Category Archives: People

Kentucky Live! presents J.D. Wilkes, artist, musician and author of “The Vine That Ate the South”

J.D. Wilkes is a native of Paducah, Kentucky. In the introduction to his first book Barn Dances & Jamborees Across Kentucky published in 2013 he writes: “as a professional harmonica player and singer in a hillbilly music group, I’ve played my share of festivals and nightclubs since the age of sixteen. You name it, I’ve played it. From a boot scoot to a prison, a barbecue joint to a Masonic lodge. From fish fries to “pig-picks, juke joints to paddle-wheelers. Pool halls, mini-malls, parades, pubs, clubs, churches, casinos, coffee shops and drag strips.”

He’s the founder of the Legendary Shack Shakers, a Southern Gothic rock and blues band formed in the mid-1990s which toured widely with the likes of Robert Plant, The Black Keys and Hank Williams III among others.  His discography includes 17 albums.  He’s been nominated for a Grammy and his music has been featured on HBO’s True Blood series and a in a long-running Geico commercial. In 2015 he was featured on the BBC original series Songs of the South, in an episode focusing on the musical history of Tennessee and Kentucky.  He’s directed a film and is an accomplished visual artist who makes wonderful drawings and banners.

In his first solo album Fire Dream released in February, 2018 by Fat Legal Mess/Fat Possum Records and recorded at Delta-Sonic Sound in Memphis, he creates a complex tapestry of styles and sounds playing banjo, harmonica, and piano.

His debut novel, The Vine That Ate the South, published in 2017 by Two Dollar Radio Press, to quote the publisher “is a mesmerizing fantasia that incorporates vampire cults, exorcisms, and the Bell Witch of Tennessee, as two friends embark on a surreal, Homeric voyage that strikes at the very heart of American mythology.”

The story follows the journey of two young men through a haunted forest in a forgotten corner of western Kentucky.  Responding to a question on regional cultures in a recent interview Wilkes comments that “regionalism is important because it gives us all our own sense of place, community, and identity.”  As to the relationship between song writing and the creation of this novel Wilkes added “my songs have always been more short stories anyway, so I’ve had years of practice in a way.”

Wilkes will be reading from and discussing his novel on Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Booksellers as part of WKU Libraries’ Kentucky Live! Southern Culture at Its Best series.

Copies of his books and music will be available for sale. Wilkes will also sign books and participate in a panel discussion (11:00 a.m.) at the Knicely Conference Center (654 Campbell Lane) as part of  SOKY Bookfest on Saturday, April 21.  For more information call 270-745-6121

 

Comments Off on Kentucky Live! presents J.D. Wilkes, artist, musician and author of “The Vine That Ate the South”

Filed under General, Kentucky Live, People, Podcasts

Far Away Places presents Soleiman Kiasatpour on “Morocco At the Crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East”

Soleiman Kiasatpour is an Associate Professor of International & Comparative Politics in the Department of Political Science at Western Kentucky University.  He received his PhD from the University of California, Riverside in 1998 for a dissertation on “Regime Transition in Post-Soviet Central Asia: The Cases of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan” which involved extensive field work in Central Asia in 1994 and 1996.

Born in the U.S. to Iranian parents he moved to Iran when he was 10 and lived there until his 20s.  He experienced a revolution, interstate war and being a “foreign” student upon returning to the United States as an undergraduate in Texas.

He’s taught at the University of California, Riverside, California State University, Dominguez Hills and South Texas College where he met his wife who taught French. He joined the faculty at WKU in 2002 and currently teaches classes on Middle East politics, international relations, comparative politics and political terrorism.

His research focuses on regime transitions, Middle East politics and public diplomacy and he’s frequently asked to comment about Middle Eastern affairs for various media. He’s lead Study Abroad Programs to Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands where he taught courses on Islam and citizenship in Europe, Middle East politics and Islam and politics.

His interest in Morocco began in Brussels, Belgium where over a quarter of the population are from Turkey and Morocco.  He taught a course there on identity politics of old and new immigrants. In the spring of 2013 a Moroccan Fulbright professor teaching Arabic at WKU enrolled in his U.S. foreign policy class.  With his help, he took his first group of student to Morocco in 2015

Last summer he lead his third study abroad program to Morocco where WKU students interacted with local public officials and upon return wrote about their experience in an article entitled, “Local Governance in Morocco During Political Instability” with a focus on Tetouan, a city of some 400,000 people near Tangier on the Mediterranean Coast. He’ll be making a return trip to Morocco this June and July.

We hope you’ll join us on Thursday, April 12 at 7:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble Bookstore when Sol will be talking about “Morocco At the Crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East” in our Far Away Places series sponsored by the Friends of WKU Libraries.

Comments Off on Far Away Places presents Soleiman Kiasatpour on “Morocco At the Crossroads of Europe, Africa and the Middle East”

Filed under Events, Far Away Places, Flickr Photos, General, Latest News, People, Podcasts, Uncategorized

“An’ it harm none, do what ye will”

"The cards are only suggestions, but if I see something that has a lot to say in it, then I can transcribe it," says Turner.

“The cards are only suggestions, but if I see something that has a lot to say in it, then I can transcribe it,” says Turner.

In his 1929 publication titled Witchcraft in Old and New England, famed literary studies folklorist George Lyman Kittredge paints witches—specifically, women—as harbingers of maleficium when he writes,

…she is hunted down like a wolf because she is an enemy to mankind. Her heart is full of malignity. And her revenge is out of all proportion to the affront, for she is in league with spirits of evil who are almost infinite in strength. The witch is a murderer, or may become a murderer on the slightest provocation. She cannot be spared, for there is no safety for life, body, or estate until she is sent out of the world.

While Kittredge was commenting on prevailing attitudes towards witches in 16th and 17th century England, his descriptions still ring true within a modern framework. It comes as no surprise, then, that those who embraced Neopaganism, Wicca, or witchcraft in the 20th century continued to battle deeply-rooted stereotypes. The conjured image of a gnarled hag whispering incantations over a bubbling cauldron may never disappear entirely, but there are those within the alternative healing community who actively seek to dismantle such outdated models of understanding and reorient public perceptions of healers and psychic practitioners.

In October 1980, folk studies graduate student Jan Laude was introduced to Peggy Sue Turner, a contemporary psychic living in Bowling Green. Over the next 20 months, Laude worked closely with Turner as she made the attempt to understand the “connection between a woman’s  life history and her supernatural experiences.” Laude’s findings were published as her 1982 Master’s thesis titled “A Contemporary Female Psychic: A Folkloristic Study of a Traditional Occupation” and highlight the intersection between narrative and folk belief. Turner’s experiences with “palmistry, the tarot, automatic writing, faith healing, witchcraft, and herbs” are placed within an occupational context, and Laude is intentional in looking at how successful alternative healers “must, to be successful, balance tradition with adaptive mechanisms to accommodate contemporary cultural and social needs.”

Turner, who was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1932, had her first visionary incident at a young age. She shares with Laude,

…I was roller skating one day. And I had fallen as usual, you know, with the sidewalk burns that you get…And I happened to look up at the sky. It had a cloud formation, or something. I don’t know, it was a vision or what, but it was a huge throne and it was brilliantly outline in the brightest light. I mean, it wasn’t white light. It was bright. That’s all.

Throughout her early twenties and into her forties, Turner practiced her psychic work informally, often dressing up as a stereotypical fortune teller and providing her friends with herbal remedies. In the mid-1970s Turner attended a meeting of the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship, a “non-profit group for individuals interested in psychic phenomena,” for the first time. This network of believers was instrumental in allowing Turner to feel more comfortable with her supernatural inclinations. Over the next several years, Turner continued to her hone her psychic abilities, which she described as “God-given,” while supporting her children as a single mother. She details her emergence from the “long period of psychic isolation” to become a woman confident with her innate capability to from strong, meaningful connections with clients, address and ameliorate emotional and physical maladies, and carry on traditionally-based beliefs surrounding health and the supernatural.

Laude weaves together a masterful narrative that details the complex relationship between womanhood, religion, medicine, and community. Without sensationalizing Turner’s psychic skills, and by offering an intimate glimpse into how healers play a role within their communities, Laude helps to give a strong, clear voice to those who are so often misunderstood.

For information on additional psychics, witches, faith healers, and other practitioners of alternative and supernatural modalities, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database featuring manuscripts, photographs and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

Comments Off on “An’ it harm none, do what ye will”

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, People

Far Away Places presents Theresa Rajack-Talley, author of “Poverty is a Person”

Poverty-Is-a-Person (8)
Theresa Rajack-Talley, Associate Dean for International Diversity and Community Engagement Programs in the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of Louisville, was featured in our WKU Libraries’ Far Away Places speaker series on Thursday, March 22, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, KY. The focus of her talk was also the title of her book Poverty is a Person: Human Agency, Women, and Caribbean Households. A book signing ensued in conclusion of her talk.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS

Continue reading

Comments Off on Far Away Places presents Theresa Rajack-Talley, author of “Poverty is a Person”

Filed under Events, Far Away Places, Latest News, People, Podcasts

Kentucky Live! presents Timothy B. Smith, “Altogether Fitting and Proper: Civil War Battlefield Preservation in History, Memory, and Policy”

Civil War-Battlefield-Preservation (11)

Timothy Smith from the University of Tennessee at Martin was the featured speaker in WKU Libraries’ “Kentucky Live series” on Thursday, March 8, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green. His topic was “Civil War Battlefield Preservation in History, Memory, and Policy.” The talk concluded with book signing.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS

Continue reading

Comments Off on Kentucky Live! presents Timothy B. Smith, “Altogether Fitting and Proper: Civil War Battlefield Preservation in History, Memory, and Policy”

Filed under Events, General, Kentucky Live, Latest News, People

Within the All of It: Trigg County African-American Oral History Project

“What I told you is what your grandparents tried to tell me: that this is your country, that this is your world, that this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me

In the fall of 1995, four folk studies students from the Cultural Conservation class at WKU conducted an oral history project to document African American heritage in Caldwell, Christian, Todd, and Trigg counties. With grant-based funding from the Pennyrile Area Development District (PADD), local committees were established in each county, allowing interviewers to become better acquainted with long-time residents and their personal narratives, which focused on their experiences of living in Trigg County.

The student group recorded a total of 18 interviews with 15 participants, most of whom have longstanding familial ties to the region. The interviews, which often take the format of a “life history,” cover a broad range of topics from American Bandstand, sorority life, courtship customs, and bootlegging, to tobacco harvesting, family reunions, quilting bees, and church services. The scope of the project, spanning nearly five decades from the early 1900s to the late 1950s, marks an era of both agricultural and industrial growth, political uncertainty, and technological advancement—all nipping at the heels of the stirring civil rights movement.

Serving as the first oral history project of its kind in Trigg County, the lives of its participants are played out on tape in ways that reveal what it meant to be black in the Jim Crow South, how physical landscapes shape cultural traditions, and how a strong sense of identity was—and remains—crucial in developing supportive, lasting communities.

Onie Bakerat her home in Cadiz, Kentucky (October 1995)

Onie Baker at her home in Cadiz, Kentucky (October 1995)

 

The collection itself (FA 196), located within WKU’s Manuscripts and Folklife Archives, contains photographs of participants, brief biographical sketches, original interview cassette tapes, and detailed indexes of every recorded interview.

For information on African American experiences in Kentucky, Trigg County, and additional oral history projects, visit TopSCHOLAR or browse through KenCat, a searchable database featuring manuscripts, photographs and other non-book objects housed in the Department of Library Special Collections!

Post written by WKU Folk Studies graduate student Delainey Bowers

Comments Off on Within the All of It: Trigg County African-American Oral History Project

Filed under Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, People

Kentucky Live! presents Mary Ellen Pethel, “College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville”

_IMG_8997

Kentucky Live! Presented Mary Ellen Pethel on College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville  on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at Barnes & Noble Bookstore (1680 Campbell Lane).

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS

Continue reading

Comments Off on Kentucky Live! presents Mary Ellen Pethel, “College Life and the Making of Modern Nashville”

Filed under Events, Kentucky Live, Latest News, People

Kentucky Live! presents Ann DAngelo, author of ‘Dark Highway: Love, Murder, and Revenge in 1930s Kentucky’

Dark-Highway-Love-Murder-Revenge-Kentucky (10)

WKU Libraries’ last of this semester’s “Kentucky Live!” speaker series featured Ann DAngelo, an attorney for the Kentucky Department of Transportation Cabinet on the evening of November 16, 2017, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Bowling Green, KY. She talked about and signed her new book Dark Highway about the case of Verna Garr Taylor’s death on the night of November 6, 1936.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS
Continue reading

Comments Off on Kentucky Live! presents Ann DAngelo, author of ‘Dark Highway: Love, Murder, and Revenge in 1930s Kentucky’

Filed under General, Kentucky Live, Latest News, People, Podcasts

Far Away Places presents Holly Tucker, author of ‘City of Light, City of Poison’

Holly Tucker speaking at Barnes & Noble

Holly Tucker, a professor at Vanderbilt University, was the featured speaker at the WKU Libraries’ “Far Away Places” speaker series on the evening of Thursday, November 9, 2017, at Barnes & Noble Bookstore. She talked about and signed at the end of the talk her book City of Light, City of Poison–Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS
Continue reading

Comments Off on Far Away Places presents Holly Tucker, author of ‘City of Light, City of Poison’

Filed under Far Away Places, New Stuff, People, Stuff

Far Away Places presents Fedja Buric, “Bosnia: More Than Twenty Years Since Dayton”

Bosnia More Than Twenty Years Since Dayton (15)

With support from an IYO grant, WKU Libraries invited Bellarmine Historian Fedja Buric to be our guest speaker at Barnes & Noble Bookstore on the evening of Thursday, October 26, 2017, to talk about the history and the current situation in Bosnia.

Photo Album | Sound File | Podcast RSS

Continue reading

Comments Off on Far Away Places presents Fedja Buric, “Bosnia: More Than Twenty Years Since Dayton”

Filed under Events, Far Away Places, General, Latest News, People