Border States Home Page

October 1999


President: Harold Tallant, Department of History, Georgetown College, Georgetown KY 40324 (

Vice-President and 2000 Program Chair: Allison Ensor, Department of English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville 37996 (

Secretary-Treasurer: Thomas Blues, 1451 N Forbes Road, Lexington KY 40511 (


45th Annual Meeting

April 7-8, 2000

Fall Creek Falls State Park

Pikeville, Tennessee

We welcome proposals for papers or media presentations in any field of American Studies and related disciplines. Proposals on the history, literature, and culture of the Upper South are especially encouraged. Those interested in participating may submit a one-page proposal or abstract and a brief vita to:

Professor Allison Ensor
Department of English
University of Tennessee
Knoxville TN 37996

Proposal Deadline: January 10, 2000

Fall Creek Falls State Park, featuring the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, is located in a spectacular natural setting approximately 85 miles southeast of Knoxville, midway between Chattanooga and Cookeville. Check the web site at for further information on the park.


Please send news of personal/professional doings, upcoming events of interest to KTASA members, projects, conferences and calls for papers and other information to Thomas Blues, 1451 North Forbes Road, Lexington KY 40511 (

The 1999 Meeting

Approximately sixty members attended the April 16-17 meeting at Shaker Village, Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

Session I: Outsiders and the South

Martha Billips Turner (Transylvania University), "Appalachian Otherness: Lee Smith's Oral History." Smith's novel reveals her deep understanding of the stereotypes of Appalachian otherness and exposes their limitations, whether manifested in romantic or derogatory characterizations of the region's inhabitants.

Betsy Brinson (Kentucky Oral History Commission), "Heralds of Freedom: Kentucky Women in the Civil Rights Struggle, 1930-1970." Interviews with 25 women-leaders in organizations like CORE, NAACP, and the Kentucky Commission on Human Rights-generated the following profile: single and/or recently married college educated women who risked and endured arrest, job loss, FBI surveillance, harassment and intimidation to advance the civil rights cause.

Vivian G. Fryd (Vanderbilt University), "Nashville Battle Monument: Symbol of National Reconciliation and Peace." Constructed in 1927 to memorialize three wars, the monument became a vehicle for Southern conservatives-male and female-to oppose the growing status of the New Woman and to glorify instead the old-fashioned Cult of True Womanhood that promoted piety, duty to family and nation, and education.

Session II: Understanding the Wilderness

Carole S. Bucy (Volunteer State Community College), "Sources of Kentucky and Tennessee History: The Draper Papers." Documents collected over a 50-year period by Lyman Copeland Draper between 1835 and 1891 constitute the first great manuscript collection of the early westward movement, covering the settlement of the West between 1740 and 1830. The papers are a rich source for scholarship on early Kentucky and Tennessee history as well as a major source for much of the recent scholarship on American Indians. Their location in the state of Wisconsin is a continuing source of controversy.

James E. Block (DePaul University), "Panic in the Republican Wilderness: Robert M. Bird, Early National Literature and the Crisis of Liberation." The crisis provoked by the terrifying journey into the boundless wilderness of the new republic is represented in much early American literature by a pattern of release, panic, and return, as exemplified in Bird's Nick of the Woods.

Session III: Driving Toward a New South

John Butler (Austin Peay State University), "Marketing the Merry Oldsmobile in the MidSouth." The Olds Motor Works jumped ahead of its competitors in the early years of the 20th century by establishing a dealer organization, favorably comparing the moderately priced Oldsmobile to its nearest competitor (the horse and buggy), and providing proof of performance (in 1903 the Knoxville dealer drove an Olds from Knoxville to Chattanooga in under ten hours).

After Dinner Program

Steven Weisenburger (University of Kentucky), "Margaret Garner, Beloved, and Legend-Making." The true story of Margaret Garner, the northern Kentucky slave who escaped, was recaptured, and attempted to kill her children rather than see them returned to slavery.

Session IV: Saturday Morning Cartoons

David E. Magill (University of Kentucky), "The Pleasure(s) and Power(s) of Television: Or, Can Cartoons Change the World?" In The Simpsons the satiric message is often undercut by audiences focused on the pleasure of commodification or identification. The contradictory desires of producers and audiences lead to a diffusion of the show's satire as the viewers create their own spaces of resistance within and against the show's discourse.

Session V: Life and Culture in the Antebellum Border States

Arthur Wrobel (University of Kentucky), "The White, Black, Town, and Country Families in Antebellum Kentucky." Robert Wickliffe was perhaps Kentucky's largest slaveholder. The Wickliffe-Preston Papers, housed in the UK Rare Book Room, provide a melancholy record of the lives of slaveholders and slaves: day-to-day treatment and medical care dictated by concern for a valuable commodity; the ineffectual resistance of slaves to their condition; white concerns about escapes, fears of black uprisings, and soul-searching over the morality of the institution.

Michael T. Gavin (The Farm Building Company), "German American Log Houses of Lawrence County, Tennessee." Vernacular buildings occur across the length and breadth of Tennessee. Whether of log, frame, brick, or stone, many of them share some of the same features, and even to the trained eye sometimes look very much alike. Although the German American log house appears to be similar to many of its neighbors, its unique characteristics (notably the use of cantilevered logs to support the front porch and rear shed) warrant its establishment as a separate type.

Carol Crowe Carraco (Western Kentucky University), "Life and Culture in Antebellum Southcentral Kentucky as Seen in the Reflections of Silverware." Although the Bluegrass region had more silversmiths, the state's southcentral area's artisans enjoyed enviable reputations before the Civil War. Artifacts, letters, diaries, advertisements, inventories, wills, deeds, court cases and other records enable a look at life in antebellum southcentral Kentucky as reflected by the work of almost two dozen silversmiths.

Session VI: Reactions to the Agrarian School

Tycho de Boer (Vanderbilt University), "The Big Ballad Jamboree: Donald Davidson and the Southern Folk." Drawing from both history and folklore, especially folk music, Davidson created for himself and other embattled traditionalists a myth of Southern history and culture as the last stronghold of an organic, communal, agrarian way of life that faced annihilation by the onslaught of modernity. Although Davidson is viewed by historians as the least relevant of the Agrarians, his vision of the South as a distinct, traditional culture seems to have survived the passage of time, particularly among defenders of a unique Southern identity.

Judith Hatchett (Midway College), "All the King's Men Today." Its penetrating analysis of the balancing act between the idealism and corruption of political life that continues to attract and repel Americans is the key to the enduring fascination of Warren's novel. In addition, All the King's Men hauntingly depicts an earlier South, before air conditioning, instant communi-cation, and televised news reports.


Border States editors Ellen Donovan and Mary Hoffschwelle are soliciting manuscripts for the first issue of the new millenium (vol. 13, publication date 2001). If you have recently delivered a paper at a KTASA meeting, or if you are working on a project that focuses on the mid-South region, please consider submitting it for publication to either editor:

Professor Ellen Donovan
Box 70
Department of English
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro TN 37132
(615) 898-2653

Professor Mary Hoffschwelle
Box 23
Department of History
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro TN 37132
(615) 898-5806

Border States Vol. 12 was distributed at the 1999 meeting. Copies are available from the editors. The complete text of volumes 10-12 and parts of volumes 8-9 are on the Web at

along with previous editions of the newsletter, annual meeting programs, KTASA membership information, and links to the national ASA.


A Message from David Magill

(Note: In accordance with an ASA Regional Chapters Committee resolution, KTASA members in 1998 authorized the addition of a graduate student representative to the board of officers and elected David Magill, a PhD candidate at the University of Kentucky, to the office at the 1999 meeting.)

As KTASA Graduate Student Representative, I want to increase graduate student awareness of and involvement in our chapter. I would particularly like to see a larger graduate student contingent at next year's meeting, thus am in the process of contacting graduate students at the various colleges and universities under the KTASA umbrella. If you know graduate students who would be interested in learning more about KTASA and in passing that information along to their peers, please send their names to me, David Magill, Department of English, University of Kentucky, Lexington KY 40506 (

I have also been involved with the ASA Students' Committee's plans for the national meeting in November. We have set up a "Town Hall Meeting" for the Montreal convention, where graduate students from across the nation will meet to discuss important issues, such as the state of the job market and the role of students in ASA. In addition, we are sponsoring mock interviews to assist advanced doctoral candidates with their preparation for the arduous process of finding jobs. Finally, in response to suggestions from the ASA Executive Committee, we have made the re-defining of American Studies an important agenda item.


John G. Cawelti (University of Kentucky) will retire from UK at the end of spring semester 2000. He has recently published an expanded and revised version of his pioneering popular culture study under the title The Six-Gun Mystique Sequel (Bowling Green 1998) and is working on revisions and new essays for a collection of his essays.

Pam Warford (Georgetown College) read a paper at last summer's Conference on American Studies at Dartmouth College. Prof. Warford was one of 45 invited participants at the conference, which focused on the future of inter- and multidisciplinary studies.

Chad Berry (Maryville College) is the author of Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles, a social history of southern white out-migration to the Midwest, scheduled for January 2000 publication by University of Illinois Press.

Charles Wolfe's (MTSU) A Good Natured Riot, about the early days of the Grand Old Opry, has won the Ralph Gleason Award as one of the best books about popular music published in 1999.

Charles Maland (UT Knoxville) appeared on the History Channel's "Movies in Time" series last spring and summer discussing Sydney Pollack's 1969 film, They Shoot Horses, Don't They? And John Ford's classic 1956 Western, The Searchers.

Michael Dunne (MTSU) has written the introductory chapter, "The Study of Popular Culture" for the upcoming Handbook of American Popular Culture, 3rd ed. Sara Dunne (MTSU) is writing the chapter on "Foodways" for the same volume. Michael and Sara Dunne are beginning their second three-year term as co-editors of Studies in Popular Culture.

The Kentucky Oral History Commission is sponsoring a Civil Rights Symposium February 10-12, 2000 at the new Kentucky History Center in Frankfort. Keynote speakers: Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of the Freedom Singers and Sweet Honey in the Rock, who will talk about the role of music in the movement; George Wright, author of History of Blacks in Kentucky, 1892-1970. For more information call or e-mail Betsy Brinson at the KOHC (502) 564-0472 (

The KTASA Archive is located at the Tennessee Historical Society, Nashville. It contains newsletters, annual meeting programs, copies of Border States, and other records and documents accumulated since the chapter's founding in 1955.

The Irish American Cultural Institute supports research on the Irish experience in America. Primary research is the program's focus; projects such as museum exhibitions and oral history collections are also eligible for funding. Write Irish Research Fund, IACI, 1 Lackawanna Place, Morristown NJ 07960 (

Kentucky-Tennessee ASA

Department of History

Eastern Kentucky University

Richmond KY 40475

Border States On-Line is hosted by Georgetown College.
This page was last updated on 1/26/00.

This web page is maintained by
Dr. Harold D. Tallant, Department of History, Georgetown College
400 East College Street, Georgetown, KY 40324, (502) 863-8075