From Juke Joints to Jacobin Literature: The Vernaculars of Arkansas and the Making of Southern Fiction



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Florence Dore, singer-songwriter and professor of English at the University of North Carolina.

What do Arkansas singers Levon Helm and Lucinda Williams have to do with Southern fiction or Shakespeare? What conduits between the juke joints that house Sonny Boy Williamson and Lead Belly and the hallowed halls of the University of Arkansas can we trace? Finally, how does vernacular music or rock and roll relate to what we consider Southern fiction today?

Join Florence Dore at the David and Barbara Pryor Center for Arkansas Oral and Visual History at 6 p.m. on Monday, September 19 to find answers to these questions in a discussion that is part lecture, part reading, and part song.

Dore is a singer-songwriter as well as an academic whose published work spans blues, rock, race in popular music, and other topics. She is the author of Romance Sounds: Southern Fiction in the Age of Rock and Roll (Columbia University Press 2018) and the editor of The Ink in the Grooves: Conversations on Literature and Rock n Roll (Cornell University Press), out October 15.

As an English professor at the University of North Carolina, she teaches in the creative writing and literature programs. She has been a fellow at New York University, the National Humanities Center, and the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC. A member of the steering committee of Post45, a collective of scholars working on American literature and culture since 1945, Dore was also founding co-editor of the Post45 book series at Stanford University Press. During the pandemic, she created and acted as co-executive producer for Cover Charges: North Carolina musicians hide to benefit Cat’s Cradle, a benefit compilation disc that reached No. 1 on the Billboard compilation charts. She has hosted two public lectures on rock and literature, in 2017 at the National Humanities Center with Carolina Performing Arts and at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

She serves on the advisory board of the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies at the Bob Dylan Archives at the University of Tulsa. His second album, Highways and Rockets (Propeller Sound Recordings) – which was just released in June 2022 – was produced by Don Dixon and Mitch Easter and features legendary band members dB’s, Son Volt and Steve Earle. She currently runs on both Highways and Rockets and Ink in the grooves as part of his traveling humanities program called “Ink in the Grooves Live”.

Dore will be joined by guitarist Mark Spencer of Americana founding band Son Volt.

This event, organized by the Pryor Center and sponsored by the U of A Humanities Center, African and African American Studies Program, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies and Department of English, is free and open to the public.

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