On the Side of the Road: Lucinda Williams, Lead Belly, and American Fiction - Oklahoma Center for the Humanities
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On the Side of the Road: Lucinda Williams, Lead Belly, and American Fiction

In her introduction to Ink in the Grooves: Conversations on Literature and Rock ‘n’ Roll, Florence Dore aligns the book’s premise with her experience as a college student. As a student, Dore found herself reading elite, high-art literature and playing the popular, low art of rock music. This experience, of straddling two distinct camps in the art world, led to questions about the division between high and low culture. “There has always been bleed” between these two categories, she writes, “but at present we are witness to its utter erasure.” The book goes on to feature several artists and writers who explore or exemplify the dissolved boundaries between high and low art, between the literary and the musical. In considering our theme of freedom, how might such a mindset enable critics and fans in thinking about the relationship between so-called high and low art? How does liberation from a primarily elite thinking about literature and high art impact our critical conversations? Conversely, how does the liberation of pop music/rock from the status of low art impact our conversations?

Florence Dore is an academic and artist, a literary scholar and musician. And so her visit will reflect these interests: academic lecture and musical performance. Dore’s lecture will explore the intersection between two major figures in American folk music, Lucinda Williams and Lead Belly, and their relationship to American fiction more broadly. The other half of the event will feature music by Dore herself, a singer and songwriter whose new album, Highways and Rocketships, emerges from the same American folk-rock tradition as Williams and Lead Belly while weaving together such disparate influences as surf rock and country western. With this event, the OCH is thrilled to meld these two facets of the humanities, to bridge music and the intellectual thought that helps us to understand the role and significance of the arts and humanities. We are thrilled to explore the theme of “freedom” in such an interesting, nuanced way.

Join us Friday September 23, 5:00p-6:30p, at the Henry Zarrow Center for Arts and Education for what promises to be an electric (but also acoustic) evening. Part rock, part talk!

Florence Dore, musician and author, is touring on her new record Highways and RocketshipsFlorence recently played opening slots for Steve Earle, Son Volt, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and Southern Culture on the Skids and has had  airplay on SiriusXM radio shows hosted by Steve Earle and Mojo Nixon on Outlaw Country.  With Joe Swank at the helm doing radio, her record has been out a week and she’s already managed to get to the top 20 on the Alt.country chart. As a literary scholar, Dore joined the University of North Carolina faculty in 2010. She is a singer/songwriter and an academic, having published books and articles as well as released albums, and teaching in both the creative writing and literature programs at Carolina. She has held fellowships at New York University, the National Humanities Center, and the Institute for Arts and Humanities at UNC, has won grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. A member of the Steering Committee for Post45, a collective of scholars working on American Literature and Culture since 1945, Dore was also a founding co-editor for the Post45 Book Series at Stanford University Press. She sits on the advisory board for the Institute for Bob Dylan Studies at the University of Tulsa’s Bob Dylan Archive.