate their LPN licensing limits. The hospital segregated restrooms, cafeterias, and mental-health treatment, and did not provide Black doctors or training programs for Black workers, despite the 1964 Civil Rights Act. With the help of Local 1199B organizers and the SCLC, eager to reclaim its power after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 400 Black women went on strike for much of 1969. With archival photos.

South Carolina’s constitution required “Separate schools shall be provided for children of the white and colored races, and no child of either race shall ever be permitted to attend a school provided for children of the other race.” Fewer than 5,000 Black South Carolinians were registered to vote, thanks to poll taxes, property ownership requirements, and the all-white primary. Into this history stepped George Elmore of Columbia and David Brown of Beaufort, suing for the right to vote in the 1940s; and Black parents of Clarendon County, suing for desegregated schools in the 1950s. What has changed? What lingers? What is resurrected? With archival photos.

For Stories of Struggle, I interviewed at least 150 Black activists over many years while working as a journalist and college lecturer. Among my goals were preserving the Black elders’ experiences, which would be lost upon their deaths, and, through their stories, revealing a more accurate depiction of white supremacy in South Carolina, a state whose white leaders shaped a myth of “moderation.” With archival photos.

C. Hope Clark

Hope Clark spends her days aiding writers through her FundsforWriters.com website and her evenings writing mysteries, with an emphasis on South Carolina settings. She is author of three mystery series (15 books) set in her home state: Carolina Slade Mysteries, The Edisto Island Mysteries, both award-winning, and most recently The Craven County Mysteries, using the original county history of the state to create a fictional county in contemporary times, right where it used to be. She speaks widely to writers, book clubs, and libraries nationally, and sometimes internationally, about the craft, business, and motivational aspects of writing, in hope of inspiring others to find the thrill in reading and writing. Her website, FundsforWriters.com was selected by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for each of the past 21 years. Her writing newsletters reach 25,000 subscribers each Friday. She’s published in Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents, Guide to Self-Publishing, SC Wildlife Magazine, and more. Her novels are known up and down coastal SC, with a special interest by the tourists and natives of the Edisto/Lowcountry area. Hope is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Southeastern Writers Association, International Thriller Writers, and MENSA. When she’s not researching Edisto, she’s writing along the banks of Lake Murray.

Most of us wish we could flesh our thoughts, experiences, and make-believe dreams into stories on paper. The art of theme, plotting and characterization come from understanding what makes for an intriguing read: tension, active voice, creative dialog. Learning how to mold a story concept, memoir or fiction, into a three-dimensional tale is empowering and a trip that not only entertains the reader, but satisfies the writer as they leave a legacy of words. Everyone has a story in them. What is yours?

Using examples from well-known books, movies and television shows, and whatever example the audience wants to dissect, learn the art of taking a character from basic hair and eye color into a quirky, charismatic, loveable, respectable, enticing, intense, or demonic contributor to a tale. Whether you read or write, the discussion and Q&A shed new light on characterization and what makes a player great and memorable, and what makes him fall flat.

Readers adore investing in characters over a series of books, and the mystery genre is ripe with such series. But what makes for an intriguing series? How does a writer keep the momentum going book after book so readers beg for more? As a reader or writer, understand how a series grows and builds a following so that the characters ultimately feel like people in real life that readers care about, and the stories don’t go stale.

Most writers are introverts, meaning they not only find it difficult to take their ideas from thought to paper, but they fear submitting, publishing, and speaking. Using tricks and tools from her book The Shy Writer Reborn, C. Hope Clark walks potential writers through the landmines of writing and publishing so that their dreams of being read can come true.

How a bribe led to a book deal. Hope Clark always wrote but never thought that writing could be a career. But after being offered a bribe, and finding herself in the midst of a federal investigation, she quickly realized that life made for great fiction. In a journey of starts, stops, and ample rejection, she left the federal sector and became a full-time author proving that a lot of writer wannabes can do the same . . . with diligence, dedication, and desire. This discussion with Q&A will aid storytellers in their quest to write and publish.

Setting matters, and Hope Clark’s Edisto Mystery Series clears the shelves of the Edisto Bookstore as fast as they appear. There’s something about the jungle setting, about crossing the McKinley Washington Bridge to that island, that makes for an intriguing, suspenseful setting for mystery. Learn how choosing a strategic setting for stories can make as much or more difference in the success of a book than plot or character, and in fact, become the biggest living, almost breathing, character in your tale.

So many people want to write their life’s story. But where does one start, and how much is intriguing enough to engage readers? Learn how not to start when you were born, and how to identify the aspects of your history that merit the storytelling, and how to spin it like a novel and garner attention.

People love stories set in the South, and many adore the South Carolina setting. Pat Conroy, Dorothea Benton Frank, and Mary Alice Monroe have capitalized on our state in their fictional stories. What is it about South Carolina that makes for a good backdrop? What part of South Carolina isn’t clearly depicted, and what is realistic?

Yes, this topic makes for an active open discussion, with more audience participation than most. Not only learn how authors utilize setting almost as character, but also learn from others what stories, especially SC stories, might be worth adding to your nightstand for future reading.

Debra Conner

Debra Conner has worked as a Chautauqua performer since receiving a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to develop a portrayal of Emily Dickinson in 1997.  She has appeared in almost every state Chautauqua program, including 10 tours with Ohio Chautauqua.  In addition, she has appeared at the Forbes Gallery in NYC, the Baltimore Museum of Art, and the Margaret Mitchell Museum in Atlanta.  For many years, prior to her recent move to SC, she worked as an Artist-in-Residence for the Ohio Arts Council, the WV Arts Commission, and as a faculty member of several colleges.  Her degrees are from the University of Virginia (BA in English) and Warren Wilson College (MFA in Creative Writing.) Debra Conner presents in-character, Chautauqua-style presentations that include a monologue, a question & answer session in character, followed by a question & answer session out of character.  All programs are about 60 minutes in length.

Emily Dickinson, legendary reclusive poet from Amherst, Massachusetts.  Although virtually unknown during her lifetime, Dickinson is now considered one of the greatest poets who ever lived.  Her path to publication and her wit will surprise.  Prepare to be entertained by her views on everything from cats to religion.

Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, a book that has influenced the way Americans view the Civil War.  Mitchell was a reluctant celebrity and a brilliant storyteller.  Few people know that her gifts to Atlanta’s historically black college, Morehouse, still fund scholarships for medical students there.

Edith Russell, Titanic survivor.  Fashion designer and journalist, flamboyant Edith Russell, loved the limelight.  As a first class passenger on the doomed ship, she required a first class cabin for herself and a first class cabin for her clothing.  Her vivid, first-hand accounts of the sinking are spellbinding.

Suzie Parker Devoe

Suzie Parker Devoe is an actor, writer and producer and a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Southern Methodist University. After a career of performing, she began public speaking ten years ago about topics on Women’s History and the Suffrage movement. As an Executive Board member of the Edward Hopper House Arts Center, she added topics about Edward Hopper and his life as an artist to her repertoire. She enjoys speaking to audiences on subjects that inspire her.

Susie King Taylor escapes bondage at the age of fourteen; Charlotte Forten, an educated teacher from Philadelphia, boards a steamship, as does Laura Towne, a Boston medical school graduate. All three end up in Beaufort and the South Carolina Sea Islands in 1862. Three women of different backgrounds, ages, and race. Where did they come from, what did they want, and why did they stay? Each was forever changed by their time in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Their journeys, their writings, their fortitude and passion are inspirational. This program will remind listeners of the power of education and the resourcefulness of women who worked during the era of Reconstruction.

L.M. Drucker

An archaeologist with over 30 years experience, Dr. Drucker is based in Columbia where she operates a business, teaches at area colleges, develops cultural resource management workshops, and writes educational and business materials. She earned a BA in Anthropology at USC and a Ph.D. in Archaeology at Tulane University. In addition to serving as adjunct faculty at Columbia College and USC, she is a member of the American Cultural Resources Association, a business group that advocates for the support and preservation of community heritage. She is also past President of the Council of South Carolina Professional Archaeologists and served for nearly 10 years as Coordinator of the annual South Carolina Archaeology Discovery Weekend, an event co-sponsored by three state agencies.

Dr. Drucker has authored over 300 archaeological studies of South Carolina and North Carolina sites, as well as several major journal articles. She is co-editor of a nationally distributed book about South Carolina’s historic landscapes. She is also the author of Archaeology for Business People: A Handbook for South Carolina Developers and Planners, now in its 3rd edition.

Get an overview of the scope and depth of archaeology in the classroom. Working with slides, posters, brochures, handouts, and hands-on discovery of artifacts, learn how you can design lesson plans about archaeological topics that encourage students to use verbal, math, reasoning, analytical, judgment (ethics), and teamwork skills to link life in the past with life in the present and to think like “detectives in time.” Bring your book bag!

The science of archaeology is basically detective work. It involves understanding and “reading” earth science clues that are collected using careful, explicit techniques. If your interests range from map reading to digs or from cultural artifacts to radiocarbon dating, this workshop will prepare you to enter the world of amateur archaeological sleuthing.

From the late 1600s to 1865, the Palmetto State was built on the backs of it most numerous inhabitants. African slaves and their descendants shaped, and were shaped by, the physical and social landscapes of early South Carolina. Their diverse cultural systems have been studied from several perspectives, based on historical, archaeological, and other material evidence. This workshop explores some of the major themes and lines of evidence derived from archaeology and narrative history.

If you are an active member of your community or a public employee, you no doubt get involved in interesting and contentious issues from time to time. More and more, our communities’ pasts and their remains are in jeopardy or in the news. Would you like to better understand and even contribute to saving the past for the future? Learn the basics here and become a more effective voice for historic preservation and heritage tourism.

What in the world are they doing? As an art form, dance is almost universally appreciated, if not always understood. Understanding, though, is basic to communication, and dance is, above all, a form of non-verbal communication. Understanding the cultural context and history around dance can create an appreciation of even its most exotic, strange, or seemingly vulgar forms. Using films, slides, and short performances, this workshop offers participants a chance to stretch their horizons by experiencing and observing dance as a form of non-verbal communication. This workshop is particularly useful for community service and program staffs, educators, and dance instructors.

Sterling (Skip) Eisiminger

Sterling “Skip” Eisiminger, Professor Emeritus of English and Humanities at Clemson University, is the author Wordspinner (a collection of word games and puzzles), Non-Prescription Medicine (poetry), Letters to the Grandchildren (personal essays), and Anecdotes and Antidotes (flash non-fiction). He holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina, where James Dickey directed his creative dissertation.

For the most part, this program is a poetry reading from the best comic verse of the last century or so. It seeks to restore light verse to the poetic canon which, in the lecturer’s opinion, is unfairly dominated by the seriously unfunny.

This audience-participation program works best with a group that enjoys language, as they will be intimately involved and asked to volunteer further contributions to the lecturer’s list of Southern dialect, contemporary slang, folk etymologies, Spoonerisms, and more.

According to the Sikes Hall cornerstone, the old library was built 5,904 years after what?
John C. Calhoun’s sideboard was made from mahogany taken from what?
The 2012 addition to the architecture complex has a green roof made of what?
If you love Clemson University, I have 47 more just like these three.

What would you call several unicorns if you were so lucky to see them?
What does “avantular” mean?
And why will your children and grandchildren smile when you tell them what the potentater is?
If you love word play, you’ll love the other 47 questions and answers that go with the above.

Did you know that the peak age for psychological well-being is 82? That prune juice outsells orange juice in Miami? Or that 94% of Clemson faculty and staff remain in the immediate area after retirement? These questions, their answers, and a half-dozen pertinent cartoons are the subject of this Q and A presentation

Did you know that Andrew Carnegie underwrote the construction of 2509 libraries? That in 2014, a library in San Antonio became the first library without newspapers, magazine, or books? Or that a library in Portugal supports a colony of bats to eat the moths and beetles that feed on the books? These questions, their answers, and a half-dozen pertinent cartoons are the subject of this Q and A presentation.

Did you know that laughter and crying are a baby’s first means of communicating? A speaker laughs 46% more than the people listening? Or that about 1300 AD, Giotto painted the first human smiling? These questions, their answers, and a half-dozen pertinent cartoons are the subject of this Q and A presentation.

Did you know that forty materials from twenty-eight countries go into the making of a #2 pencil? That a letter’s author owns the copyright, but the recipient owns the letter? Or that an experienced journalist is expected to produce about a thousand words per day? These questions, their answers, and a half-dozen pertinent cartoons are the subject of this Q and A presentation.

Did you know that Herman Melville claimed a whaling ship was his “Harvard and Yale”? That 65% of current college housing is co-ed? Or that in 1880, England had four degree-granting institutions and a population of twenty-three million; while at the same time, Ohio had thirty-seven degree-granting institutions with a population of three million? These questions, their answers, and a half-dozen pertinent cartoons are the subject of this Q and A presentation.

Jennie Holton Fant

Jennie Holton Fant has explored the history of Charleston as told by its travelers in two published volumes of collections, The Travelers’ Charleston: Accounts of Charleston and Lowcountry, South Carolina, 1666–1861, and Sojourns in Charleston, South Carolina, 1865-1947. She is a South Carolina native, editor, writer and librarian, who served on the staff of Duke University Libraries. In addition to her books, she has previously published articles about Charleston in innumerable Southeast publications. She has a new book coming out in the near future titled The Regions of the Rice Planter: Journeys Around Georgetown and the Waccamaw River Regions 1734-1875. Fant now lives at Pawleys Island, South Carolina.

According to reviewer Bill Thompson in the Charleston Post and Courier, “The Holy City was a favored destination of visitors, and writers, long before travel magazines anointed it as such. Jennie Holton Fant’s anthologies amplify the fact in arresting collections of narratives about the city. Her second book, Sojourns in Charleston broadens the themes Fant introduced in her previous volume, The Travelers’ Charleston: Accounts of Charleston and Lowcountry, South Carolina, 1666-1861, again featuring the writing of a diverse group of journalists, travelers and tourists whose observations, good and bad, still resonate. Even natives and long-time residents will find surprises here, not least in many of the book’s startling facts or connections. Fant, a former Charleston resident, has done an impeccable job, providing an education on a century of Charleston history as seen by outsiders.”

These presentations explore the history of Charleston as witnessed in the documentary testimony of its travelers, none who were from the South. This speaker provides an easy understanding of the complicated and captivating history of America’s most intriguing city.

Charleston has always held a fascination for its visitors. Today there remains a nacreous patina that overlays this old city, a pentimento suggestive not only of artifacts beneath the surface but also gradations of history. It suggests an excavation of its centuries-old layers. This presentation allows us to do just that, to venture back through the firsthand observations left by explorers, travelers and other visitors to Charleston, from its founding to the first shot of the Civil War. As these visitors ambled over the region, they left a record of past eras. It is interesting to witness through their eyes not only the inns and hotels, city streets and houses, gardens, plantations, churches, and cemeteries, but the escalating viewpoints that ultimately contributed to the Civil War. As well, these visitors describe what they ate, the manner of dining and entertaining, the St. Cecilia ball. They document slaves and slavery. They encounter forgotten people, who are brought back to life in their chronicles. And who were these travelers to Charleston? This is an opportunity to step back in time and observe the bygone society, culture, and politics of old Charleston, and view history firsthand.

This presentation is a journey to Charleston after the Civil War and into the twentieth century, as portrayed by its visitors, including such luminaries as William Dean Howells, May Sarton, and Norman Rockwell.  Just as the Civil War was ending, northern journalists descended on Charleston to write about the ruin of the city from the war. Subsequent travelers allow us to observe Reconstruction and the condition of the newly freed slaves. From there, we witness a time when the region was promoted as a picturesque, exotic paradise, and into the Jim Crow era. After a long period when all of Charleston was impoverished (and aristocratic locals fiercely proud), we travel through time to the South Carolina Interstate and West Indian Exposition in 1901, through World War I, across the Jazz era, and to World War II.  And through this journey, Charleston never fails to fascinate. Implicit is the eventual creation of tourism, which ultimately evolved from the creation of a mythology from the past, envisaged by the descendants of old Charleston families. This mindset by locals resulted in the founding of cultural institutions that ultimately led to tourism, as a means of the city’s very survival. However, not all writers were complimentary. As Bill Thompson noted in the Charleston Post and Courier, “There are also vivid contrasts in how many visiting writers defended (or tolerated) that mythology — tending to extol the gentility of the Charleston aristocracy — with a far fewer number who deliciously, sometimes viciously, debunked it.”  This is an overview of the city’s trajectory after “The War,” with all its tragedy, color, eccentricity, and controversy – warts and all. Yet, as well, this is Charleston in all its magnificence as a city that remains utterly unique.

John Fowler

John has over 30 years of national performing experience conducting programs at festivals, schools, college’s, and camps. He is a regional favorite at the Stories for Life Festival, Stone Soup Storytelling Festival, Starburst Storytelling Festival, Hagood Mill Storytelling Festival, and Augusta Bakers Dozens Festival as well as many others.

John has produced several grant-supported research projects featuring a number of distinctive recordings of traditional/roots & ethnic musicians and storytellers: Textile Town (92) features a rare collection of interviews with local textile operatives fromSpartanburg County; Fiddler Traditions features rare field recordings and claimed national appeal in 2004; Story, Song and Image tours the state as an interactive exhibit which features roots music from the mountains-to-the-sea.

John has several other recordings projects to his credit and has written for the Hub City Writers Project. In 1994 he self-published an instructional book on how to play simple hand-held folk instruments. John is also featured in the book Southern Appalachian Storytellers (McFarland) by Saundra Kelly.

He is a graduate of the Institute for Community Scholars, Folklore & Music Studies at Swannanoa College and has an Associate in Civil Engineering at Spartanburg College. He is a member of the South Carolina Storytelling Network and founding member of the Carolina Old Time Music Network. Currently he is serving as the State Scholar with SC Humanities’s touring exhibit New Harmonies.  John also co-produces a very popular old-time music show, “This Old Porch” on N.C. Public radio WNCW 88.7 FM.

**John Fowler requests an additional honorarium to the $250 contributed by SC Humanities.**

An interactive timeline lecture with music presentations. John connects the dots, linking music heritage relative to region, ethnicity, religion and culture. The presentation is an overview of parallels between European, Native American and African influences which played an important role in shaping American music forms and styles, from field hollers and chants to blues and gospel. Early forms of folk/country and bluegrass are also introduced.

A combination of traditional and personal stories with music presentation on banjo, guitar, fiddle, harmonica and spoons. This program is a celebration of Southern Appalachian culture and influences. John draws on his roots presenting stories and songs from the southern mountains with a personal touch about grandparents, apron-strings and his first telephone experience. Expect historic references and some music history.

A program that celebrates our heritage with stories and music from around the world. John’s retelling of African and European fables & folktales is a delightful presentation that connects the past with the present, highlighting culture differences and similarities. Each story reflects simple conflict and struggle with predictable resolutions. Some stories are enhanced with the introduction of old-world instruments (jaw harp, kalimba (lamellophone), drums, mouth bow and banjo). Designed for young audiences, suited for all.

This lecture is based on one of South Carolina’s premiere folk legends. John blends his powerful storytelling and traditional musical talents to share the interesting life-story of one of South Carolina’s famous and elusive turn-of-the-century African Americans. Through captivating performances, John weaves the history and folklore of the life of George Mullins. Fowler tells two tales: the story of Trotting Sally, an infamous street musician; and the real man few knew — George Mullins, who was born into slavery and built a new life as a free man, brick by brick. The presentation is based on Fowler’s book Trotting Sallythe Roots and Legacy of a Folk Hero. This presentation is not just a lecture—Fowler uses rare visual imagery, storytelling and 19th music during his presentation. The presentation is great for everyone and would be especially intriguing for history students and/or clubs, genealogy studies and/or organizations, and general audience populations. This program can easily conclude with time for Q&A.

Nicholas Gambrell

Nicholas (Nick) Gambrell was born, raised and still lives in Oconee County, SC. He attended Appalachian State University where he majored in History and minored in Music (2001). Wanting to return home, Nick then received his Masters in History from Clemson University (2003). After graduate school, Nick went on to become the Director/Curator at the Oconee Heritage Center (now Oconee History Museum). In 2009, he left the museum to travel the world with various groups as a missionary for four years. Over the years, Nick has taught history as an adjunct professor at local colleges including Greenville Technical College, Erskine College, Southern Wesleyan University and Tri-County Technical College. Together with his wife, Bentley, Nick opened an architectural salvage business in 2014. He still salvages but mainly focuses on “re-use” through historic restoration. Part of this historic restoration is currently taking place at the Foothills Farmstead- a living-history, working farm located in Oconee County, SC. Nick and Bentley have two children, London and Zeke, and they are currently restoring a nineteenth-century house of their own in Oakway, SC.

This lecture looks at the interesting concept of history vs. memory using the microhistory of one man’s legacy. Silas Butts was a moonshiner in Oconee County who also ran a grist mill and an unofficial orphanage. But people remember him differently- either as a great man or a horrible man. How can one person have two opposite legacies?

Nick Gambrell has moved many historic structures over the years by disassembling and reassembling. This lecture illuminates the painstaking process as well as looking at a variety of historic properties that have been relocated.

Nick Gambrell’s passion has long been historic rural construction of the region. The lecture will cover building styles, construction methods & ranges from farmhouses to log cabins.

Ginetta V. Hamilton

Ginetta V. Hamilton is a native of Alvin, South Carolina. Mrs.  Hamilton is a proud graduate of the University of South Carolina, where she obtained both her Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts in Elementary Education degree.  Mrs. Hamilton retired after serving as an educator for 25 years in Richland School District 2 at Joseph Keels Elementary. Mrs. Hamilton has written four books: Black HistorySomeone Forgot to Teach the Children (recently revised); Navigate to Success: Understand the Past, Prepare for the Future, Move Forward (on black history); Waverly, a Historic Perspective Through the Eyes of Senior Citizens; as well as The Civil War,  Slavery,  and the Laws – A Research Guide TimelineShe volunteers with Junior Achievement USA, Midlands Education and Business Alliance, IT-ology Columbia.  She holds membership in Literacy 2030, the Spann Watson Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, SCCAAS, and the Columbia Branch NAACP.  She is a member of the Greater St. Luke Baptist Church, Columbia SC, and Bethlehem Baptist, Alvin, SC. Mrs. Hamilton is married, has two children and two grandchildren.

Ginetta V. Hamilton will share important facts from her book Black History: Someone Forgot to Teach the Children. She will address the struggle and contributions of African Americans both in South Carolina and in the country.

This presentation will focus on the 5 Ws (Who? What? When? Where?  Why?) of the Tuskegee Airmen as well as their plight to prove their abilities.

Learning and understanding about historical events, places, and often just ordinary people who played a critical role in challenging unjust laws will empower participants.  The personal stories, timeline of events, as well as the words of wisdom and challenges contained in this book will sound the alert that the struggle for racial equity is not a cause of the past.  Today, everyone must renew focus, demonstrate perseverance and resilience as we navigate to success and continue to move forward.

Jonathan Haupt

Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center and the founding director of the Pat Conroy Literary Festival. As the former director of the University of South Carolina Press, Haupt created, with the late Pat Conroy, the Story River Books original fiction imprint, named by Garden & Gun magazine as “one of the top ten things to love about the South.” Haupt’s book reviews and author interviews have appeared in the Charleston Post & Courier. the Beaufort Lowcountry Weekly, and the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s blog Porch Talk. He serves on the boards of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and the Friends of South Carolina Libraries. He has moderated panels and presented on topics of small press and university press publishing, literary arts partnerships, and the writing life of Pat Conroy at writers conferences, library conferences, book festivals, libraries, and schools. With novelist Nicole Seitz, Haupt is coeditor of the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

“The great teachers of the world fill you up with hope and shower you with a thousand reasons to embrace all aspects of life.”—Pat Conroy
This presentation explores best-selling author Pat Conroy’s transformational years as a student at Beaufort High School and later as a teacher at BHS and on Daufuskie Island. Included are audio and video clips, photographs, and both published and unpublished excerpts by and about Conroy (1945-2016), the best-selling author of a dozen novels and memoirs, including The Water Is Wide and The Prince of Tides.

“A library could show you everything if you knew where to look.”—Pat Conroy
This one-hour presentation on best-selling author Pat Conroy’s lifelong love of books and libraries focuses on the roles public libraries, school libraries, and Pat’s own personal library played in his writing life. Through video and audio clips, photographs, and published and unpublished writings by and about Conroy, this discussion welcomes attendees into the book-filled world of one of America’s most beloved writers.

“The poets of the world occupy a place of high honor in my city of books.”—Pat Conroy
Best known as a beloved novelist and memoirist, internationally acclaimed author Pat Conroy (1945-2016) began his writing life wanting to be a poet. Over time, Conroy transitioned successfully to prose, incorporating the lyrical and descriptive elements he most admired in poetry. This one-hour presentation explores Conroy’s early forays in poetry, some of his influences and teachers, the poetic nature of his famous prose, and his lifelong love of reading poetry.

“Open yourself up to all experience. Let life pour through you the way light pours through leaves.”—Pat Conroy
The author of The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini, and The Water Is Wide, author and educator Pat Conroy (1945–2016) is synonymous with the lowcountry. Explore Conroy’s lifelong commitment to education and self-improvement through stories of three of his “post-graduate” mentors. This presentation will also discuss how the nonprofit Pat Conroy Literary Center continues Conroy’s legacy as teacher, mentor, advocate, and friend to readers and writers.

“Writers of the world, if you’ve got a story, I want to hear it. I promise it will follow me to my last breath.”—Pat Conroy
Although beloved writer Pat Conroy (1945-2016) served as a classroom educator for little more than three years, he remained a teacher and mentor to his fellow writers throughout his lifetime. In this one-hour presentation, see Conroy in action as a teacher through representative remembrances of him excerpted from essays by the 67 contributors to the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy, edited by Nicole Seitz and Jonathan Haupt. This presentation also features Seitz’s hand-drawn sketches of the featured “Scribes.”

Lucy Beam Hoffman

Lucy Beam Hoffman is a business-owner and non-traditional student who returned to college in 2002 to pursue a Masters in History. She specializes in Holocaust history, and her passions are writing, speaking, and teaching.

The Final Solution evolved slowly in the eyes of the Nazis, but with the process of the Euthanasia program and later Operation Barbarossa, the industrialization of killing began. The Euthanasia program, in which Hitler murdered the mentally and physically incapacitated of Germany, created the possibility—and incorporated the people—who could and did kill the innocent with impunity and disregard. Barbarossa commenced Hitler’s plan to kill the Jews, Commissars, and political undesirables as the Special Police Battalions and the Einsatzgruppen swept up those left behind when the German army marched through the USSR. What began as a program of Jewish emigration became one of extermination.

Film is a major component of society’s understanding of history. How have films about the Holocaust changed over time, and how have these films changed our understanding of the Holocaust? Films such as The Diary of Anne Frank in 1959 hardly touched on the Jewish catastrophe and, in fact, eliminated much that was Jewish in the film, while Schindler’s List in 1993 graphically displayed the tragic issues of the Jews. Other films, such as Holocaust (the TV movie), were homogenized to the experience but opened up the German youth consciousness for what had happened in their country. With a discerning eye, one can gain a greater knowledge of the Holocaust through film studies.

The years 1933-1939 must be studied to enable an understanding of what came later. The Final Solution, implemented in late 1940-1941, was slowly realized through these early years. Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor in January 1933 paved the way for the Nazis to continue on their path of human destruction, but the economic woes of Germany are an important clue as to what later became state policy. What happened to allow a cultured but devastated society the willingness to take part in one of the most heinous events of the 20th Century? What are the many scholarly viewpoints regarding the German consciousness, and how do these conflict with or support the evolution of the Nazi’s Final Solution?

Willie Earle, an African American, was accused of killing Thomas Watson Brown, a cab driver from Greenville, SC.  Thirty-one white men (mostly cab drivers – all white) drove from Greenville in the middle of the night to take Earle out of the Pickens County Jail.  They then beat him, burned him, and shot him in the face.  The largest lynching trial in the history of the US took place in Greenville, SC, in 1947.  As a co-writer of the play, The Last Lynching, Hoffman read 26 confessions in the Thomas Bolt Culbertson papers at Clemson.  Out of 31 charged with the lynching, three didn’t stand trial.  The other 28 were acquitted.  This heinous act has never received justice, and many lives were ruined.  For many years, black parents warned their sons not to misbehave or they’d get “what Willie Earle got.”  Hoffman will present this tragic, riveting story, which includes the involvement of Strom Thurmond and took place in Greenville with worldwide media coverage.

Aliene Shields Humphries

Aliene Humphries was born in Spartanburg, SC and graduated from Columbia College with degrees in Special Education and Public Speaking/Drama. In 2010, she wrote her first book, The Legacy of A Common Civil War Soldier, based on the letters written by her great-grandfather Private Thomas Marion Shields in 1861-1865. Currently, Aliene is promoting her new book (tentative release date of fall 2022) and Timeline (now available) with the 60+ significant sites in her beloved state of South Carolina as battlefield sites, gravesites, and more. Aliene dresses in period attire and brings items from the 18th century to her talks including old and rare newspapers and unique items such as a wig curler.

There is much more to the role of South Carolina than just what happened on the battlefield! In this presentation, Aliene Humphries talks about the fascinating but little-known stories of the Revolutionary War’s Southern Campaigns both on and off the battlefield. She has 64 sites included in the timeline of events. This talk correspondings with Aliene’s forthcoming book, The Importance of South Carolina in the American Revolution.

The French and Indian War pitted the colonies of British America against those of New France, each side supported by military units from the parent country and by American Indian allies. Humphries discusses the experiences of this often-forgotten conflict and the outcome that caused the colonists to want to fight for independence from England. Aliene also brings along period artifacts.

Humphries authored a book using the letters her great grandfather wrote back home to his beloved wife during 1861-1865. Based on the book The Legacy of A Common Civil War Soldier, this program offers a rare glimpse of what life was really like for a Confederate soldier and his wife.

Ann-Chadwell Humphries

As a girl in rural Texas, Ann-Chadwell Humphries competed in poetry recitation. After retirement, she took community writing classes, then graduate poetry classes at UofSC, and online classes with the University of Iowa, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Hadley Institute for the Blind. Last year, Muddy Ford Press selected Ann as the second in their Laureate series to publish her first book of poetry, An Eclipse and a Butcher. Winner of poetry contests, awards, and scholarships, Ann regularly has work published everywhere from literary journals to city buses. A rogue gene, retinitis pigmentosa, gradually diminished her peripheral vision to a pinpoint, but Ann sees with more than her eyes—she sees with her whole being. Ann reads and writes using assistive technology. She has been designated a Notable Woman of South Carolina by UofSC’s Special Collections Library, who is currently in the process of archiving her poetry papers.

Humphries sees with more than her eyes; she perceives with her entire being—signature of a stride, voices as distinct as thumbprints, memory as toned and sleek as an elite athlete, blended with sense of humor and common sense. Ann’s sensory inventory infuses her poetry, which in turn operates as a vehicle for sense to explore the world around her. Humphries prefers to compose in poetic forms—”I get lost in prose”—form gives her boundaries of line breaks, rhyme, and rhythm; yet she will break form to spring a surprise, rife with sensory detail. In this presentation, audiences will learn about the power of their own voices and how poetry can be a sense through which they explore their own world, regardless of background, ability, or identity.

Humphries wrote extensively during her career, but as her career progressed, so did retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder causing loss of peripheral vision. In 2012, she learned to write poetry in community classes, then graduate poetry classes at UofSC, studying under poets such as Nikky Finney and Ed Madden, who would later become the editor of her book. After being selected to publish her first book, Humphries experienced the unique crafting of a collection—word by word, line by line, space by space, Humphries watched singular poems stretch tendrils out to one another to build a narrative with its own heartbeat. In sharing the stories behind her debut collection and the process of creating it, Humphries intends to engage the audience emotionally and inspire them to write, asking the questions, “why not me?”; “why not you?”

Poetry puts thoughts into words into actions and has a unique ability to be converted into wealth, wealth amassed as confidence, influence, and quality of life. Though timeless, poetry has a distinct cultural relevance in 2021; new voices spring from everywhere—those of various races, genders, sexualities, religions, ethnicities—and appear everywhere—social media, presidential inaugurations, and even Super Bowls. Today more than ever, poetry is practical, portable, accessible, affordable, and necessary. In this presentation, Humphries will provide the audience strategies for keeping poetry close, extracting personal relevance from the poems one encounters, and discovering one’s voice through poetry.

In 1863, both women were in South Carolina’s Lowcountry—Barton provided supplies and medical care for Union and Confederate soldiers at the Battle of Fort Waggoner with Massachusetts’s 54th Regiment. Tubman, a formerly enslaved woman, ran reconnaissance and led Union forces up the Combahee River to free more than 700 enslaved persons. This presentation recognizes two influential and powerful women working in South Carolina, around the same time, whose stories are rarely told in full. Audiences will not only learn their stories but how to track the literal and metaphorical footsteps they left across our state.

Julia Peterkin was a white woman who wrote about Gullah people living on her family’s plantation out of a desire to honor and preserve their culture. She was shunned by white Southerners for “betraying her race” but became accepted by Harlem Renaissance writers, such as Langston Hughes and W.E.B. DuBois. Regardless of criticism, she continued writing, and became one of the earliest women to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1929; to this day she is still South Carolina’s only Pulitzer Prize Winner. This presentation aims to shed a light on Peterkin, a powerful, educated woman who started chasing her dreams of writing at age 40; the audience will learn about what inspired her, what made her so highly debated, and what happens to a woman’s legacy when she is just as rebellious and fiery as the bright red hair growing from her head.

Christopher Johnson

Christopher D. Johnson has been a professor of English at Francis Marion University since 1996.   A specialist in eighteenth-century British literature, Dr. Johnson has published A Political Biography of Sarah Fielding (Taylor and Francis, 2017), New Contexts for Eighteenth-Century British Fiction: Essays in Honor of Jerry C. Beasley (University of Delaware Press, 2011), and a critical edition of Sarah Fielding’s The Lives of Cleopatra and Octavia (Bucknell University Press, 1994). The author of more than seventy scholarly publications, Dr. Johnson reviews new work for a variety of journals and has served as a book review editor for “XVIII: New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century.” He is currently preparing a critical edition of Philip Doddridge’s The Life of Colonel James Gardiner (1747) and working on a book examining the intersections between the rise of the novel and domestic violence.

Today we think of novels as little more than entertainment. When the genre emerged in the eighteenth century, novels also had an almost medicinal function: they were texts that helped readers regulate their passions. Drawing on recent scholarship, this talk will explain how reading fiction was thought to improve health. Equally important, it will explore how many of the medical theories of the eighteenth century continue to find expression within our culture, if not within our science.

As we are bombarded daily by ever-coarsening political discourse, it is tempting to long for a gentler, perhaps more civil, age. Imagining a past similar to the worlds of Jane Austen novels, we sometimes project our wishes onto the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This talk will suggest that what we are experiencing in America today is part of a long tradition. In fact, many of the satiric texts of the early-modern period, including familiar works such as “Gulliver’s Travels,” not only used the same techniques as do modern commentators, but actually used them more viciously.

One of the most interesting dynamics of eighteenth-century literature is the emergence of women writers. This talk will examine how early women novelists took the stories they inherited from male authors and retold them in ways that were quietly subversive. This process of appropriation and redirection continues today and provides important insight on how art shapes culture.

Our society tends to divide work into neat categories. There is, for example, the work of the mind, and the work of hands. Universities are thought to prepare students for the former, technical colleges for the latter. This talk will explore the shortcomings of this type of thinking. Drawing on the experiences of teaching a university course that included woodworking, the speaker will explore the hidden intellectual content of labor-intensive work and suggest the benefits of breaking down distinctions that are both obsolete and inaccurate. Humanities teachers, the paper will show, can play an important role in helping students learn to appreciate and value skills that too often go unnoticed.

From an early age, we are taught that reading is good. But what happens when the stories that we read reinforce dangerous ideas? This talk will explore the similarities between novels of courtship and marriage and the horrific dynamics of domestic violence. With reference to popular texts, such as Disney animations, the speaker identifies how narrative patterns of sacrifice, loss, and redemption not only shape the way we understand experience, but can also blind us the dangers of abusive relationships.

Eric J. Lapin

Dr. Eric J. Lapin is a Senior Lecturer of Music in the Department of Performing Arts and the former Artistic Director for the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts at Clemson University. He is the author of The Artist Entrepreneur: Finding Success in a New Arts Economy with Ronald C. McCurdy and Richard E. Goodstein, is a member of the SC Humanities: Speaker’s Bureau, is a co-founder of LEAD College Consulting, LLC, and a partner with GoFollowLead, LLC. Dr. Lapin holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in clarinet performance, a Ph.D. in higher education leadership, and is a candidate for his MBA in entrepreneurship and innovation. He teaches courses in arts administration, arts entrepreneurship, applied clarinet, and music history. More information is available at ericjlapin.com.

A discussion of jazz history from its inception in New Orleans through the modern day.  This talk can easily be tailored to fit the interests of the particular group and can include any combination of eras/styles, a broad overview, a focus on a particular style, or on individual artists and performers.  Any discussion will include in-depth historical context.

Can include specific descriptions of different eras, major works, and/or individual composers.  Any talk will feature in-depth historical context and stories about major composers of the time period.

An in-depth look at the relationship between political structures and musical movements.  Depending upon the interests of the group, this talk can include Beethoven’s Musical Treatment from Napoleon to Hitler, Baroque Music and Absolutism, Mozart and the Enlightenment, Jim Crow and Jazz, or many others.

How should we best be preparing students for sustainable lives in the arts?  This talk will look at the historical role of the arts, current education models, and the skills needed for the current marketplace.

Len Lawson

Len Lawson is the author of Chime (Get Fresh Books, 2019) and the chapbook Before the Night Wakes You (Finishing Line Press, 2017). He is also editor of Hand in Hand: Poets Respond to Race (Muddy Ford Press, 2017) and The Future of Black: Afrofuturism and Black Comics Poetry (Blair Press, 2021). Among his accolades, he won the 2016 Jasper Project Artist of the Year Award in Literary Arts, the inaugural 2018 NC Poetry Society Susan Laughter Meyers Fellowship in Poetry, and the 2020 SC Academy of Authors Carrie McCrary Nickens Fellowship in Poetry. He has received other fellowships from Tin House, Palm Beach Poetry Festival, Callaloo, Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts among others. Currently, he serves on the Boards of Directors for The Jasper Project. Len earned a PhD in English Literature and Criticism from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and currently is Assistant Professor of English at Newberry College.

The 1991 film Daughters of the Dust was the first to portray the Gullah culture on film to a national audience from St. Helena Island in South Carolina. Water in the film takes on the symbol of flight, migration, and separation of the Peazant family from its roots. This lecture explores how views of water in the film shapes discourse on Gullah culture and on echoes of slavery in America.

In modern fictionalized narratives on slavery by black authors, black women are given a supernatural ability to transcend time and space in order to alter their genealogies and family trauma. This lecture details such abilities given to black female characters and its implications on race relations in the 21st century. 

South Carolina is home to several nationally acclaimed African American poets who have left the state to pursue their crafts and careers in stunning fashion. Three South Carolina native poets have gone on to win the National Book Award for Poetry in the last decade. This lecture will explore the work of such poets as Terrance Hayes, Nikky Finney, Sharan Strange, and more with a focus on their associations to South Carolina and how the state appears in their poetry.

Erin R. McCoy

Erin R. McCoy is an Associate Professor of English & Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Her forthcoming book, about the cultural historiography of the Viet Nam War through music, is under contract with McFarland Publishers. For that book, Dr. McCoy traveled to Australia, Laos, Cambodia, and of course, Viet Nam with the help of USC RISE funding. Dr. McCoy lectures on music as a lens with which to look at history and culture and has presented her research around the world. She has been a guest on Vietnam Veterans Podcast, and her recent essay (March 2021) on Feminism in Higher Education was featured in the Oh, the Humanities newsletter.

This program gives an overview of different genres of music of the war, with lyrics displayed while songs play. “Top 40” hits are interspersed with “deep cuts” from the Viet Nam War era, and the discussion includes global cultural, social, and historical contexts for the songs presented.

This program offers a brief history of anti-war music in the United States up to the Viet Nam War and further discussion of specific anti-war songs (for example: “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” by The Animals, 1965, is the most remembered song by VN War Veterans) and their historical context. More recent anti-war music will also be touched upon, but in the context of themes & lyrics repeated/re-worked for 21st century wars.

This program will engage participants in a discussion of literature and music from the Chicano and Puerto Rican American population during the Viet Nam War. Music and lyrics are provided. The presentation includes special emphasis on Roy Brown’s 1970 album Yo Protesto and the continued complicated relations between the US & Puerto Rico.

This program will feature songs of the 1960s Civil Rights Movement in the United States discussed in context of historical events. Lyrics are provided. Dive into an investigation of the folk roots of early Civil Rights songs and the influence of soul/R&B on memorable Civil Rights anthems, from Guthrie to Franklin to Cooke, as well as the role of Civil Rights music at live festivals and protest marches/sit-ins, etc.

This presentation traces the importance of sport to antiquity and around the world – we begin with sports “propaganda” on Grecian urns and end with a discussion of the who “owns” the modern athlete. Marketing campaigns and the evolution of sport also explored, along with the role of women in sport throughout history, “GOATs,” and more. The program links a discussion of sports to the greater human condition.

This program uses the Viet Nam War Civil Rights protests in sport (the Wyoming University “Black 14,” Muhammed Ali’s CO status, 1968 Olympics, etc.) as a spring-board to discuss modern/present-day issues of race (cf. Naomi Osaka, the NBA, the MLB/Black Lives Matter/voting rights) and sport begetting social protest. We will attempt to make sense of the inevitable backlash that athletes throughout history have faced for speaking out for civil rights, etc.

Joseph McGill, Jr.

Joseph McGill, Jr. is a native of Kingstree, SC and is the founder of the Slave Dwelling Project and history and culture coordinator at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, SC.

Mr. McGill received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional English from South Carolina State University. He spent six years in the United States Air Force and has been employed by the National Park Service, Penn Center, and the African American Museum of Iowa.

Mr. McGill is the founder of Company “I” 54th Massachusetts Reenactment Regiment in Charleston, SC. The 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry was the regiment portrayed in the award-winning movie Glory. As a Civil War reenactor, Mr. McGill participates in parades, living history presentations, and lectures.

As founder of the Slave Dwelling Project, since 2010, Mr. McGill has slept in slave dwellings throughout the United States to bring much needed attention to these structures.

**Joseph McGill requests an additional honorarium to the $250 contributed by SC Humanities.**

A brief history of the approximately 180,000 African Americans that served in the Union Army and Navy during the Civil War, with a focus on the history of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, the regiment that was portrayed in the award-winning movie, Glory. This presentation is given in a Civil War uniform and includes a first-person characterization.

Joseph McGill will chronicle nights spent in several slave dwellings throughout the United States.

Caroline McIntyre

 Caroline McIntyre is a former history teacher, theater manager, and corporate presenter with a Master’s in American History. She recreates the roles of three of her heroes – Frances Perkins, Rachel Carson and Mary Draper Ingles. She weaves the stories of these heroic women and, in Chautauqua fashion, inspires the audience to ask questions directly to the characters.

Rachel Carson is depicted just after the publication of Silent Spring and 18 months before she dies of breast cancer. Warning of dangers of pesticides and pollution, Silent Spring races to the top of the bestseller list, and Rachel Carson is attacked on all sides by the chemical industry. Proclaimed founder of the Environmental Movement, she is still maligned today. To many of us, she was Joan of Arc, Mother Teresa, and Lois Lane all rolled into one. For the young women of the 1960s, Rachel Carson was our first hero.

Talk about a hiking challenge! How about a 500 mile wilderness trek, without food, fire, or weapons, in early winter and while wearing a summer dress? Captured by a Shawnee war party in the French and Indian War and taken more than 450 miles from her home to what is now Cincinnati, Mary Ingles escaped through an untamed wilderness with the Ohio River as her only guide. Returning home skeletal and almost naked, she recovers to bear four more children and live to a robust 83 – an ordinary woman of extraordinary courage. The program is told Chautauqua-style.

Perkins became the first female cabinet member, FDR’s Secretary of Labor,  at the rock bottom of the Great Depression.  She came with a “To Do List” –  workman’s compensation, unemployment insurance, old age and health insurance; a minimum wage, a maximum work week,  and the abolition of child labor.  When she left office 12 years later (longest serving Cabinet Member), she had accomplished all but one – health insurance.  Who wouldn’t want to ask her how it was done?

Patricia McNeely

USC Professor Emerita Patricia G. “Pat” McNeely taught writing and reporting in the journalism school for 33 years. Before joining the USC faculty, McNeely was a reporter and editor for The Greenville News, The State and The Columbia Record. She is the author of “Sherman’s Flame and Blame Campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas … and the burning of Columbia” and “Fighting Words: A Media History of South Carolina.” She is co-author of “Knights of the Quill: Confederate Correspondents and their Civil War Reporting.”

General William T. Sherman created a new form of physical, economic, and psychological “total warfare” against civilians and private property in Georgia and the Carolinas that he readily admitted would be violent and cruel. In addition to physical and economic assaults, he designed a massive psychological strategy of disinformation, deception, and blame designed to cripple the Confederacy, to destroy the faith of civilians in their leaders and their government, and to kill the will of the people to fight for their cause.
(Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Follow the hour-by-hour description of the sack and destruction of Columbia, SC as told by eye-witnesses who survived Sherman’s assault on the surrendered city on the weekend of Friday, February 17 – Monday, February 20, 1865. Numerous detailed images and maps illustrate the torching and burning that left three-fifths of the city in ashes.
(Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Sherman’s brilliant campaign through Georgia and the Carolinas ended in political turmoil with public insinuations from President Andrew Johnson’s administration that Confederate President Jefferson Davis had bought his freedom from Sherman with gold from the Confederate treasury.  Sherman was accused by high government officials of being “a common traitor and a public enemy” while subordinates were being told to disobey his orders. Even as Sherman angrily denied the rumors, the hunt began for the Confederate gold that was trundling down through the Carolinas into Georgia. The search is still going on today.
(Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Isabel Whaley Sloan started teaching ballroom dancing and social etiquette in Columbia when she was 17 years old in 1914. For three-quarters of a century, generations of children, including Gov. Henry McMaster, flocked to her classes. Sloan was also well-known for organizing dances and social events for thousands of servicemen who were stationed at Fort Jackson during World War II.(Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

General Sherman went to great lengths during the burning of Columbia, South Carolina to protect a friend whose family he had visited frequently while he was a bachelor stationed at Fort Moultrie between 1842 and 1846. The book and letters that Sherman sent to his friend along with an eyewitness account of his visits, finally and convincingly end the 150-year-old controversy about who burned Columbia. Admitting his strategy to destroy towns in his path rather than leaving occupying forces, Sherman said that he “had not wanted to burn the town, it was such a pretty place,” but “could leave no part” of his army to keep it. (Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

After the election of President Andrew Jackson, the ladies of Washington were horrified by the dubious reputation of Peggy Eaton, the wife of the newly appointed secretary of war. After trying for 2 ½ years to have her included in the social life in Washington, Jackson fired his cabinet and destroyed Vice President John C. Calhoun’s hopes of being president. Widowed in 1856, Peggy Eaton married a 19-year-old dancing and music teacher, but he took all of her money and ran off with her 17-year-old granddaughter.
(Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Even though President Lincoln had premonitions that he was going to be assassinated, he was sitting in the unguarded President’s Box at Ford’s Theatre when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Controversy erupted in 1907 when witnesses said that the man who was shot in the Garrett barn was not Booth and that he had escaped and committed suicide in Enid, Oklahoma, in 1903. The Booth family’s request in 2013 to extract DNA to settle the controversy has been rejected by the museum. (Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie in 1827 and 1828 under the assumed name of Edgar Perry. While there, Poe was gathering material for the first detective stories in the English language, including The Goldbug, which was set on Sullivan’s Island. He also created the first American detective—C. Auguste Dupin, who was the model for Sherlock Holmes and other modern detectives. The time he spent in South Carolina had a major impact on his literary career, and Charlestonians are certain that the ghost of Annabel Lee still wanders in a downtown cemetery. (Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

Henry Timrod’s stint as a war correspondent for South Carolina’s Charleston Mercury was brief, but the Civil War and his experiences at the battlefront were the inspiration for poems that created his legacy as an important 19th century Southern poet. His poetry, which is usually included in Southern studies and most anthologies of American poetry, was “borrowed” in August 2006 by Bob Dylan for the lyrics of the best-selling album “Modern Times.” (Presentation lasts 35 to 45 minutes and includes a PowerPoint; a screen or blank wall will be needed.)

One of the most frequently reported apparitions in America has been the ghost–or at least the presence–of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, and like other states, dozens of tales of ghosts and haunted places have found their way into South Carolina’s mainstream media. Most have their origins in the 19th century and most in historic places. Some places have only one or two supernatural stories while others like Charleston, Columbia, Beaufort and Edgefield have numerous sightings and unexplained phenomena. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, the stories will leave you wondering.

Ruth Miller

Having lived all over America and journeyed through much of the world, Ruth Miller is a former high school teacher with many lives. As a certified Charleston guide, she co-founded Charleston Strolls, the city’s first daily walking tour and grew that tour business for over twenty years. Since she sold the business, she has worked as an independent speaker and tour guide. Her wide-ranging interests have led her to write the children’s book, Charleston Charlie, and co-author Charleston’s Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon: Witness to HistoryTouring the Tombstones: Guides to Charleston’s 18th Century GraveyardsThe Angel Oak Story, and Slavery to Civil Rights: A Walking Tour Guide to African-American Charleston. As a public historian, educator and storyteller, she enjoys tying LowCountry history into the American story and worldwide events. She makes a special effort to relate her presentations to an individual group’s interests and experience.

Did you know the author of Amazing Grace sold a shipload of slaves here? Charleston was the center of the English slave trade. Estimates are over 40% of the Nameless Enslaved sold in all thirteen colonies were sold here. This presentation tells the story of historic Charleston from the perspective of the African-American experience. During the chronologically organized talk, participants will view seldom seen engravings, paintings and photographs that show and tell a story that has been lost and buried through time. Learn about the Nameless Enslaved and free persons of color, Reconstruction and Jim Crow to the modern-day fight for civil rights with life stories of real people who walked these streets. By the end of this exploration, participants will have a new and important understanding of African-American history.

(Requires projector.)

Bringing a conference or organization to Charleston? Introduce our city and the Carolina LowCountry with this entertaining, educational talk. Ruth Miller’s program is not “What to see and do,” but rather, sets the historic scene, making your stay here both interesting and worthwhile. The presentation ties over 350 years of local history into the American story and worldwide events, while incorporating places and people of special interest to your audience. Whether individual attendees explore Charleston on their own, or group activities are held off site, an understanding of our area and its story will give context to your experience here. As Miller reveals the Charleston story, everyone will view their surroundings, here and at home, with new understanding.

(No projector required. A handout is provided.)

Skulls and crossed bones. Weeping willows and rosebuds. Did you know Charleston has more 18th century burial grounds than any city in the United States? Find out why on this visual stroll through historic colonial and antebellum cemeteries as we explore a religious diversity unknown in the other thirteen colonies. Moreover, Charleston’s ancient graveyards are art galleries harboring history, literature and legends. Discover this unique portrait of the past found in over a dozen old graveyards. This is not a ghost walk. This is an intriguing look at some of the finest 18th and 19th century memorials in the country, the fascinating tales surrounding them and the people they commemorate.

(Requires projector.)

This presentation tells a story of international trade, natural history, and science from the days of exploration & colonization. This was a time of transfer, the movement of people, animals and plants; it is the Age of the Natural Historians who looked around the world and tried to understand what they saw. Carolina has an amazing part of this story to impart – connections to the Royal Society of England with John Lawson, Mark Catesby who documented and illustrated the birds and animals of the Carolinas one hundred years before Audubon, Linnaeus in Sweden, women gardeners, and Bartram of Philadelphia. Learn why the gardenia is named after a Charleston immigrant who was especially interested in collecting fish skins. This presentation is about the times and the people that connected Charleston history to scientific inquiry and experimentation from the late 1600s into the eighteenth century.

(Requires projector.)

Margaret Oakes

Margaret J. Oakes is a Professor of English at Furman University and has been teaching at Furman since 1996. Her academic areas of teaching and research are English Renaissance literature, including such authors as George Herbert, William Shakespeare, John Milton, and Margaret Cavendish. Her avocational interests include British detective fiction and children’s fantasy literature, and she has published on poet George Herbert, mystery writer Dorothy Sayers and Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling. She is finishing a manuscript for McFarland on gender representation in Shakespearean productions. Prior to her academic career she practiced securities regulation law in Chicago. An Illinois native, she is a graduate of the University of Illinois (BA and JD) and Stanford University (PhD).

The history and practice of the liberal arts in the western tradition fundamentally underlie how we think about education in America. This wide-ranging talk explores educational institutions from the classical period to the present, focusing on the development of universities from medieval monastic houses to the colleges of Oxford to the American system based on German universities.

Elizabeth I was regarded with awe by her people in her own lifetime, but she frequently communicated with her subjects as well as her fellow monarchs and counselors. Her avenues of communication were much more limited than those used by most politicians nowadays; Elizabeth only had at her disposal official written communications and public appearances. However, we also have the benefit of being able to read dozens of Elizabeth’s letters from throughout her life. This other means of communication – written messages, in the form of personal, diplomatic, and political letters – were created with the same attention to the delicacy of the situation, her relationship with the speaker, and, most importantly, her underlying objective in writing the letter in the first place. This talk will explore the surprisingly distinctive voices in Elizabeth’s letters as she assesses the relative degrees of power between her and the recipient of the letter, plays the recipient’s desires and weaknesses, and offers the right mixture of praise, conciliation, advice, and sometimes veiled threats, depending on the situation.

The 1920’s and 30’s were the highlight decades of the British “cozy”: the relatively bloodless type of murder mystery that one can read curled by up by the fireplace with a strong cup of tea. This talk will trace the development of the genre of British detective fiction from its antecedents such as Wilke Collins and G.K. Chesterton to its masters, including Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and Margery Allingham.

Many of our contemporary notions of Heaven, Hell, and Eden come not just from the Bible, but from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Milton did not contradict anything in Genesis, but built from centuries of interpretation and synthesis to create the most powerful images in English literature. He is also not, contrary to popular opinion, misogynistic or daunting to read! We will explore some selected scenes from this beautiful, tragic, and occasionally funny story to uncover Milton’s understanding of human and divine relationships, his perceptive views on self-knowledge and arrogance, and his belief that humans must go through tragedy to learn the hardest lessons.

We may assume that 17th century poets, especially two who are priests, are boring, rigid, sanctimonious, and irrelevant to how contemporary life approaches spirituality. John Donne and George Herbert were, however, people like us – with families, career frustrations, facing illnesses and death, grappling with their relationship to God and their parishioners. We will look at a selection of Donne and Herbert’s divine poetry to see how they reflect our own concerns in ways that are eloquent, thoughtful, sometimes reassuring and sometimes provoking. No experience reading poetry required!

The expression “The Bard” does Shakespeare and playgoers a huge disservice. The guy with the ruff and the beard is “too highbrow,” “out of touch,” and “stuffy.” Sometimes, however, Shakespeare is raunchy, extraordinarily violent, and witty, as reflected in numerous phrases and concepts in our language. This session will explore some of the lesser produced plays such as Titus AndronicusCoriolanus, and Troilus and Cressida to show how Shakespeare explores harsh emotion, the shock value of violence, and the cruelty of individuals as part of the range of human experience. No previous Shakespeare experience needed.

Jane Austen is all about numbers: how much per year is someone worth; how many suitors does a woman have; how many possible heirs might someone produce? These questions are not just for her female characters, as who you choose to marry in early 19th century England (as most places in most times) will affect the quality of your life no matter who you are. In addition, your social class also determined how vulnerable you might be to both those seeking fortunes and other benefits of a romantic relationship. We will go beyond the intricate plots and absorbing characters to look at the social and economic background of which Austen and her characters are always acutely aware. Favorites such as EmmaSense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice will be the major texts discussed in the presentation

Kate Salley Palmer

Kate is a native of Orangeburg and a graduate of the University of South Carolina.  While at USC she did a cartoon strip for The Gamecock satirizing the school’s administration, entitled “Terrible Tom and the Boys”.  In 1978, Kate became the first full-time staff editorial cartoonist for a SC newspaper at The Greenville News. Kate’s political cartoons were nationally syndicated in more than 200 newspapers, and in 1980 she won the Freedom Foundation’s George Washington Honor Medal for Editorial Cartooning.  In 2000, one of her cartoons made Newsweek’s Special Edition, “100 Years in Cartoons” – the only woman political cartoonist featured. In 2006, Clemson University’s Digital Press published Kate’s memoir, Growing Up Cartoonist in the Baby Boom South, which got a good review in Comics Journal

In the 1990’s Kate began writing and illustrating picture books for children, and has had over 25 published by national and regional publishers. How Many Feet in the Bed?, published by Simon and Schuster in 1991, and Octopus Hug, Boyds Mills Press in 1993, received great reviews and are still in print. In 2000, Kate and husband, Jim, a retired Clemson professor, started Warbranch Press to publish Kate’s picture books. Warbranch Press has published 10 books and has sold over 60,000 copies, with the South Carolina-themed books, such as The Pink HousePalmetto-Symbol of Courage and Francis Marion and the Legend of the Swamp Fox, the most popular. 

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Kate produced an informative cartoon coloring book, 2016 Race for the White House: A Grownup Coloring BookShe did another campaign coloring book for 2020.

Kate makes presentations to teacher groups, civic clubs and other gatherings.  Her topics vary.  Cartoons; stories from cartoonist’s conventions; various picture books, and the 400- page graphic novel of Pride and Prejudice she did in 2019.

She is a member of the AAEC (American Association of Editorial Cartoonists) and the National Cartoonist Society’s Southeastern Branch.  Kate’s original state cartoons are housed in the USC Library’s SC Political Collections and her national cartoons and papers are archived at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library at Ohio State University. She learned recently that the Clemson University Press is planning to publish a second edition of her memoir, “Growing Up Cartoonist…”

Kate and Jim live in Clemson. For more about Kate and her books go to www.warbranchpress.com.

Kate has written four picture books about our state’s history: Palmetto – Symbol of Courage, about the famous Revolutionary War battle that inspired the color and symbols on our beautiful state flag; Francis Marion and the Legend of the Swamp Fox, the story of South Carolina’s most famous Revolutionary War hero; Almost Invisible – Black Patriots of the American Revolution and First South Carolinians, about our state’s native people. These books have become very popular in schools and libraries as resources for teaching our state’s history. Kate makes presentations to various groups about how she did the research for non-fiction writing, with emphasis on getting the facts right.

Kate has always been interested in political commentary. She was a staff editorial cartoonist and nationally syndicated for several years, and her cartoons appeared both locally and nationally. She is now doing cartoons for a weekly paper, the Greenville Journal, and her latest book is a coloring book, 2016 Race for the White House: A Grownup Coloring Book. She is often asked to make presentations to civic groups and others about political cartooning and how it’s evolving, especially in light of recent controversies about the work of some editorial cartoonists.

In 1999, Warbranch Press published The Little Chairs, a story based on real life experience in Kate’s family. Kate’s father, a WWII veteran, was chronically depressed and would retreat to a dark corner when he didn’t feel like participating in family activities. The book shows in vivid colors and narrative how Kate’s mother eventually got her father to rejoin the family using the task of painting little chairs. In talks, Kate emphasizes that the children in the story or the Mama didn’t make the Daddy sad, and further that they couldn’t make him well again. This book does not mean to suggest that painting chairs is a “cure” for depression, but does illustrate that the love and compassion of a family member can have an effect, if only temporary.

Kate and Jim started Warbranch Press when self-publishing was an almost unheard of idea. Now, print-on-demand is a widely used process, and options are available for publishing services from many sources. Jim and Kate have given workshops on self-publishing as an alternative to conventional publishing, emphasizing that producing a quality product and marketing it successfully are the keys to success for authors wishing to publish their own book.

Gerald Pitts

Gerald Y. Pitts is the only South Carolina member of ALP, the Association of Lincoln Presenters. ALP is a national organization of approximately 166 members whose purpose is to further knowledge and appreciation of the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln was a boyhood hero of Mr. Pitts (along with Joe DiMaggio, Roy Rogers, and Mark Twain). When Mr. Pitts read about ALP in 2007, he realized that he, like Lincoln, was 6’4″ tall, wore a size 14 N shoe, and had four sons, so he became a Lincoln presenter.

Gerald Pitts has appeared in schools, libraries, civic meetings, conventions, and other venues throughout South Carolina, from Walhalla to Charleston. He was also featured in the two-hour PBS documentary, Looking for Lincoln that aired on February 11, 2009. “The Peggy Denny Show” devoted a 30-minute interview to Lincoln on Chanel 16 in Greenville on May 24, 2010.

Mr. Pitts spent 30 years in the Army on active duty and in the reserve and was awarded The Soldiers Medal in the name of President Reagan in 1985. He graduated from Presbyterian College on a National Merit Scholarship and holds graduate degrees in microbiology and counseling psychology. He taught every science course in the curriculum from grades 7 through 12 during 12 years at Cambridge Academy.

He is married to Jymmie Nell, owner of the Bootery, and they have six grandchildren. Even though they were married on a Friday the 13th, they celebrated their 46th anniversary in December 2009. Jymmie sometimes appears as Mary Todd Lincoln at evening programs.

**Gerald Pitts requests an additional honorarium or travel reimbursement to the $250 contributed by SC Humanities.

Gerald Y. Pitts performs an original one-act play as Abraham Lincoln. You will hear Abe recount stories of his life from boyhood to presidency. Programs are available for any grade level and of any length.

A traveling display of Lincoln and Civil War memorabilia and artifacts is available as a separate program. It requires a dedicated classroom for the day and at least six folding or library size tables. One or more classes can be rotated through the exhibit during a period of perhaps four repetitions; commentary and historical explanation will be given by the presenter who may or may not dress as Lincoln. Some of the objects can be seen nowhere else and include items of high value like Lincoln-signed documents to tintypes, cannonballs from Charleston harbor, goose quill pens, CDVs, a Confederate knapsack, original Currier & Ives prints, surgeon’s kits, letters, battlefield dug artifacts, over a thousand minie balls, an extensive exhibit of drummer boys and powder boys, and many other objects.

Tom Poland

Tom writes about the South, its people, land, culture, and nature. The author of seven books about South Carolina, he travels back roads looking for forgotten places, captivating people, and vestiges of bygone times, many of which appear in his columns and features. Much of that work finds its way into books. A Georgian and University of Georgia alumnus, he lives in Columbia where he writes about Georgialina, the region he calls his native land. In all, he’s written ten books and has three others underway. Governor Henry McMaster conferred The Order of the Palmetto upon Tom on October 26, 2018.

In “Abandonment Vs. Preservation,” Tom uses 33 photographs from the back roads that showcase places meriting preservation, places falling into beautiful wreckage as they crumble, and places other have had the foresight to preserve. Especially revealing are “roadside museums” where self-appointed curators have established memorials to earlier times. The message is simple: Architecture is a record of man’s activities and thus do tenant homes, old barns, country stores, rock chimneys, old churches, and “See Rock City” barns take a place alongside forts and mansions as places worthy of preservation.

Tom travels many a road off the beaten path. Three legs across South Carolina on Highway 76 reveals the state’s rich and surprising character. Other journeys have taken him from the Chattooga River to the Glendale Ruins to the Lowcountry. A surviving drive-in theater, the Kings Highway, a covered bridge, nuclear weapons reactors, poke salad picking, and primitive barrier islands will take you on a journey too as he shares his experiences along the back roads.

Tom often writes about the vanishing ways, places, and traditions that have blessed the South with a sense of place: small towns that close at noon Wednesdays, vanishing country stores, telephoning fish, wasp attacks in church, casting spells to remove warts, and more. He brings the Southland of yesteryear alive … despite change and newcomers the South lives on.

Before walking out as SC Wildlife‘s managing editor to freelance, Tom made a road trip with photographer Robert Clark in search of a story. They found it and “Tenant Homes, Testament To Hard Times,” landed them a book contract. That book led to four others. Their initial 100-mile journey in time would lead to more than 50,000 miles as they documented a beautiful vision of South Carolina.

An illustrated talk takes the audience behind the scenes to a haunted cemetery, South Carolina’s oldest bridge, North America’s only tea plantation, a wild ride down the Chattooga, an old mill where a tractor killed one of the last men making stone-ground cornmeal, a colony of carnivorous pitcher plants, forest fire entrapment while photographing rocky shoals spider lilies, and more.

Tom’s habit of photographing old gas pumps at country stores had him cross paths with the grandson of a man killed for $500—murder for hire. The mayhem that ensued made history, involved Strom Thurmond, and led to eight people’s death, all because a mule kicked a calf in the head. The sole electrocution of a woman in South Carolina took place accompanied by a scandalous rumor.

The South our forebears knew lingers … rivers free of dams, old timey religion camp meetings, classic BBQ haunts, old home places, rice plantations, a night on a primitive barrier island untouched by man, the High Hills of Santee, and a sentimental journey down US Highway 1. Experience why the South remains iconic. Fading but hanging on the Southland of yesteryear lives on.

Tom shares experiences about the legendary Goat Man, a colonel who turned from war to camellias, a sweet man who ended up homeless, and an unforgettable teacher. Enduring places include adventures at a bus station as a ticket agent, filming a wildlife refuge’s lovely isolation, the smell of rain on dirt roads, a kudzu-covered land, and a summer place where life changed, and a night journey by train from Columbia’s Lincoln Street to Florida and back.

Tom wrote Save The Last Dance For Me (USC Press), the story of how the blues evolved into beach music and how the shag evolved to become the state dance of North and South Carolina. What surprised him most while writing the history of the shag and the Society of Stranders was a revealing glimpse into his own past. How the Beatles and other British rock groups idolized Elvis and commandeered the Mississippi Blues to storm America with its rocking and rolling British Invasion.

“South Carolina Country Roads” takes readers on a journey down forgotten routes and lesser-traveled byways. Join Tom as he shares photos and discusses what he discovered along the 10,000 miles he drove deliberately avoiding the interstates. Discover the bones of the land, the DNA of real life—rural icons, old home places, oddities, vanquished communities, and relics from yesteryear. It’s like resurrecting your grandparents and visiting them once again. During his talk, somewhere down a road few consider, you’ll find a place called Obscurity. It will put you back in touch with your roots, and do so in a beautiful way.

Hear how a mule kick killed eight people, how to murder with voodoo, why we used to sit up with the dead, and learn of a haunted French Huguenot Cemetery.

An illustrated talk based on Tom’s new book published by the USC Press … From Woods Bay State Park to Carolina bays in the coastal plain, Savannah River Site, Georgia, and North Carolina, Tom takes the audience on a journey to unique landforms some once believed a meteorite bombardment created. From Venus flytraps to pit vipers and white sand rims reminiscent of snow, it’s a journey to and through one of the world’s more mysterious landforms, which at times are reminiscent of Africa.

(An illustrated talk) Tom brings back the Sunday drive with memories and sights to be seen today. Times were mom, dad and the kids would head out to see the countryside. Back in the Burma-Shave days, mom-and-pop drive-ins and gas station biscuits fed folks. Cheap gas filled cars, and people made Sunday drives through a land where See Rock City barns, sawdust piles and trains and junkyards gave them plenty to see. Men in seersucker suits ran old stores with oscillating fans, and if the kids ate too much penny candy, grandma had a home remedy for them. It was a time for dinner on church grounds, yard art and old-fashioned petunias. Author Tom Poland revisits disappearing traditions.

An illustrated, candid talk takes the audience back to 1950’s rural Georgia where Tom recalls momentous times hanging out at the local Confederate monument, days playing football, and summers on his granddad’s farm. It was there he spent days with his childhood best friend, Jesse Lee “sweetie Boy” Elam, a black boy. Neither had any notions of racism and to this day they remain friends. The influence of country stores, moonshine tales, outhouses,  memories of burnt grandparents’ homes, family reunions Sunday church, early dreams of writing, and more come together to fashion a Southern writer and his views on today’s Southland.

Aïda Rogers

Aïda Rogers is a writer and editor who, like it or not, has found plenty of material in her home state. She is the creator and editor of State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love (University of South Carolina Press), a three-volume anthology series that includes stories by 108 Palmetto State writers. Her articles have won national and regional awards, and in 2018, her work on My Tour through the Asylum: A Southern Integrationist’s Memoir (USC Press), received an IPPY Award silver medal. At her alma mater, the University of South Carolina, she writes for the South Carolina Honors College, where she teaches “Finding Your Voice: Writing and Editing for Life.”  In her “Everything and Nothing” column, distributed by the South Carolina Press Association, she writes about whatever she wants, from racism and literacy to forgotten perfumes and the necessity of friends. A native of Lexington, Aïda works from an old house in Columbia and a new porch in McClellanville, where she lives with her husband, Wally, and their two rascally Boykins.   

When writer/editor Aïda Rogers asked other writers in South Carolina to write about the one place in the state that means the most to them, what she got was … complicated. And what love isn’t? South Carolina’s many conflicting characteristics have marked its many writers, whether their genres are poetry or fiction, journalism or history. Composers of those kinds of writing, and those who specialize in food, sports, children’s literature, the outdoors, and other subjects, weigh in on what Pat Conroy describes as a state that’s more of a “cult” than anything else. Rogers gathered the stories and compiled them into a series of anthologies published by the University of South Carolina Press. In State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, a variety of regionally and nationally known writers describe fading farms, small hometowns, obscure eating places, grand and crumbling sports arenas, lakes and rivers, islands and mountains, country roads, and places that no longer exist. These collections are for tourists who want a different kind of vacation—one that offers a deeper look into why South Carolina is the way it is.

Ron Roth

Ron Roth is former director and CEO of the Reading Public Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, and director of the Nebraska Museum of Art of the University of Nebraska. He has curated or co-curated numerous exhibitions from the Patriotic Paintings of N.C. Wyeth to a major exhibition with international glass artist Dale Chihuly. As an independent curator and consultant, he researched and wrote the script for the permanent exhibition area of the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania, and its exhibit on the Underground Railroad in central Pennsylvania.

Roth’s recently published book, The Civil War in the South Carolina: How a Confederate Artillery Battery and a Black union Regiment Defined the War, received outstanding critical praise. The U. S. Army’s On Point: The Journal of Army History stated, the book “masterfully tells the story of the Civil War in the Lowcountry in vivid detail.”

In addition, Roth curated and designed an exhibition for the Historic Beaufort Foundation in Beaufort, South Carolina, on the history of the Beaufort Volunteer Artillery.

The story of the Underground Railroad is one of the most epic in American History.  This presentation describes the heroic efforts of African Americans and whites to hide and guide runaway slaves in their desperate journeys to freedom in the north and in Canada.  Highlights of the presentation include first person narratives of escaping runaway slaves and their encounters with slave catchers and kidnappers; the courageous work of railroad “conductors” like Harriet Tubman; and the role of plantation slavery, African American churches and slave uprisings like the Stono Rebellion in South Carolina in generating the growth of the Underground Railroad.

The battlefield monuments at the Gettysburg National Military Park that were sculpted and dedicated in the decades following the Civil War include some of the most powerful and expressive works of 19th and 20th Century American sculpture.  The work of some of America’s leading sculptors is represented on the battlefield including Augustus St. Gaudens and Gutzon Borglum—the sculptor of Mt. Rushmore.   This presentation explores  the sculptor’s and stone mason’s art at Gettysburg  and  how this art expressed the public’s changing perceptions and sentiments related to the battle and its significance.

John James Audubon’s Birds of America ranks as one of the greatest achievements in American art. Its groundbreaking format depicting 435 of North America’s known bird species life-size and in habitat captured the imagination of the public and catapulted him into international fame.  This presentation provides audiences with insight into Audubon’s ambitious, self-styled role as adventurer, artist and natural scientist.  In addition to providing an overview of Audubon and his era, the presentation focuses on his work in the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The Beaufort Volunteer Artillery is one of the longest-serving military units in the history of the United States.  Its service includes the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, World War I and World War II.  This presentation will focus on its Civil War exploits in over a dozen military engagements.

The history of the Silk Road in Central Asia covers a vast panorama of history, art, religion and commerce over the past 2,500 years.  A major trade route linking Mediterranean and Far East cultures, its story includes exotic ancient cities like the legendary Samarkand.  Explorers of the Silk Road are highlighted in this presentation as well as the art and religion of this unique melting pot of cultures.

The Hudson River School artists were a group of 19th Century American Artists who painted primarily in the Hudson River Valley of New York in the Catskills and Adirondack mountains.  Their work transformed American landscape art by depicting nature realistically, while endowing it with spiritual meaning.  This introduction to the Hudson River School artists includes work by Thomas Cole, Asher B. Durand, Sanford Gifford, Jasper Cropsey and John Kensett.

The art of leading American artists and photographers of the American Civil War era provides unique and compelling images of the experiences of soldiers, civilians and slaves. From the battlefield to the home front, this art includes insights into the viewpoints that motivated both sides of the conflict and eloquent depictions of the human face of the war.  Many of America’s leading 19th century artists including Frederick Church, Winslow Homer and Eastman Johnson created Civil War related art, and some, like northern artist Sanford Gifford and southerner Conrad Wise Chapman were soldiers themselves. This presentation  includes recent scholarship that has demonstrated how significant Civil War art can be to further our understanding of the War.

The Stono Rebellion on September 9, 1739, was the largest slave uprising in North America.  Twenty-one whites and approximately 40 African slaves were killed in this bloody confrontation just twenty miles from Charleston.  This presentation examines the social and political context of the South Carolina Lowcountry’s plantation system and the growth of slavery in the early Colonial era; the events which sparked the revolt and the brutal struggle that ensued; and the aftermath of the event and its impact on the future of slavery in South Carolina.

As the premiere illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post for nearly half a century, no other American artist was more popular with the public than Norman Rockwell. Americans saw in Rockwell’s art a reflection of their values, their strengths and their foibles. Despite his easy-going, pipe-smoking facade, he was a lonely man who suffered from depression. This presentation explores the life and art of America’s unofficial “Artist-in-Chief,” and the unique and lasting contribution he made to American life.

One can hardly think of a more revolutionary and significant art movement than that of 19th century Impressionism, a style so influential and popular it continues to flourish today. This presentation examines the American Impressionist movement, its leading artists, and their transformation of the American art scene.

Once celebrated as “the Queen of the South,” Charleston, South Carolina, was left devastated by the Civil War–a faded reflection of its antebellum glory.  For 50 years following the war, the city struggled to overcome economic and cultural stagnation. Then in 1915, a group of artists and writers rediscovered the City’s innate beauty and artistic possibilities, fueling an extraordinary cultural and economic revival.  This presentation will explore the art of the Charleston Renaissance and its role in transforming a depressed southern capital into one of the world’s premier, tourist destinations.

Enjoy the fascinating back story of the Winnie the Pooh books and how they came to be written.  How a Canadian army officer found a baby bear in his home town of Winnipeg (hence the name Winnie), took him to London as his army unit’s mascot, donated him to the London Zoo where a young visitor named Christopher Robin saw him and became his friend, and  then, well, the rest is history isn’t it?  Join speaker Ron Roth and his guests Christopher, Eeyore, Kanga, Roo, Piglet, Owl  and Heffalump for a nostalgic exploration into one of the world’s most beloved children’s books.

In the aftermath of a brutal Civil War, many southerners justified their sacrifice by creating a romanticized version of the War. Prominent people like South Carolina’s Wade Hampton and LaSalle Corbell Pickett, widow of the famed Confederate General, promoted a version of the War that justified the South’s secession, casting doubt on the real causes of the conflict. This presentation explores this 19th century manifestation of “fake news” and its lasting consequences on the national memory and understanding of the Civil War.

One of the most compelling testimonies to the horrors of the holocaust are the more than 30,000 surviving works created by artists while imprisoned in ghettos and concentration camps during the years of the Nazi Third Reich.  Many of these artists perished, others survived.  The body of work they created is extraordinary in its quality given the limited media at their disposal, compelling in its humanity and hope, and utterly courageous in the face of the terror and suffering they faced daily.  The lecture  explores the work of many of these artists and discuss the question whether art can provide meaningful emotional and spiritual sustenance in the face of personal catastrophe. As a young man, backing-packing through Europe and the Middle East, RON ROTH visited the Flossenburg concentration camp in Germany, an experience that transformed his view of life and its meaning.

Kimberly Simms

While dedicating some of her time between her work as a teaching artist and her writing for young adults, Kimberly Simms is an award winning poet in her own right. She was recently named as the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-In-Residence. Simms is primarily inspired by the history and people of the South. Simms holds a Masters in English from Clemson University with a Creative Writing Thesis on the textile mills of South Carolina. Kimberly Jane Simms has been sharing her poems with a variety of audiences since she started running poetry slams in her twenties. She was a member of the Greenville Slam Team that won the South East Regional Poetry Slam in 1998. Since then she has gone on to gain recognition from both esteemed literary editors, as well as live audiences. Her poetry has appeared in numerous literary journals such as Poem, The South Carolina Review, The Asheville Poetry Review, Kakalak, and Eclipse. She has been a featured performer and reader internationally at festivals and venues including the Battersea Arts Center London, The Institute of Contemporary Arts London, The Chopin Theater Chicago, The Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, The Peace Center, the LEAF Festival, and Artisphere, as well as numerous other arts establishments and universities. She is currently finishing her first young adult novel.

(Grades 4 -12 OR Adults.)
This reading, led by poet Kimberly Simms, connects audiences to the excitement of contemporary poetry. Kimberly Simms will share a variety of original and well-known engaging poems that explore the life and history of South Carolina. Kimberly Simms has garnered recognition for her poetry not only from esteemed literary journals, but also from national poetry festivals. Her poems have been featured on both television, radio, and in print. For libraries, this reading can include book talks tailored to that library’s collection. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.

 (All Ages)
This poetry reading and performance will present a variety of original poems that will appeal to a broad audience on themes related to South Carolina. These poems are family friendly and entertaining to all ages. Audiences will enjoy crowd favorites such as Simms’ Turner Speaks My South poem “My South’s Boys” and her inspirational “Small Spaces.” This collection of light, lively, and humorous poems are a great way to bring the poetic arts to your community festival.  Simms has been featured at The Red, White, and Blue Festival (Greenville, SC), Artisphere Festival (Greenville, SC), The TRAM Festvial (Travelers Rest, SC), The Art on the Trail Festival (Travelers Rest, SC), The LEAF Festival (Asheville, NC,) and many more. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.

 (K-8)
This workshop weaves together history and poetry to explore Southern themes through the poetry of Carl Sandburg. After introducing Carl Sandburg, Kimberly Simms will lead the group in a poetry writing AND/OR theater activity inspired by Carl Sandburg’s poetry. This experience can be tailored for different age groups and experience levels.  Kimberly Simms is the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-In-Residence. The reading will finish with a question and answer session.

(Adults)
After a disaster, communities find comfort in poems that speak to their sense of loss. Whether dealing with personal grief or processing a disaster, individuals can be overwhelmed with emotions. Yet a special type of healing comes from reading and hearing words that echo your own complex feelings. In this reading and discussion, poet Kimberly Simms will share poems on disaster and grief to provide a medium for dialogue. Attendees will be encouraged to find a sense of community through discussion of contemporary poetry.  This dialogue can be tailored to help communities deal with specific events.

(K-12 OR Adults)
In this workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in writing monologue style poems in the voice of a favorite literary character or historical figure. This workshop works particularly well when exploring a pre-chosen work of fiction or historical figure as part of a larger celebration, conference, or unit. The workshop includes a pre-writing activity, a craft lesson, and examples to scaffold all writing levels. The workshop will finish with sharing and a brief discussion.

 (K-12 OR Adults)
In this delicious workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in writing their own “recipe” style poems. Attendees will also discuss several sample poems to help them explore ideas about food and life. The workshop includes a structured poetic form and a craft lesson so that writers of any level can participate. The workshop will finish with time for sharing and discussion.

(Grades 4-12 OR Adults) In this hands-on workshop, poet and educator Kimberly Simms will lead attendees in performing well-known contemporary poems or pre-written original poems. The workshop will feature a short craft lesson on voice and blocking. The workshop will also include a discussion on the history and current state of poetry slams. The session will end with an informal performance, as well as a question and answer session. Kimberly Simms is a certified slam master with the national organization Poetry Slam Inc. She is a former South East Regional Slam Champion (Greenville Slam Team 1998). She was a regional SC judge for the 2016 Poetry Out Loud Competition.

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn Smith is a former newspaper reporter and editor who now spends her time writing and speaking about history. She is the author of  “The Gatekeeper,” the first biography of FDR’s private secretary and de facto White House Chief of Staff Marguerite A. LeHand, and “Gertie: The Fabulous Life of Gertrude Sanford Legendre,” which won the Benjamin Franklin Gold Award from the National Independent Book Publishers Association. Her newest book is “Baptists and Bootleggers: A Prohibition Expedition Through the South…with Cocktail Recipes.” Kathryn lives in Anderson, S.C. with her husband, Leo.

Marguerite A. LeHand worked for President Roosevelt for more than 20 years as his private secretary, counselor, confidante and friend. In this presentation, Smith wears period costume and speaks with Missy’s Boston accent about her time with FDR. Mid-talk, she removes Missy’s hat, tells “the rest of the story,” and takes questions from the audience about Missy’s life and the writing of the book.

Aiken County native and long-time Berkeley County resident Legendre lived a big life.  She was a New York rich girl and debutante, equestrienne and big-game hunter, flapper and party-goer, explorer and naturalist, society bride and socialite, South Carolina plantation owner and hostess, World War II spy and German prisoner of war, philanthropist and grande dame of Charleston society and, finally, a conservationist. Follow the 20th century with Gertie, who was born in 1902 and died in 2000. Illustrated lecture.

One of the first true “power couples,” the Roosevelts were leaders of tremendous influence in the twentieth century, leading America for 12 tumultuous years, from 1933 to 1945. Eleanor Roosevelt is usually credited with creating the role of the modern First Lady. However, their marriage was a difficult one, marked by betrayal, bitterness and anger—right until the president’s death. Illustrated lecture.

Few Americans remember that FDR, besides leading our country through the Great Depression and World War II, was also the founder of the National Foundation of Infantile Paralysis, better known as the March of Dimes. This charity fought the terrible scourge of polio with both assistance to the stricken and research to find a vaccine, finally working itself out of a job when the Salk Vaccine was perfected in 1955. (It took up the cause of ending birth defects after that.) The March of Dimes enabled anyone to be a polio fighter — all they had to do was give a dime — and became an innovator in philanthropy that all modern charities unconsciously use as a model. This is a lively, personal look at the polio crusade — which continues today to mop up the last of this disease in third world countries. Illustrated lecture.

Many years before the production and sale of alcohol was banned in the United States by the Eighteenth Amendment, the forces of temperance waged political warfare with the purveyors of alcohol. Most Southern states went dry long before the rest of the country did, and as a result, had a ready-made pipeline of moonshine-makers and rum-runners when Prohibition went into effect in 1920. In this illustrated lecture, you’ll meet such colorful characters as saloon wrecker Carry Nation, gangster Al Capone (who made many visits to the South) and New York socialite and part-time Charleston resident Pauline Morton Sabin, who led the charge for repeal with an army of “Sabine women.” Illustrated lecture.

The little actress was the nation’s top box office draw during the worst years of the Great Depression and helped Americans forget their troubles as she sang and danced away the troubles of the characters she played. She worked through her childhood, while her parents spent her money, but went on to successful later careers as a television actress and diplomat. Illustrated lecture.

The Roaring Twenties lives large in our imaginations: flappers, jazz, bathtub gin, gangsters — the 1920s were all that. But the 20s was also a time of tremendous prosperity for some and abject poverty for others, especially in the rural South. For the rising middle class, there were marvels to buy with the new installment payments, like Model T Fords, electric refrigerators and irons, and radio sets that brought the world into their living rooms. It was a decade of three presidents (not one of whom was elected to a second term), widening opportunities for women, and a tremendous migration north by Black Americans escaping the oppression of poverty and Jim Crow laws in the South. Illustrated lecture. 

Jacob Steere-Williams

Jacob Steere-Williams is a historian of epidemic disease, particularly in nineteenth and early-twentieth century Britain and the former British colonies. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota and began teaching at the College in 2011. Dr. Steere-Williams is a faculty affiliate with a number of campus programs, including the British Studies minor, the Medical Humanities minor, the Geography minor, the Carolina Lowcountry & Atlantic World Program (CLAW), and the Urban Studies Program. He also works closely with the Waring Historical Library on the campus MUSC, where he currently serves as the Vice-President of the Waring Historical Society. Professor Steere-Williams is the author of the 2020 book The Filth Disease: Typhoid Fever and the Practices of Epidemiology in Victorian England, published by the University of Rochester Press in the Studies in Medical History series.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left us with a lot of questions about the role, the place, and repeated occurrence of new diseases. This lecture considers COVID-19 in light of several past pandemics, starting with the global spread of disease in the 19th century, turning to the decline of infectious diseases in the 20th century, and finally, the reemergence of infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, Ebola, and H1N1 as precursors to our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This presentation places in historical context the long history of how pandemics and epidemics of infectious disease have shaped the American history and the history of the Atlantic World. We will highlight the role of transatlantic slavery, the establishment of the plantation economy, and the last social and political impacts of disease on our world today.

From its earliest inception as a European settlement, South Carolina has been a hotbed of both infectious disease and for innovative approaches to curbing disease and establishing public health. This lecture focuses on the fascinating history of medicine in South Carolina from the 17th to the 21st centuries.

This lecture tells the story of the largest medical school in the south, M.U.S.C., whose 19th century origins played a significant role in the history of Charleston, the U.S. South, and American medical education. The rich history of the medical school touches on matters of race, medical experimentation, innovative surgery, nursing, and public health.

Donald Sweeper

Donald Sweeper has been doing reenactments of famous African Americans for nearly 10 years. He also does lectures and storytelling about the Gullah Culture for large and small groups of all age levels. He has taught in both public and private education at the elementary and middle school grade levels. During the summer of 2014 he was selected by the Greenville Chautauqua organization to portray African American Congressman and Civil War Hero, Robert Smalls. He did (8) performances during the 10-day festival at different sites which included Greenville Technical College, Hughes Main Library at Spartanburg, and Warren Wilson College near Asheville, North Carolina. His Web Address is donaldsweeperpresents.net

**Donald Sweeper requests an additional honorarium to the $250 contributed by SC Humanities.**

This is a stage reenactment which is approximately 35 minutes long in which Donald Sweeper portrays Robert Smalls Chautauqua-style, as if the current year is 1895. Donald Sweeper dramatizes the commandeering of the Planter boat on the early morning of May 13, 1862 as Robert Smalls piloted through the Charleston Harbor undetected by the Confederates and sailed past Fort Sumter on the way to the Union blockade forces situated out into the Atlantic. At the end of this performance, Donald Sweeper entertains questions in character  as Robert Smalls and then later takes the beard and mustache off and answers personal questions as well.

This performance, in which Donald Sweeper portrays Dr. Ernest E. Just Chautauqua-style, is about 35 minutes in length. As Dr. Ernest E. Just, he tells the story of how the doctor succeeded as a research biologist working at the Woods Hold Marine Biology Lab in Massachusetts from 1909 to 1930 while also heading the Zoology Dept. at Howard University as a faculty member. Learn about the hidden racism Dr. Just encountered as a black researcher whose work was many years before its time.

This is a Christmas season comedy based on Ebenezer Scrooge from the Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol.  The stage performance features Donald Sweeper acting the part of Scrooge as if he is speaking in the Gullah Language.

This is a 45-minute one-man show in which Donald Sweeper tells stories shared to him by his ancestors and the elderly people from the community in which he grew up. This performance also includes Gullah folklore and traditions, as well as rites of passages performed by many of the African American Churches from Reconstruction up to the early 1970s. Donald Sweeper will also translate Gullah to English for the audience. As a demonstration, he reads scriptures from the New Testament Gullah Bible.

Donald Sweeper brings to life professor Richard T. Greener, the first African American to graduate from Harvard University and the first African American faculty to teach at the University of South Carolina during Reconstruction from 1873-1877.  At the University of South Carolina, Greener reorganized and cataloged the library holdings which were in disarray after the Civil War.  In character as Richard Greener, Mr. Sweeper will dramatize the frustration and disappointment Greener experienced when Wade Hampton became governor and closed the university in 1877 to rid the school of blacks only to reopen in 1880 as an all-white institution.  Greener then became Dean of the Howard University Law School in the District of Columbia. The reenactment is 35 minutes in length, followed by a brief question and answer session from the audience.

Alice Taylor-Colbert

Dr. Alice Taylor-Colbert earned Masters’ and Ph.D. degrees in American Studies from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  She served 5 universities as an American history and public history professor and academic administrator. From 1988 to 2020, she served as an editorial board member of the Journal of Cherokee Studies. In 2004 she participated in a Fulbright-Hayes summer program in South Africa. Taylor-Colbert is a museum curator and archivist and former president of the Georgia Association of Historians.  She currently serves on the boards of the South Carolina Historical Association and the Georgia Trail of Tears Association. As an independent consultant, Taylor-Colbert works with South Carolina Humanities on Development and Strategic Initiatives.

 

An exploration of the lives of Cherokee women from the time before Europeans arrived in the Americas to the twenty-first century.  Using Cherokee myths, visual images, and artifacts crafted by the hands of Cherokee women, the speaker will weave a story of some of the most powerful women who have walked the earth.  Their bravery, tenacity, adaptability, and resilience will provide lessons for all of us in preserving both our heritage and our spirits.

As European colonists struggled to create a new nation in the late 1700s, Cherokee families dealt with intrusions into their territory, adaptation to new trade goods that changed their lifestyles, and shifting gender responsibilities and political power.  Then they faced having to leave their homes for western territory.  Cultural change can bring hardship and heartbreak, but Cherokees cross into the future with hope and persistence.

This entertaining presentation, based on the presenter’s research on Southern women, explores the 19th-century myth of “the Southern lady” and its predominance in popular culture then and now in contrast to the realistic qualities of diverse women of the South from the past into the present.  Audience participation is encouraged.

Susan Tekulve

Susan Tekulve is the author of In the Garden of Stone, winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Award and a 2013 SIBA “Okra Award.”   She’s also published three short story collections: Savage PilgrimsWash Day and My Mother’s War Stories.  Her stories and essays have appeared in Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, New Letters, Best New Writing 2007The Indiana ReviewDenver QuarterlyPuerto del Sol, Prairie SchoonerNorth Dakota QuarterlyConnecticut Review, Beloit Fiction JournalCrab Orchard Review, The Literary Review, WebdelsolBlack Warrior Review, and The Kansas City Star. Susan’s latest book, Second Shift: Essays, came out with Del Sol Press in 2018. She has been awarded a Sewannee Writers’ Conference Scholarship and a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Scholarship.  An Associate Professor of English at Converse College, she teaches in the BFA and MFA in Creative Writing Programs.

A recipient of Converse College’s Kathryn Amelia Brown Teaching Award, her teaching interests include creative writing: short fiction, novel writing, nonfiction, memoir writing, travel writing, and professional writing.  She also teaches World Literature, Short Fiction as Literature and Appalachian Literature.  She 
has taught creative writing study abroad courses in Italy.

In this workshop we will discuss ways that writers use natural landscapes to form characters, to create rhythm and structure, and to communicate themes in their writing. You don’t need to be an expert in the natural sciences to enjoy and benefit from this workshop.  We will practice writing exercises designed to help you hone your observations of nature as it relates to you and to help you to use the forces of nature as more than just a backdrop to your stories.

In her autobiographical essay, “A Sketch From the Past,” memoirist and fiction writer Virginia Woolf explains that narrative is encoded in objects, particularly every day objects and places from our childhood.  She maintains that these “moments” often go unrecognized, and that it is our job as writers to identify and consciously shape these experiences into stories.  This workshop is designed to teach fiction and nonfiction writers how to identify metaphors in seemingly ordinary childhood moments and places.  Additionally, it will help writers learn how to use these details to create strong, resonant narrations.

This class is divided between lecture/discussion and writing exercises, and it is designed to help writers shape family stories into fictional or nonfictional narratives.  We will discuss the best ways to identify “family legends” that make the richest material for written stories, novels, and essays.  By reading excerpts from the work of published authors, we’ll examine several research techniques—traditional and nontraditional– that these writers use to mine the material of their lives, or the lives of their family members, in their fiction and nonfiction.  We’ll also look at the different ways to shape family stories into engaging narratives. Finally, during the writing portion of this workshop, you will practice transforming a small fragment of a story from your family or town into an essay or short story.

In her autobiography, One Writer’s Beginnings,  Eudora Welty states,  “Writers and travelers are mesmerized alike by knowing of their destinations.”  She argues that like travelers, writers are preoccupied with discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer’s own life as well as in the lives of others.  Connections slowly emerge. “Like distant landmarks you are approaching, cause and effect begin to align themselves, draw closer together. “  Often these connections are made in retrospect, from a distance, after you have traveled to a new place and are able to look back from where you’ve come.  In this writing workshop, we will discuss the elements of narration shared by fiction writers, poets and travel writers—character development, setting, point of view and dialogue.  We will read classic and contemporary authors, discussing how those writers look back through a lens of distance and memory at places and people in order to create stories that make good narrative sense.   We will explore our own memories through writing exercises, generating real and imagined stories that are enhanced by the element of travel.

David Thompson

David Thompson, a South Carolina native, is a Professor of Music at Limestone University where he teaches private and group piano, music theory, and history and is a staff accompanist. In addition to being a Limestone graduate, he received his Master’s and Doctorate in Music from the University of South Carolina.  Thompson has performed as a soloist and accompanist in many different venues in the United States and in England, Germany, Korea, and Iceland, where he and his family lived while teaching music for several years.  He has also been involved with professional, amateur and college theatre companies and is very active as Musical Director for productions at Limestone.  His other interests include traveling and gardening. David lives in Gaffney in a restored 1903 Victorian home with his wife Sharon and is especially proud of his three granddaughters – Maci, Abigail, and Audrey. 

Along with songs and military band music published in the South during the Civil War, a considerable repertoire of solo keyboard music written by white, black, male, and female composers also exists.  This repertoire includes traditional dances such as the waltz, mazurka, schottische, and polka; marches, song arrangements, and descriptive fantasies.  This program brings this unknown repertoire to modern ears.  Throughout the program, excerpts from Confederate diaries, letters, and memoirs are read recounting the moving effect of keyboard music in the home as well as the overwhelming grief resulting from the destruction of these prized possessions during the war. (Piano needed for this program)

Nancy D. Tolson

Nancy D. Tolson is the assistant director of the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. She received a MA and PhD from the University of Iowa, researching the history and development of Black children’s literature and Black folklore. Tolson has been a Ford Fellow, NEH facilitator, Fulbright scholar/lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (Ghana), and an Illinois Humanities’ “Road Scholar”. She has been a storyteller for as long as she has been able to talk and is proudly a storyteller at the Augusta Baker’s Dozen Storytelling Festival (Columbia, SC) since 2015. She is a commissioner for the Columbia Museum of Art, as well as an active docent.

This program explores and celebrates the art of storytelling through the tales founded in the southern states of the U.S. with specific origins from South Carolina.

This presentation begins with late 19th century Negro children’s literature to the evolution of the present-day Black children’s literature and features a colorful Power Point.

In this program, Dr. Tolson discusses the diverse children’s literature that should be included in every library, classroom, and home. She explains the movement of diversity in the field of publishing children’s literature and the authors and illustrators that have made a powerful change.

Deno Trakas

Deno Trakas was the Laura and Winston Hoy Professor of English and Director of the Writing Center at Wofford College, but now he’s a happy retiree who spends his time writing, reading, playing tennis, walking his friendly Doberman, and trying to keep the deer from eating his flowers. He’s published two chapbooks of poems, a memoir entitled Because Memory Isn’t Eternal: A Story of Greeks in Upstate South Carolina, and the novel Messenger from Mystery. He’s currently revising a new novel, The Admiral of Smyrna. He’s won five S.C. Fiction Project Prizes for short stories and an individual artist grant in fiction from the S.C. Arts Commission. He’s also collaborating with a colleague who’s a photographer and art historian on a series of abstract photographs for which he writes haiku.

Novelist Sterling Watson calls my book “a taut page-turner about love and death on the dark side of international education” featuring a “forbidden affair of an American professor and his sultry Iranian student, the Hitchcockian suspense of men and women on the run for their lives in the world’s most dangerous places, and a cast of supporting players that throbs with life.” The novel is set in Columbia, SC, and Tehran, Iran, during the hostage crisis of 1979-1981, our country’s first confrontation with radical Islam; it opens a back door view of President Carter’s presidency, his handling of the hostage crisis, and the beginning of our forty-year conflict with the Islamic Republic of Iran. This presentation can be adapted to a workshop on historical fiction.

The writer Lisa Cron has said that stories are more important to human evolution than the opposable thumb–the thumb helps us to hang on; stories tell us what to hang on to. Deno Trakas will read selections from several compelling contemporary stories and discuss the essential element of conflict and its importance for readers and writers. This presentation can be adapted to a workshop on short fiction.

The key scenes in the novel that launched Hemingway’s career take place in Pamplona, Spain, which is world famous for the running of the bulls every morning of the week-long Fiesta of San Fermin. As a devoted fan who had taught The Sun Also Rises for twenty years, Deno Trakas went to Pamplona to run with the bulls, hang out in Hemingway’s favorite bar, enjoy the festival, study its cast of characters, and see for himself how Hemingway used that unique Spanish experience to create a scandalous tell-all novel that became an international bestseller and one of the great works of American literature.

Having studied at USC with Matthew Bruccoli, the preeminent F. Scott Fitzgerald scholar in the world, Deno Trakas began his teaching career by designing a course on Fitzgerald, which became the most popular class he taught at Wofford. He was ever amazed by how the novel resonated with young adults a hundred years after its publication. He will read selections from the book and discuss the many characteristics, from plot to character to metaphor, that make it a masterpiece.

Immigration has been a controversial topic for many years, some would say forever, here and abroad. Having studied the Greek immigrants in his own family for his memoir, Because Memory Isn’t Eternal, and having talked to readers about their families, Deno Trakas will share his fascination with and understanding of the triumphs and travails of immigration and lead a civil discussion of the topic.

Gail Wagner

Gail Wagner is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina and a respected paleoethnobotanist (one of the few in the Southeast). Her fields of study are the prehistoric archaeology of eastern North America and ethnobotany (the study of the interrelationships between plants and peoples). She is a veteran of archaeological projects in the Southwest, Israel, India, and South Carolina and has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Washington University.

Why do South Carolinians grow vegetables, and how does their ethnic background affect what they grow? You might be surprised to learn about the intangible benefits as voiced by local gardeners and to learn why some plants have special meaning.

Wait a minute – don’t we all know what is a vegetable? Or do we? Discover what we’ve learned from over 600 interviews. Do we agree on a definition of vegetable, and do we agree on which foods are vegetables? The answers will surprise you.

What is a chiefdom, the type of society encountered by de Soto when he visited South Carolina in 1540? Find out what recent digs have revealed about the late prehistoric Indians who lived in central South Carolina, in the vicinity of Camden.

What happens to people’s diets when two worlds collide? Find out how life changed for the Indians in South Carolina following European exploration and settlement 1520-1730. Why were some crops adopted, and how did the encounter change the Europeans?

This slide show focuses on the uses of plants by Indians for food, drink, medicine, fiber, smoking, construction, and even poison and is based on both archaeological evidence and historic accounts. The show can also be combined with a 1-2 hour outside walk and talk to examine local plants, or we can do a walk only, even in the city, with no slide show.

You might be surprised to learn that corn, beans, and squash were not always important and that eastern North American Indians once depended on the now-extinct crops of marshelder, goosefoot, and maygrass. Learn about Indian gardens through time, find out how plants were domesticated, and discover the role of women in the domestication process.

What are the implications of Videophilia and Nature Deficit Disorder for the future of our world? Studies of children and South Carolina college students reveal the relationships between knowing nature, knowing the names of plants, human health, and conservation of biodiversity.

Melissa Walker

Melissa Walker, Emerita George Dean Johnson, Jr. Professor of History at Converse College is an award-winning teacher and scholar. The author or editor of nine books on Southern and women’s history, in 2007, she was named the South Carolina Professor of the Year, by the Carnegie Foundation for Teaching and CASE. Her book “Southern Farmers and Their Stories” was awarded a prestigious Outstanding Academic Title Award from Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries for its overall excellence in scholarship and its value to undergraduate students. Her first book, All We Knew Was to Farm: Rural Women in the Upcountry South, 1919-1941, received the Southern Association for Women Historians’ Willie Lee Rose Prize for the best book in Southern history. Walker speaks to audiences of all ages about a wide variety of history topics.

What do a small-town doctor’s wife, a Connecticut-born governor’s wife, an upper-class but down on her luck Charleston stenographer, and the first woman licensed to sell real estate in South Carolina have in common? They fought tirelessly to gain women’s right to vote in the Palmetto State. As we approach the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, learn more about the South Carolina women who led that struggle.

The American Revolution in the South is the South’s forgotten war, and it was a true civil war. Much of the fighting in the South took place in the southern backcountry, that frontier area 50-200 miles from the coast, and most of the fighters were ordinary backcountry settlers–some of them Loyalists and some of them Patriots. Learn more about America’s first civil war as it was fought in the Carolina backcountry.

In October 1780, backcountry men from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia marched over the mountains to confront British commander Patrick Ferguson who had threatened to lay waste to their homes “with fire and sword.” British General Henry Clinton would call the remarkable Patriot victory at Kings Mountain the “first link of a chain” of disasters that led to the British defeat in the American Revolution.

Donald West

Donald West is an instructor in the Department of History, Humanities, and Languages at Trident Technical College. He teaches both sequences of the U.S. History and African American History courses. He also teaches a survey history course on Africa. He is a travel enthusiast and has visited numerous historical places in Africa including landmarks connected to the African slave trade. West is also an active member of several professional organizations in history and museums.

**Donald West requests an additional honorarium or travel reimbursement to the $250 contributed by SC Humanities.**

Between 750-1890, Africans were forcefully removed from the continent to places throughout the Islamic world and the Americas. Donald West addresses this historical period with the support of a PowerPoint presentation.

What role did black people play in the quest for liberty? This presentation and PowerPoints of period artwork, illustrations, and historical documentation addressing the little-known, yet significant impact African Americans made in US history during the period of 1763-1783.

Woodson promoted black history and culture through his scholarship and the professional organization he help to start, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History. Donald West’s presentation tells this story.

What role did black people play in preserving the Union and ending slavery? With (or without) a period uniform, including a Springfield rifle, Donald West will present a brief history of African Americans and the Civil War which includes data, facts, figures, and key people (men and women).

This presentation addresses many of the unknown facts about African survivals in American culture.

Madam C.J. Walker was a businesswoman and activist in the age of Booker T. Washington. This is my story of a self-made millionaire and her impact on black life and culture.

This presentation addresses the need and efforts to preserve historical records, photos, and documents on the black experience. Also, included are the practice of proper storage and care of these archival materials.

The social, economic, and political landscape of this country were forever changed by the Civil Rights movement. The men we have come to know and appreciated were not alone; women played a big part in this great change. In review of recent events, this historical presentation revisits the significant role Ella Baker and other women had in fostering the leadership of thousands during the critical period of the Civil Rights movement. 

Kasie Whitener

Award-winning GenX fiction writer Dr. Kasie Whitener hosts a Columbia-based radio show called “Write On SC,” and a weekly Twitter chat called #wschat. Her debut novel, After December, was a finalist for the National Indie Excellence Awards in 2020 and her second novel Before Pittsburgh, won Honorable Mention the 2021 New York Book Festival. Dr. Whitener is the current President of South Carolina Writers Association and won the 2021 Governor’s Award for Fresh Voices in the Humanities. She has delivered workshops for the South Carolina Writers Association, Pat Conroy Literary Center, Winter Wheat Festival, Fairfax County Public Library, and the South Carolina Book Festival.

More than just knowing you could have said it better, reading like a writer means understanding what the writer meant to do in a given passage. There are specific choices writers make in character, scene, and plot. This workshop is for avid readers who want to adopt a fresh approach, book club members looking for activities they can do, and ambitious readers wanting to take a new journey with the books they choose. I will provide methods for analysis, exercises for group participation, and reading challenges and lists to mix up your annual selection.

Do I need a literary agent? Should I self-publish? How much do I need to know about marketing? Publishing now resembles a matrix of independent, hybrid, and traditional paths complicated by full-service, partial-service, and no-service options. This workshop is for aspiring authors wondering what options are available to get their work in front of readers. From the most hands-off, full-service, career-making path to the DIY bootstrap model, this interactive inquiry answers all your author FAQs.

This storytelling workshop presents the vocabulary for writers crafting short stories and novels. Who is the story about? What do they want? In exploration of genre expectations, seven basic plots, and the expected paths characters will follow, this workshop helps novice (and experience) writers name the structural elements of stories. The scaffolding of craft is thoroughly unpacked with definition, examples, how-to instructions, and writing exercises.

Learning to re-vise or “see again” is the most important skill in creative writing. This workshop addresses the challenges of revision from the shortest flash fiction to a complete novel. This session provides basic principles of revision and practical tools for approaching the work. Attendees will learn how to evaluate their pacing, language, and characters scene by scene.

John Williams

Dr. John R. Williams is a retired Professor of English Literature from Spartanburg with a Ph.D in Folklore from Indiana University. He served two years in Tehran, Iran with the United States Army as part of a military advisory group to the Shah. While there, he learned to speak fluent Farsi, served as a translator for a General, and traveled widely in Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. He also directed the Appalachian Oral History Project in Eastern Kentucky.   He is a major contributor to Folklore studies including Our Appalachia: An Oral History and Usable Pasts: Traditions and Group Expressions in North America. He also holds an M.A. in Literature from the University of Kentucky and a B.A. from Centre College.

{Any of the following presentations can be tailored to meet the needs of your organization.}

An entertaining storyteller, Dr. Williams portrays the characters from folk tales collected from Appalachian migrants in Cincinnati, Ohio. He highlights the migrants’ deep-seated sense of place as he recreates characters in Appalachian dialect. Especially moving is his version of Cinderella as a poor girl living up a hollar in the Kentucky mountains whose painted fingernails are her glass slipper. He weaves tales of real life moonshiners venting the smoke out the chimney of a tenement house, saloon keepers robbed so many times they put up a sign for the robbers to take what they want, and farmers whose dogs became notorious snake killers. Similar to the stories of mill workers in South Carolina, these tales reflect the problems created by cultural conflict in Appalachian Kentucky and Cincinnati.

The Folklore and oral traditions from the mill villages are rapidly changing as the they go the way of the coal camps in the mountains. Storytelling itself, the connective tissue of the community, has been drastically affected by this change. Dr. Williams has collected stories from mill workers in the Upstate, and he weaves a tapestry of yarns from colorful raconteurs such as Powerhouse Hawkins, a once infamous Spartanburg baseball pitcher. With the aid of Powerhouse, Dr. Williams recreates the larger than life mill baseball league and peoples it with great ball players of the past like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Dizzy Dean. In addition, he recreates life in the villages through children’s games and nursury rhymes along with foodways and workers’ tales. Dr. Williams highlights his own oral history collection with an archeological study of Sampson Mill Village in Greenville County, SC which uncovered unique family artifacts when they excavated this mill village. By recreating actual families from a mill village through their stories, Dr. Williams brings the village to life once more. The audience is encouraged to participate in this animated presentation.

The South has a rich tradition of folk literature that draws upon oral tradition and colorful language for its substance. Legends, folk history, songs, foodways, customs, and unique dialects permeate the ghost stories of South Carolina and other Southern states. Dr. Williams draws upon the numerous collections of ghost stories and scary tales to create an evening of haunted enjoyment for young and old. Not just a Halloween event, this presentation promises to inform and delight and maybe evoke a few screams from all participants. Beginning with brief spellbinding recitations from Coleridge and Poe, Dr. Williams discusses the cathartic power of fear and horror in the human experience. Citing the night riders of southern history as examples of “real ghosts,” Dr. Williams discusses the use of fear as a psychological tool to control an ethnic minority group. All the usual “haints” are here too. Dr. Williams summons up all the ghosts that appear along the Atlantic seacoast from Georgia to the Carolinas beginning with the uncanny spectral ships that were often seen in Charleston Harbor. You are bound to hear the voice of a ghost from your neighborhood, so be prepared to jump out of your skin!

This presentation focuses on the differences between the beliefs and customs of Shiite Moslems in Iran and those of their neighbors, the Sunnis in Iraq. Focusing on the theoretical underpinnings of these two extreme branches of Islam, Dr. Williams discusses the historical changes which gave rise to ISIS in the light of the historical role of the Caliphate in the Middle East. Dr. Williams spent two years in Iran studying the language and customs of this 2500-year-old nation, and his Ph.D studies include Middle Eastern Folklore. He describes in detail some ancient Shiite traditions, such as their most famous holy day, Ashura, when mourners beat and cut themselves as part of a procession reenacting the death of Husein, a Shiite martyr.   Understanding the roots of this and other bleak customs together with the Zoroastrian new year celebration in which young men leap over fires to celebrate Spring helps us appreciate the differences between Western Christian customs and Muslim Middle Eastern ones. The discussion concludes with an overview of various terrorist groups and their allegiances.

This presentation focuses on Oral History and its value to a community. Dr. Williams will share stories from two projects which he directed: the Appalachian Oral History Project and the Great Smoky Mountains Project. In the late 1970s Dr. Williams was one of the campus directors for an oral history project which covered four states in Appalachia. Funded by a grant from Rockefeller, Ford, NEH and other agencies, the AOHP was responsible for collecting thousands of interviews with mountain people. As a result, the book Our Appalachia: An Oral History was published. The Smoky Mountain Project took place in 1983 when Dr. Williams was part of a team in Tennessee who were hired by the state to collect Folklore traditions. Dr. Williams and others set up recorders and copy stands in Sevierville and invited family members who had been displaced from the Park to return with their stories and photographs.   In this technical presentation Dr. Williams will discuss the theory and techniques behind designing a similar project in your own community using modern technology. A major focus is grant – writing and other forms of fundraising. Participants will be asked to share their personal stories and to suggest ideas for oral history projects in their neighborhoods.

In 1983, while working as a scholar-in-residence for the Tennessee Committee for the Humanities, Dr. Williams had the opportunity to travel around the mountains with Richard Chase, the famous Jack Tale collector. During that time, he discussed Chase’s dialect renditions of the Jack Tales along with a number of  old English fairy tales which Chase discovered in the mountains.  The clever Jack of these tales always outwits his stronger adversaries from Bears and Bulls to Robbers and Giants. Familiar to all ages is the tale of “Jack and the Bean Stalk,” but told in mountain dialect it becomes funnier than ever. Also, “Jack and the Robbers,” a rendition of “The Bremmen Town Musicians,” keeps the audience howling, especially when the robbers mistake all the animal sounds for human ones. Dr. Williams also taught English in Appalachian Kentucky in the 1970’s where he studied Appalachian speech.  He combines the stories Chase collected with his appreciation of mountain dialect to present Jack Tales in a highly entertaining fashion. He also adds a degree of scholarship to this presentation as a trained academic folklorist.