The Curious Incident of Poetry at Rotary
Not old, dead, nerdy, or stuck-up, poetry is alive and well and flourishing in Kentucky. This interactive presentation features snippets of poems by contemporary Kentucky poets, and provides opportunities to match titles and lines of poetry. “The Curious Incident” in the title refers to the first time this talk was presented publicly, at the January 3, 2019 meeting of Rotary in Murray. Audience consensus was that this was one of the best and most memorable presentations ever made before this decidedly un-poetic group.
Kilroy Was Here: Children on the World War II Home Front
On December 7, 1941, the United States was plunged into World War II. Life changed for everyone on the home front, regardless of age. Kilroy Was Here uses oral histories conducted with people who grew up in that turbulent era to tell the story of one Kentucky family. Artifacts from that time — including soldiers’ letters, a recipe, radio advertisements, and quotes from one of FDR’s most famous speeches — make Kilroy Was Here a history lesson and a moving family saga. Alexander’s presentation features excerpts from her book, Kilroy Was Here, and allows time for questions and discussion of oral history techniques as a way to capture family history and community stories that should not be forgotten.
Equipment needs: Microphone, podium
Arches, Waterfalls, and Wildflowers of Kentucky
Did you know that Kentucky has the second highest number of arches in the United States? And more than 600 waterfalls have been catalogued and photographed across the state? Or 10 different kinds of orchids reside in the Bluegrass? Celebrate Kentucky’s natural beauty! This presentation can be tailored for a variety of groups (from Scouts to garden clubs); geographically for your region; or otherwise narrow its focus to fit your needs. A slideshow of photographs accompanies colorful commentary to keep the presentation lively and engaging. Valerie Askren is the author of five guide books on exploring Kentucky outdoors.
Whether foraging on your own or discovering chicken-of-the-woods on an upscale restaurant menu, interest continues to grow in “Wild Edibles.” This presentation includes a look at the native cultures that relied on foraging to how modern-day chefs search for those unique ingredients to make their dishes truly local. Depending on the season, taste samples are provided. A slideshow of photographs accompanies colorful commentary to keep the presentation lively and engaging. Valerie Askren is the author of five guide books on exploring Kentucky outdoors.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen, access to power outlet
Social Media and the Pursuit of Happiness
A central part of a happy life is having deep relationships with others. One reason for the success of social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is that they provide new avenues of communication with others in our own community and around the world. In many ways, the value of these technologies depends on us. We can choose how to use them to foster deep relationships. However, they can also undermine our ability to connect with others. In this presentation, Professor Austin discusses the pros and cons of social media, from a moral and psychological point of view. Austin will also offer some practical advice for using social media in a way that supports, rather than undermines, our pursuit of happiness.
Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint is preferred, but not required
In recent years, there has been a renewal of interest concerning character. Character matters. Companies and colleges are not only concerned with the credentials of prospective employees and students, but with their character. For all of the concern about character, we focus less on how to develop it. In this presentation, Professor Austin shares what psychology, philosophy, and many of the world’s great wisdom traditions have to say about building character.
Revolutionary War in a Trunk
This hands-on, interactive program is fun for all ages! Baggett brings to his listeners an old wooden trunk full of interesting items and military equipment from the Revolutionary War period. His presentation utilizes reproductions of 18th Century weaponry, camp tools and equipment, clothing, toys, personal hygiene items, and other everyday necessities. This trunk full of Colonial “treasures” helps bring to life the reality of living on the Virginia and Kentucky frontier in the 1770s.
Equipment needs: Display tables
The Siege of Fort Jefferson — Western Kentucky’s Forgotten Battle of the Revolution
Most Kentuckians associate the raids and combat of the Revolutionary War in their home state with the central and eastern sections of the Commonwealth. Precious few people know that there was actually a Revolutionary War battle and siege in the far western end of Kentucky. Baggett tells the story of Fort Jefferson, a short-lived frontier outpost along the Mississippi River in what is now Ballard County. The fort was established in 1780 but abandoned in 1781 after a siege by the British and their Chickasaw Nation allies. The engagement involved the only major combat between American and Chickasaw forces in the American Revolution.
Equipment needs: Video projector, screen, display table
Betsy Johnson: Girl Patriot of Bryan Station, Kentucky
In August of 1782, the remote outpost at Bryan Station came under siege by a large band of Shawnee natives and British-Canadian Rangers. A group of incredibly brave women and their daughters ventured outside the walls of the station to carry water from the nearby spring back to the desperate families taking refuge inside the fort. Ten-year-old Elizabeth “Betsy” Johnson was one of those brave girls. Later that night, once the attack began in earnest, Betsy took an action that changed the course of American history. In this presentation, Geoff Baggett, author of A Bucket Full of Courage: Betsy Johnson of Bryan Station, tells the story of the Johnson family and their journey to Kentucky, their life on the frontier, and little Betsy’s amazing bravery as a Patriot of the American Revolution.
Equipment needs: Video projector, screen, display table
Where is Daniel Boone Buried? A Bare Bones History of the Fate of His Remains
After Daniel and Rebecca Boone’s remains were re-interred in Frankfort’s cemetery, rumors circulated that Kentuckians had made a mistake. Upon examining a cast of Daniel’s skull 140 years later, it was reported those rumors might be true. Belue journeys from Boone’s Missouri grave to his Kentucky grave, interspersed with images and never before revealed interviews. Belue edited two published Boone biographies, including Lyman C. Draper’s landmark The Life of Daniel Boone.
Daniel Boone: America’s First Frontier Hunter-Hero
Drawing from his book, The Hunters of Kentucky: A Narrative History of America’s First Far West, Professor Belue will give an overview of Boone’s life and place the renowned hunter in the broader context of American expansion, with focus on his Kentucky days, myths associated with the woodsman, his explorations, and role in opening Kentucky.
The Long Hunt: Death of the Buffalo East of the Mississippi
This presentation deals with buffalo roaming the east from the 1500s to the early 1800s as seen through native eyes and representative voices from explorers and pioneering Americans. The author of The Long Hunt: Death of the Buffalo East of the Mississippi, Belue will discuss the buffalo myths and lore, how buffalo trails paved the way for Kentucky’s railroads and roadways, Native American lifeways, ecology, and impact of Long Hunters in opening Kentucky, America’s first Far West.
Equipment needs: Podium, computer with projector for PowerPoint, display table, easel
Travel: Regions 1 & 2
The Kentucky Tragedy in Fact and Fiction
In the early morning hours of November 7, 1825, Jereboam O. Beauchamp, in disguise and armed with a knife, visited the Frankfort home of former Kentucky Attorney General and newly elected State Representative Solomon P. Sharp. When Sharp answered the door, Beauchamp greeted him by stabbing him to death. His motive, he would later claim, was to avenge the honor of his wife Anna Cooke Beauchamp, with whom Sharp was alleged to have fathered an illegitimate, stillborn child. Beauchamp was apprehended, tried, and sentenced to death. Dubbed “the Kentucky Tragedy,” this story of politics, sex, and murder received widespread coverage in the press. It was the subject of multiple fictional adaptations, including, in the 19th century, two novels by William Gilmore Simms and an unfinished play by Edgar Allan Poe; and, in the 20th century, a novel by Kentucky native Robert Penn Warren. This presentation investigates what this lurid tale and its subsequent fictionalizations might show us about 19th-century Kentucky politics and its many and complex legacies. In its various tellings and retellings, the Kentucky Tragedy, Blandford suggests, becomes a larger American story, figuring distinctively antebellum anxieties about sex, race, and the authority of the state to punish crime, while also anticipating enduring concerns about the legitimacy of the electoral process.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen
20 Russians to Watch in 2020
As relations between the United States and Russia continue to deteriorate, media attention has focused on a number of concerning developments in areas of politics, free speech, and the adversarial military postures of our nations. Dr. Blasing’s presentation takes you behind the headlines to offer a different view of Russia and Russians today. Blasing will feature profiles of 20 contemporary Russians who are engaged in important, innovative — sometimes controversial — work in their fields of journalism, science and technology, human rights, and the creative arts.
Snapshots of the Soul: Russian Poetry on Photography
What compels a poet to turn to a photograph as the subject of a poem, as material for a metaphor, or as the structural framework for a poem? This presentation explores how the development of photography has shaped poetic writing in Russian from the early 20th century to the present day. Drawing on theories of lyric and elegy, the social history of technology, and little-known materials from Russian literary archives, Dr. Blasing will examine how encounters with photographs and photography intersect with poetic writing for a range of Russian-language poets, in emigration as well as in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen, Wi-Fi connection
Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball
Known as the “Man in the Brown Suit” and the “Baron of the Bluegrass,” Adolph Rupp is a towering figure in the history of college athletics. In Adolph Rupp and the Rise of Kentucky Basketball, historian James Duane Bolin goes beyond the wins and losses to present a full-length portrait of Rupp based on more than 100 interviews with Rupp, his assistant coaches, former players, University of Kentucky presidents and faculty members, and his admirers and critics, as well as court transcripts, newspaper accounts, and other archival materials. This presentation, based on Bolin’s new book, presents the fullest account of Rupp’s life to date. Rupp’s influence on the game of college basketball and on his adopted Kentucky home are both much broader than his impressive record on the court. Bolin covers Rupp’s early years — from his rural upbringing in a German Mennonite family in Halstead, Kansas, through his undergraduate years at the University of Kansas playing on teams coached by Phog Allen and taking classes with James Naismith, the inventor of basketball — to his success at Kentucky. This revealing portrait of a pivotal figure in American sports also exposes how college basketball changed, for better or worse, in the 20th century.
Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint, screen
Horses Speak to Our Souls
Kentucky is horse country. Horses have fueled our economy, our identity, and our passion. They have been the source of spiritual wisdom for human souls for eons. They are the most-drawn images among cave art, and their presence in our state continues to inspire us. They even heal us of deep wounds in our souls — returning veterans often find healing from PTSD through horse therapy. This presentation touches on the history of the horse in Kentucky, our long-time love affair with the horse, and the wisdom horses have for us as humans relating to each other and to these magnificent creatures. An equestrian and Episcopal Priest, Laurie Brock will share these insights horses have for us in ways that speak broadly to the human spiritual experience.
Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Mattie Griffith Browne: Kentucky Abolitionist & Suffragist
The year 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote in the United States. Mattie Griffith Browne was a Kentucky Abolitionist and Suffragist who fought to make women’s voting rights possible, but whose name has largely been forgotten. Mattie Griffith Browne is not on the list of famous suffragettes or abolitionists, but she was both and made quite a stir in her time. Born to a family of wealth and privilege in the early 19th century in Louisville and raised in Owensboro, she received a formal education, became a prolific writer and was raised with slaves serving her family. In 1857, she wrote a novel, Autobiography of a Female Slave, to raise funds to free the slaves she inherited. For some time, people thought the book was an actual autobiography. When it became known that a white woman and not a former slave wrote the book, there was a scandal. She took a great risk in writing a book that would provide sympathy for enslaved Africans throughout the South. She took an even greater risk in freeing her slaves. Mattie’s life is a glimpse into her passion for freedom, citizenship, and voting rights for all Americans — black and white, male and female — at a time when these ideas were very controversial.
Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint, screen
The Prehistoric Roots of English
How old is the English language? Where does it come from? And where is it going? In this presentation, Andrew Byrd will talk about the connections of the English language with hundreds of languages spoken around the world, both living and dead. Tracing English back 7,000 years ago to a language spoken in Central Eurasia, audiences will examine how these people lived, what they believed in, and what we think they sounded like.
Inventing Languages for Video Games
These days, it is quite common to find invented languages in movies (such as Star Trek and Avatar), TV (such as Game of Thrones and The Expanse), as well as in video games. In this presentation, Andrew Byrd will discuss his work on the Ubisoft video game “Far Cry Primal” and together, with the audience, we will create our own language by examining the basic building blocks of all languages.
Equipment needs: Computer, projector, screen
Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
He’s in the Hospital with His Kidneys and Other Adventures in
From Facebook entries like the one listed in the title to marquees proclaiming Kerosene Salad Bars, our world is full of communication blunders. This fun filled presentation explores some notable instances of miscommunication. Guaranteed to have audiences laughing!
Humor: Don’t Leave Home Without It
Mrs. Caldwell is well known in her community as a master storyteller. As a veteran of 43 years in the classroom, minister’s wife, mother, and cancer survivor, she has plenty of stories to tell. This presentation is guaranteed to have audiences laughing along with her and leaving the event feeling confident that with humor they can handle anything.
Equipment needs: Podium, microphone
Little Red Riding Hood on Pinterest
One of today’s most popular websites/apps is Pinterest, a place created for users to collect images for electronic bulletin boards that they can share with others. Popular boards include recipes, decorating ideas, fashions, magazine and book clippings, art, and animals. Because of its world-wide reach and extensive database of images, Pinterest provides a fertile ground for studying what ideas, objects, or images appear over and over in the popular imagination and how they have been displayed, interpreted, or reimagined. This presentation looks at how the story of Little Red Riding Hood is represented on Pinterest, and what those images can tell us about why this fairy tale is ubiquitous in the popular imagination, what various audiences have made of its moral or message, and what we might conclude about why generation after generation continues to reinvent it for their time.
Women writers have always excelled in popular mystery fiction — from the “golden age” of Agatha Christie to modern-day heroines created by authors like Kentuckian Sue Grafton. Come explore with Diane Calhoun-French why this genre has always been dominated by women writers and who some of the best of them — both old and new — are. Be prepared to discuss favorites of your own.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen
Fiction or Non-Fiction: The Importance of Writing From the Heart
Ernest Hemingway once said, “All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” If you begin with radical honesty, whether it be a fictional character’s or your own, for a memoir or an essay, you will be working from a place of integrity, of genuine sincerity. Not everyone will agree with you, or your character, but art does not exist to make people like you. Quite the opposite, great literature and theatre are here to show bravely and unashamedly, through specific personalities and quirks, actions and dialogue how individual we all are. Incredibly, one finds the more precise that point of view, the more universal. Erin Chandler will point to her experience writing her memoir, June Bug Versus Hurricane, published in 2018, Cinderella Sweeping Up, a collection of essays released in 2019 and her weekly column for the Woodford Sun in Versailles, What Today Brings as examples of stretching our imaginations as well as our courage to tell the truth.
Finding Your Grace in the Face of Adversity
We all grew up with ideas about what our lives would look like. Rarely does reality match those early notions. What are we to do when the dream of being a football player is dashed because of an injury, the desire to have a happy family is crushed by divorce, or the ambition to travel the world is no longer feasible because of the sudden circumstance of caring for a relative? When we make peace with the fact that this is our new normal, we are able to change our idea of what life looks like. When we accept life as it is at this very moment, we learn to appreciate and thrive in new ways we had not yet dreamed. We come to new conclusions about what is enough. Erin Chandler’s personal experience of having to change vocations because of an auto-immune weakness will inform this talk as well as examples of people known and unknown. She will show that there are indeed endless ways to live a happy life.
The Kentucky Derby: A Celebration of Kentucky and its Heritage
Claypool traces the origins and development of the Kentucky Derby, the world's most famous horse race and a powerful influence on Kentucky society and culture. He will use memorabilia collected during his 40-year passion for the race.
Rascals, Heroes, and Just Plain Uncommon Folks from Kentucky
In this talk, Claypool will profile a choice selection of the many colorful Kentuckians, male and female, noted and notorious, whose stories make our history so interesting and entertaining. The format of the program contains an exciting and stimulating surprise for the audience to wield its power even today.
Song's of Kentucky's Civil War
This program offers a lively presentation with recordings of some of the most popular songs from the North and South during the American Civil War. Claypool discusses the origins, importance, and placement in historical context of each song.
Equipment needs: Microphone and a small table
Speaking Our Piece: Language Variation in Kentucky
Kentucky is located at a particularly interesting crossroads in the linguistic landscape of the United States. This presentation introduces the specific linguistic situation in Kentucky by examining several linguistic, sociolinguistic, and educational aspects of language in the many diverse regions of the Commonwealth. We will explore not only how language is variously produced but also how people’s impressions of the language of their fellow Kentuckians changes from place to place.
The Myths and Realities of Appalachian Englishes
Have you ever heard someone say that people from the Appalachian Mountains sound like Shakespeare? Or maybe you’ve been told that the language spoken there is frozen in time. These and other misconceptions about the linguistic varieties employed by Appalachians have hidden the vibrant and dynamic nature of their language and helped to perpetuate the idea that speakers of these dialects are old-fashioned and backwards. This presentation examines the myths and realities surrounding Appalachian Englishes by providing evidence that these varieties, like all others, are constantly changing.
Equipment needs: Projector (with connection) and ability to play sound preferred
Travel: Regions 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Appalachian Culture, Yesterday and Today
Appalachian culture and history continue to be popular topics across America. In this presentation, eastern Kentuckyauthor and filmmaker, Jerry Deaton, gives his perspectives on current and past issues facing the people and land of his region. The presentation can be geared toward the political and socio-economic issues facing the region, utilizing his experience as a lobbyist in Frankfort and through the making of his film, Harry Caudill, A Man of Courage. The presentation can also focus on cultural issues such as the region’s rich history, folklore, and interesting way of life as evidenced in Jerry’s book Appalachian Ghost Stories, his memoir Kentucky Boy, and his film The Feuds of Bloody Breathitt.
Harry Caudill, Man of Courage
Deaton’s interest in the issues facing eastern Kentucky moved him to write and produce a film on the author and activist Harry Caudill of Whitesburg, Kentucky. This presentation focuses on Mr. Caudill’s life and on his provocative best selling book Night Comes to the Cumberlands. Deaton offers his perspectives on the social and environmental messages Mr. Caudill presented more than 50 years ago, messages perhaps as relevant today as then.
Mountain Ghost Stories
Deaton grew up in the mountains of eastern Kentucky hearing old-time ghost stories as told by his father and grandmother. In this presentation, he reads from his book, Appalachian Ghost Stories, and talks about the odd and often eerie folk traditions that he experienced and often heard about as he grew up in Breathitt County.
Legends and Lore from America’s Most Haunted Neighborhood
The most haunted neighborhood in America? That’s what many are calling Old Louisville, an extensive preservation district filled with old mansions and strikingly beautiful homes in Kentucky’s largest city. Wherever you go in this eye-popping neighborhood, it seems that a haunted house is not far away — or a haunted church, a haunted street corner, or a haunted park. Over the last two decades, so many stories of supernatural activity have surfaced in the area that Old Louisville has gained the reputation as being the spookiest neighborhood in the entire country. Author David Dominé shares some of the most famous legends and alleged hauntings from this beautiful historic preservation district.
America’s Most Exuberant Neighborhood
Since it was declared an historic preservation district in the 1970s, many have considered Old Louisville one of the most architecturally exuberant neighborhoods in the country. Constructed primarily between 1880 and 1905, the residences in Old Louisville showcase a wide variety of building styles. If you like old homes and fabulous architecture, this is a neighborhood you will want to know about. Author David Dominé shares stories and architectural details while introducing the audience to the history and homemakers behind its most impressive structures.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen, computer for PowerPoint presentation
Choosing a President: Understanding the Electoral College
The 2016 election has reinvigorated talk of abolishing the Electoral College, an institution that has evoked controversy since its origins at the Constitutional Convention in 1787. Any useful discussion of the Electoral College must take into account both its origins and the way its operations have changed over time, but myths about this history abound. This presentation will identify and challenge the most prevalent of these myths, but will offer no recommendations about the future of the Electoral College.
Five Myths about the Civil Rights Movement
In spite of Americans’ almost universal willingness to embrace the idea of black equality and to retroactively applaud African Americans’ mid-20th century struggles to achieve it, popular depictions of the civil rights movement often reflect a shallow and even misguided understanding. This presentation will explore the misconceptions that shape our understanding of the civil rights movement, demonstrate how these faulty beliefs limit discussions of equality in the present, and offer evidence-based correctives to these myths.
Equipment needs: Projector
The Future of News
Columnist, editor, writer and photographer Tom Eblen, a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, talks about the economic, technological, and societal forces reshaping American journalism. Newsprint is going away. Cable TV and commercial radio are declining. Digital delivery has become king, but social media has created a sphere of propaganda, misinformation, and “fake” news. While there has never been greater need for fact-based journalism, the local/regional news industry hasn’t developed a new business model to replace traditional advertising. As the ranks of professional journalists dwindle, what are the implications for government and corporate accountability — if not American democracy?
Athens of the West
Journalist Tom Eblen, one of the authors of the 2012 University Press of Kentucky book Bluegrass Renaissance: The History and Culture of Central Kentucky, 1792-1852, tells how Lexington, in the early 1800s, was the most important city in what was then western America. He gives an entertaining presentation and slideshow about this brief golden age in Central Kentucky and some of the amazing characters it produced: great statesmen, doctors, lawyers, architects, civil rights leaders, artists, craftsmen, and business tycoons. What can we learn from this era, and how has it affected the nearly two centuries of Kentucky history since?
Equipment needs: Projector and screen
The Gist Boys: Sequoyah & Gratz
Here is the true story of Sequoyah (George Gist), inventor of the Cherokee written language and his half-nephew, Henry Howard Gratz, editor of the Kentucky Gazette. This program traces the lives of each: famous relatives, literary achievements, political proclivities and common characteristics. Spanning three centuries and four wars, the Gist Boys were on the forefront of American history from Jackson to Lincoln, in Kentucky, Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma. Terry Foody illuminates their accomplishments and escapades through articles, letters and interviews.
Heroes in Disaster: The 1833 Cholera Epidemic in Lexington
During the 19th century, cholera raged through the United States several times, and Kentucky had very high fatality rates. In 1833, cholera killed one-tenth of Lexington’s population in just a few weeks. Terry Foody examines the devastation in Lexington from many angles — environmental, commercial, social, and medical. She will discuss early altruistic efforts, the black woman behind the white hero, founding of orphan asylum, and societal trends revealed in death reports. Despite great medical advances, cholera is still a worldwide killer. Foody explains why and compares it to other threatening global diseases, such as SARS, Ebola and pandemic flu.
Equipment needs: Laptop with projector
Milton Rogovin’s Working People
This presentation considers the documentary photography of Milton Rogovin, who took pictures of working people the world over. His photography not only portrays people at their places of work, it also depicts them in their private homes and neighborhoods, giving them a human face and showing them in a kinder light. Christopher Fulton will discuss the photography, its political orientation, and its particular social and artistic value.
The Medici and Their Art
This presentation concerns the Medici family of Florence, Italy, which was a long-standing political dynasty and a vital source of intellectual and artistic patronage in the Renaissance period. Christopher Fulton will elucidate recognizable masterpieces of Medici art by relating them to the family’s private lives and political interests.
Equipment needs: Projector for PowerPoint
Chromatic Homes: The Joy of Color in Historic Places
Dr. John “Han’s Gilderbloom, considered “one of the world’s top urban thinkers,” has released his sixth book Chromatic Homes: The Joy of Color in Historic Places, which has been hailed as a brilliant masterpiece of how to revitalize an ugly neighborhood. Dr. Gilderbloom provides a powerful survey of how chromatic homes have changed the look and prosperity of neighborhoods. He argues that Kentucky is a leader in the chromatic homes movement. Along with a survey of chromatic homes around the world, he features 68 photos of Kentucky’s fabulous painted ladies. Gilderbloom argues that the cheapest and fastest way to spark neighborhood revitalization is painting a home chromatically with bright vivid colors.
Equipment needs: Projector and screen for Powerpoint
Chromatic Homes: How to Paint Your Victorian Home and Spark a Neighborhood Revival
John I. “Hans” Gilderbloom’s seventh book Chromatic Homes: The Design and Coloring Book is a companion volume that will assist in this hands-on exercise where audience members get to color Kentucky’s classic Victorian homes with brilliant colors. Gilderbloom will teach audiences how to reimagine their neighborhood and create beauty, lovability, and prosperity. Dr. Gilderbloom shows how this was done in Kentucky to spark pride.
Equipment needs: Desk or table
Copernicus and the High Seas
Once upon a time we had a very different idea about how the Earth was structured than we do today. It took Christopher Columbus to upset that idea. His encountering the Americas both paved the way for Copernicus to envision an Earth that turned, and removed a little supernatural from the world.
Star Wars: On the Wrong Side of History & Science
The Star Wars universe is a “Thing of the Past.” The ideas upon which that universe is built are fading rapidly. They are ideas that are truly, as the phrase goes, “on the wrong side of history,” and of science. Today, we seem to be in the midst of a great revolution in our view of the universe — and Star Wars is pre-revolution. Star Wars is set in a wonderfully imaginative universe that features a profusion of cool planets, cooler alien life forms, and the coolest space ships. But that universe, with Tatooine, Dagobah, Naboo, Jakku, Endor, and all their fantastic creatures and “people” is a well-worn idea, and an idea whose time has passed. Science and history are twin Dreadnoughts closing in on and crushing the Star Wars universe like the First Order picking off the last remnants of Princess/General Leia Organa’s little fleet. This presentation will argue that science and history strongly suggest that the universe seen in Star Wars — universe full of intelligent, technologically advanced extraterrestrial life; that is, full of Space Aliens — is simply not plausible.
Equipment needs: Computer and projector
Kentucky Faith — A Treasure Chest
Abbey of Gethsemani. Shaker Village. The Ark Encounter. Snake handlers. “I Wonder As I Wander.” Bad Girls of the Bible. Sister Spalding. Revivals at Asbury. Barton Stone & America’s first camp meeting. Alexander Campbell. Race Track Chaplaincy of America. Mordecai Ham & Billy Graham. Daniel Boone’s written confession. World’s largest handmade stained glass window. Shaped-note hymnals. St. Catherine Motherhouse. “The Kentucky Holy Land.” Buckhorn Log Cathedral. Amish neighbors. Kentucky Holocaust survivors. This visual and hands-on presentation travels through the Bluegrass to show diverse elements of our rich religious history. Amen.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen, table
There is An Art to Listening
We communicate in four ways — reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Even though we spend more time listening than the other skills, we are rarely taught how to listen. “Pay attention” hardly qualifies for developing this active art. Poor listening skills will increase stress and hurt relationships, as well as contribute to poor performance in school and at work. Participants will identify their listening style and how to practice what great listeners do through a new strategy called E.A.R.F.U.L.
The Storytelling Art
Explore the heart of the art of storytelling with award-winning storyteller and writer Mary Hamilton, author of Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies. Using examples from her oral and written repertoire, Hamilton shines light on what storytelling is and how it functions both as a performing art and as an essential element of everyday life.
Liar, Liar, Storyteller
Kentuckians have long entertained each other by stretching the truth to impossibility. Using selections from her oral repertoire and her book, Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies, Hamilton examines the traditional and evolving contemporary uses of tall tale telling.
Dread, deception, death, and dismemberment — such are the ingredients of Kentucky tales that have fed nightmares for generations. In this talk, Hamilton shares sample stories and reveals who told them, who collected them, and how she came to add them to her repertoire and publish them in her book, Kentucky Folktales: Revealing Stories, Truths, and Outright Lies.
Equipment needs: Microphone on a pole stand
Vietnam: A 50 Year Retrospective
The war in Vietnam tore our nation apart like few other events in its history. It divided neighbors, colleagues, and churches. It divided fathers and sons, even among top U.S. policymakers. It helped trigger cultural wars that have lasted to the present. It still haunts us even as we commemorate its 50th anniversary. This presentation will seek to explain why this war was so traumatic and divisive and will examine the way we as a nation have attempted to deal with these divisions in its aftermath. It will take a special look at the impact of the war on Kentucky and Kentuckians.
Abe Lincoln, Diplomat
Abraham Lincoln is known as a child of the frontier, a brilliant storyteller, writer, debater, a successful small-town lawyer, a leader of his nation during its most desperate crisis, and a pretty fair amateur military strategist. What is not so well known is his remarkable success while president as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Diplomacy was crucial to the outcome of the Civil War. Intervention by Europe’s great powers or even recognition of the Confederacy as an independent nation could have spelled disaster for the Union. Lincoln proved an adept crisis manager. This self-educated backwoodsman matched wits with Europe’s best, and maneuvered skillfully to help forestall European intervention. This presentation will discuss Lincoln’s role as one of America’s most effective diplomats and propose that his practical idealism offers a model that might well be applied today.
Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen for PowerPoint
Exploring Kentucky: Historical Destinations and Natural Wonders
A drive straight across the Bluegrass State takes nearly eight hours. But that would bypass all the worthwhile distractions between Paw Paw in Pike County and the Kentucky Bend of the Mississippi River in Fulton County. Treasures like Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home that rests inside a Greek-style temple. From rip-roaring barn dances in Rabbit Hash to the silent reverence of the monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Commonwealth is chock-full of timeless landmarks. Kentucky native Blair Thomas Hess is the author of four travel books about Kentucky’s history, its people, and its natural wonders. This presentation will highlight fun and educational destinations to help Kentuckians of all ages explore the amazing and irreplaceable things that make the state one of a kind.
Famous Kentucky Flavors: Bourbon, Burgoo, and Benedictine
Kentucky has a rich tradition of good eatin’, with famous classics like fried chicken and bourbon balls as well as lesser known Bluegrass mainstays like spoonbread, burgoo, and Derby pie. It is also the state where bourbon barrels outnumber residents — and no, we’re not kidding. This presentation will dish out the rich culinary traditions of Kentucky and discuss how the culture and history of the state are woven through its bourbon and its food. Blair Thomas Hess is the author of four travel guides about Kentucky’s history, bourbon, and food, and she will highlight the best local foods, drinks, festivals, and where you can travel to see where it all started. This presentation will offer an overview of the state’s history of bourbon and how Kentucky’s culture was shaped by the industry. It will also discuss all of the state’s culinary claims to fame — the dishes and the masterminds behind them.
Equipment needs: Projector
Writing Your Memoir
Do you have a true story from your life that you have been wanting to write down? What is a memoir, and how does one get started writing one? In this workshop we will read and discuss some short excerpts of memoirs and begin writing a piece of our own.
Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir
This presentation includes a creative reading of Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman’s book, Sounds Like Titanic: A Memoir, followed by a question and answer session with the audience.
When aspiring violinist Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman lands a job with a professional ensemble in New York City, she imagines she has achieved her lifelong dream. But the ensemble proves to be a sham. When the group “performs” the microphones are never on. Instead, the music blares from a CD. The mastermind behind this scheme is a peculiar and mysterious figure known as The Composer, who is gaslighting his audiences with music that sounds suspiciously like the Titanic movie soundtrack. On tour with his chaotic ensemble, Hindman spirals into crises of identity and disillusionment as she “plays” for audiences genuinely moved by the performance, unable to differentiate real from fake.
The Southern Culture in Kentucky’s Shaker Villages
Kentucky’s Shaker villages, South Union and Pleasant Hill, drew converts from the South. Those converts brought their own well-established manners, customs, and cultural biases into environments and systems that had been designed by Shakers rooted in the Northeast. South Union, in particular, had a difficult time adapting and, consequently, created a material culture and maintained a folklife that was unique among Shaker villages. From the food they ate to the furniture they produced ... from the way they spoke to the methods in which they constructed buildings ... the Kentucky Shakers were set apart from their northern counterparts. Their story is colorful, humorous, heart-breaking, and fascinating.
Rural Kentucky Through the Lens of George H. Dabbs
George H. Dabbs was a Morgantown, Kentucky, photographer who worked from 1904 until 1934. Not only was he successful as a portrait photographer, but he was also a preservationist, capturing a quickly fading past. He left behind an incredible array of images that documented homes and workplaces, community events, disasters, and celebrations. His masterful work also included photographs of the last days of the colorful steamboat era on the Green River. Insightful, creative, and nostalgic, Dabbs’ art is a priceless look into the distant past of a typical small town in Kentucky.
Equipment needs: Screen, electricity, table for projector
What is a Kentuckian?
This is a humorous and informative look at the enduring images Kentuckians and others have of the state and its people — from that of barefoot, warring hillbillies to southern aristocrats. The presentation touches on Kentucky’s core values of family and home, individualism and community, basketball and horse racing, snake handlers and mega churches, tobacco and whiskey and wine, yellow dog Democrats and dastardly Republicans. Kentucky will be presented as the nation’s true borderland and heart.
Kentucky in American Politics: the Building of a Nation
This presentation recounts Kentucky’s participation in the wars that forged the American nation: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War. It notes the Kentuckians who have led the national legislature, and describes how Kentuckians’ votes in national elections have been reflective of country-wide trends.
Equipment needs: Podium
The African American Background
In this presentation, Raphael Jackson will look at the connections between the Caribbean, American, and African communities in the United States and abroad — linking music, religion, and activism. Jackson will look at the history of African civilizations and their impact on world history and culture as well as the continent’s 1.2 billion population and its African diaspora in the Caribbean, South, Central, and North American continents. Jackson will connect the linkages between the African contributions to world civilizations and our need to recognize and respect the contributions of Africans in the past and the future. The presentation will include the languages, the music, the arts the cuisine and history of the continent. As the world’s second largest continent and its mineral resources, knowledge of Africa and its influence on world trends is mandatory for the further well being of human society. In our efforts to get along in this global society, the knowledge of Africa and its people is essential. Moving beyond the well-entrenched stereotypes (The Dark Continent) and neo stereotypes (Modernized Tarzan) a new outlook on African people and civilization is crucial to forming a new paradigm concerning the continent and its people.
Equipment needs: Projector
Front Porches, Kentucky, and Your Hometown
Once upon a time, the front porch was the great pulpit, the community stage for families and hometowns. The emotional horizon over America has changed so much over the past 10 years. Anger, guns, school violence, and stress seem to permeate everything. These days, they don’t even build front porches on homes anymore. How do we get the “front porch spirit” back into our Kentucky communities?
Equipment needs: PA system with two microphones and two stands
Five Wars: A Soldiers Journey to Peace
Fred Johnson served in the Army for 29 years and deployed to war four times: twice to Iraq and once each to Afghanistan and Bosnia. However, his most dangerous war, and the one that nearly killed him, was his fifth war, the one at home. In this talk, Johnson will speak to his state of mind struggling with PTSD and contemplation of suicide. Johnson discusses the events and experiences that brought him to the point of self destruction and how he was healed with the help of mental health professionals, friends, the arts, and a renewed sense of purpose through community service. Johnson concludes the talk with how he will stay healthy and pass his lessons learned on to others.
Equipment needs: If audio visual is available there is a PowerPoint presentation, but it is not mandatory
Once More Unto the Breach: Shakespeare with Veterans
No one in the English language speaks more directly to the warrior's heart and spirit than William Shakespeare. Shakespeare with Veterans was founded in partnership with Kentucky Shakespeare with the intent of bringing former armed service members to gather as band of brothers and sisters to share their experiences and connect them with Shakespeare's words and plays. Fred Johnson's presentation discusses how the program was formed and how veterans whose service span from the Vietnam War to present-day conflicts have benefited from the process. Johnson concludes with the importance of art and how it heals internal wounds in a most profound way.
Equipment needs: If audio visual is available there is a PowerPoint presentation, but it is not mandatory
Quilt Art: Examining the Narrative in Kentucky Quilts
Based on historical records, secondary sources, and oral history interviews with quilters across Kentucky, Johnson discusses 19th century quilts made by black women living and working on slave plantations, traditional quilts made by African American women of the 20th century, as well as contemporary art quilts made by women of all cultural groups of the 21st century. Her work explores women’s history, storytelling, identity politics, social activism, and empowerment. Her study of quilts in Kentucky is aimed at examining cross-cultural parallels in technique and assemblage, as well as revealing unique designs.
Roots and Branches: West African Aesthetics in African American Quilts
Knowledge is power! This presentation is designed to enrich, encourage, and engage elementary through high school students. It includes either a PowerPoint presentation or an exhibition booth.
The PowerPoint presentation includes photographs and links to video footage of African cultural groups making textiles. These are part of Dr. Johnson’s ethnographic fieldwork while studying in Ghana. This information is then compared with Johnson’s footage of African Americans making quilts. An interpretation of signs and symbols and their meanings are discussed. The exhibition booth includes one-on-one talks and display boards featuring photographs of African textile production and African American quiltmaking, along with handouts and sample textiles for students to see and touch.
Equipment needs: Screen, projector
From Page to Podcast
Published playwright and children’s story author Jonathan Joy reads from his work, and shares tips for getting work to new audiences via podcast.
From Page to Stage
Award winning playwright and Kentucky college professor Jonathan Joy shares from his work, talks about the many benefits of theatre, and provides a plan for incorporating drama activities into classrooms at the elementary to college levels.
My Old Kentucky Poem: Creating Our Myth through Folklore and Poetry
Much of Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s poetry draws inspiration from Kentucky folklore, using poetry to explore the stories, beliefs, and people of our pasts that live with us and haunt us in our present. In this presentation, McCartt-Jackson reads from her award-winning books and chapbooks, discussing her professional background as folklorist and poet, and how she weaves folk narratives, beliefs, and oral history of Kentucky and Appalachia into her poems. McCartt-Jackson also discusses how others can use their own family history in their creative expression.
Write Where You Are: Poetry and Place
We often teach writers of all abilities to “write what you know.” In Sarah McCartt-Jackson’s case, she writes of the places she knows. In this presentation, she reads from her newest books, highlighting how she uses poetry and place to explore deeper truths about people, history, wilderness, home, and cultural and physical landscapes in her poetry. McCartt-Jackson encourages audiences to experience place through sensory-based approaches, and discusses how to incorporate a rooted awareness of place into creative expression.
Equipment needs: Microphone
“Ignoring Nosey Charlie”: JFK, de Gaulle, and America’s Drift to War in Vietnam
In his forthcoming book, JFK and de Gaulle: How America and France Failed in Vietnam, 1961-1963, Sean McLaughlin presents a new explanation for the great American tragedy in Vietnam. The central argument of his book is that JFK held long-running francophobic prejudices that blinded him to the merits of French peace initiatives that could’ve led to a negotiated settlement in Vietnam before the United States had formally entered the war. In this presentation, McLaughlin will discuss his position, present his research, and discuss how America ended up entering the war.
Kennedy Comes to Kentucky
Despite all of his advantages, John F. Kennedy had to fight an underdog campaign to win the presidency in 1960 against the sitting vice president, Richard Nixon. This was an election in which every vote in every state mattered. Kennedy understood that as a wealthy, Catholic New Englander he couldn’t take voters in heavily Baptist Appalachian states for granted even if they had reliably voted for Democratic presidents in the past. As a result, Kennedy spent three crucial October days in Kentucky, with stops in Louisville, Bowling Green, and Paducah, but in the end Kentucky’s electoral votes went to Nixon. This presentation explores how Kentuckians responded when their faith and political allegiance seemed to be pulling them in opposite directions.
Equipment needs: Computer, projector
Unprecedented! Mary Creegan Roark: First Female College President, 1909-1910
In 1909, Mary Creegan Roark became the second president of the newly-created Eastern Kentucky State Normal School. This unanimous decision came at a time when women couldn’t vote, own property, or be awarded custody of their children in a divorce. She replaced the first president, her husband Ruric, when he was hospitalized and later died. As president, Mary completed construction projects, increased enrollment and started an agriculture program. Despite doing an outstanding job with “fortitude, courage, and efficiency,” Mary was replaced a year later. Marie Mitchell will discuss Mary’s legacy, education training, school house conditions, corruption among school trustees, plus women’s rights that Mary tirelessly campaigned for, with Laura Clay calling her “the spirit of the movement.”
Becoming Immortal. Living Forever Through Stories.
Stories are the glue that holds families together. They entertain and enlighten us. They cross the generational divide and connect us with the past, present, and future. But if not written down, the rich detail of people, places, and things that have made a difference in our lives can be lost and forgotten. Through her columns in The Richmond Register, and in teaching classes on writing your memoirs, Marie Mitchell shares her own personal stories about growing up physically in Iowa and professionally in Kentucky — from detasseling corn with her sisters in the sizzling summer heat, hunting nightcrawlers with her grandpa in the neighbors’ gardens after a hard rain, yard saling with her mom, and fielding fly balls from her dad after supper, to applying to be the first journalist in space. She encourages her audience to write one memorable moment at a time to prove that they “really lived!”
Equipment needs: Projector, microphone
Travel: Region 6
Detective Novels for Your Reading Bucket List
From the first detective stories of Edgar Allan Poe, followed by the sensations of Sherlock Holmes, Miss Marple, Phillip Marlowe, and today’s Tess Monaghan, mysteries have been perhaps our favorite genre for pleasure reading. Detective writer Rock Neelly takes readers through the history of sleuths and gumshoes, from the police procedural to the cozy. Whom have you read? Who has eluded capture thus far? It’s a thrill ride through the past, with 38 high-caliber detective writers for your bucket list. This presentation includes a question and answer session and a chance for audience members to add new authors to your list and to add your favorite authors to the speaker’s list.
The 20 Best Noir Films and the Books That Inspired Them
The ’30s and ’40s in America saw a new motion picture art form take hold — the noir detective film. Hundreds were made — audiences saw them in droves. Why were they so popular? What were their characteristics? Who were the big stars of these sordid tales? These films were dark stories of intrigue with femme fatales attempting to trap men in their clutches, morally compromised men all-too-willing to be ensnared, detectives looking to sort out the bodies, and all those shadows! This presentation incudes film clips galore and sneak peaks into the best noir of all time. Detective novelist Rock Neelly takes you to the drive-in of yesteryear for an hour of noir and naughtiness.
Equipment needs: Computer, projector
Kentucky Stories, Music, and Folk Art
In this presentation, Mike Norris tells stories, reads selections from his four children’s books, and sings (with guitar and harmonica accompaniment). His books have been critically praised and reviewed as “appropriate for ages four to 94.” The Kentucky-flavored stories communicate on multiple levels with humor, suspense, and surprising themes. Norris includes stories of growing up in Jackson County, his remarkable grandmother, and how he met and formed a 25-year creative partnership with acclaimed folk artist Minnie Adkins. Adkins’ wooden carvings are photographed to provide unique illustrations for Norris’ books.
Luring Students to Succeed: The Power of Words
This presentation offers concrete suggestions and examples that will help parents and teachers make the study of language arts and other subjects fun and exciting for young people. The presentation is organized around the notion that language is the most powerful tool we possess — the one that enables us to succeed in relationships, to entertain ourselves, to earn a living, and to negotiate life. Norris makes the case that the attractions of language can be transformative. This is particularly true if materials are presented in a way that reflects the culture of students, and this highly motivating approach makes their success in school and beyond much more likely.
Equipment needs: Projector, microphone
The Road to Statehood
It took eight years, 10 statehood conventions, a fight with Native Americans, and the concurrence of Congress and Virginia — and a conspiracy with Spain — to achieve statehood for Kentucky.
Why History Matters
Originally designed for the Leadership Lexington program, this presentation discusses why an understanding and appreciation for history matters to community leaders and others.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen, connecting cables for PowerPoint presentation
Travel: Regions 3, 5, 6,
When the President Visited Kentucky
Presidents of the United States have visited Kentucky about 120 times while serving as president. This presentation begins with details about the first visit by President James Monroe in 1819 since that visit was so different from today’s presidential visits. Information follows on historically significant visits in addition to visits by presidents to the area where the presentation takes place. Details of the visits include the reason for the visit, where he went, who he met, and who came to see him. There are many interesting stories. Of course, the political history of the time is described. Many photos were collected as part of the research, so photos will be provided in a PowerPoint presentation.
History of Bookmobile Service in Kentucky
Bookmobiles have been an important part of library service in Kentucky since World War II. In fact, Kentucky has had more bookmobiles than any other state for many years. This presentation covers the development of outreach services, from the pack horse librarians to the book wagons and the earliest bookmobiles. The presentation focuses on the bookmobile drive in 1954, when a statewide campaign raised funds for the purchase of 100 bookmobiles, books for the bookmobiles, and maintenance. This campaign was unique and gave Kentucky the nation’s largest fleet of bookmobiles.
Equipment needs: Computer and projector for PowerPoint
Echoes of the Hills: Kentucky’s Traditional Music
Kentucky has been justly celebrated for its contributions to country and bluegrass styles, but a diverse and vibrant range of earlier musical traditions made the hills and hollers echo with song and dance long before these popular styles came into being following World War II. Ron Pen will explore Kentucky’s musical past through a talk illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation. A live musical performance of ballads, old time fiddle and banjo dance tunes, dulcimer songs, and shape note hymnody will animate the history and context.
Sweet Strains of the Dulcimer
In 2001, the Kentucky Legislature recognized the Dulcimer as our Commonwealth’s state instrument. The dulcimer’s roots are firmly planted in the soil of east Kentucky with the earliest instruments crafted in 1838 by Ely Boggs and “Uncle” Ed Thomas in 1870. Dulcimers created by McKinley Craft, Will Singleton, and Jethro Amburgey spread throughout the country from Hindman. Performers including Jean Ritchie and John Jacob Niles popularized the instrument during the folk revival. This history will come alive through a talk illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation, enhanced with a live performance.
Equipment needs: Chair without arms, projector and speaker setup capable of PowerPoint projection with a laptop
Kentucky’s Private Civil War: The Politics of Allegiance in an Occupied State
In many parts of the nation, communities went to war. In Kentucky, the war came to communities. This presentation focuses on the aspects of the Civil War in Kentucky that are less well known, in which loyalty politics deeply affected the state during the war and for many years after. In the mesh of conflicting stances and allegiances across the middle border, the war hastened their realignments into newly fashioned “communities of allegiance,” aligned according to their war loyalties and comprised of discrete networks that competed for local legitimacy as the lines of military and governmental authority developed around them.
Southern Cross, North Star
More even than the Civil War, the “war after the war” shaped the understandings of the border among residents of this region: in the former slave states of Kentucky and Missouri and the former free states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Kansas. Based on his multiple prize-winning book The Rivers Ran Backwards, Phillips explains how, far from having a fixed boundary between the North and South, the Civil War and its aftermath in these border states experienced fierce internal conflicts over political and social loyalties that resulted in divided cultural identities that continue to define them — and us.
Equipment needs: Projector and laptop for PowerPoint
Travel: Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Writing Your Life Story
This presentation is designed to encourage all, even those who don’t consider themselves writers, to get family stories down on paper or digital record. As we grow older, we suddenly realize that we have become the historical sources and recorders. Recollections are valuable to those who haven’t had your experiences, and preserving them will store treasure to enjoy now and later. This presentation will suggest ways to elicit memories of who we are and what influenced us. Our heritage begs to be recorded as complementary to names, dates, and places. Mary Popham will explore adding family tales, customs, a memorable Christmas, your biggest regret, foods your family most loved — the stories that make up our lives.
Back Home in Landing Run
In March of 1910, beautiful 20-year-old Emmalene Hershall has married an elderly moonshiner who brings her from the Eastern Kentucky Mountains to Nelson County, an area of Catholics. Agreeing to keep house and care for his mentally retarded grandson, she is released from other marital obligations but must overcome the prejudiced community as she discovers new love.
Flower Power: Kentucky Pollinator Protection Plan
In response to federal initiatives, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture updated its Pollinator Protection Plan, which outlines multi-stakeholder efforts to increase habitat; promote communication with landowners, beekeepers, and applicators; and provide educational opportunities to all citizens. Although this presentation focuses on honey bees, it will also include other pollinators such as monarch butterflies and other types of bees. Apiculture is agriculture, and Kentucky’s shift to provide more habitat for pollinators of the Commonwealth is multi-faceted and involves everyone.
Kentucky Certified Honey Producer Program
Currently, the United States imports more than 350 million pounds of honey. Quite often, imported honey is adulterated with rice syrup, sorghum, and/or other foods. To combat this problem, the Kentucky State Beekeepers Association enacted a Kentucky Certified Honey Producer Program in 2019, to better educate consumers about honey produced in this state and the flowers that produce it. This presentation will discuss the benefits of honey as a food product and new efforts to educate consumers about honey, label laws, and this growing industry in Kentucky.
Equipment needs: Microphone, projector, computer
Lincoln’s Brown Water Navy
Did you know that ironclad warships fought on America’s western waters well before the “Monitor” and “Merrimack” (CSS Virginia) clashed at Hampton Roads? Lincoln’s Brown Water Navy takes the audience on a “not-often-told” journey on the Ohio, Mississippi, Cumberland, Tennessee, and other western rivers. Learn about the “Anaconda Plan,” Forts Henry and Donelson, Fort Columbus, Island No. 10, Plum Point, Memphis, Farragut’s daring run past forts on his way to New Orleans, the bloody sieges at Vicksburg and Port Hudson, and the disastrous Red River campaign — where the Union fleet was barely saved by a giant, winged dam. See the new “City Class” ironclads, “tinclads,” “timberclads,” and more. Ulysses S. Grant depended on these gunboats to coordinate amphibious assaults, guard his troopships and supplies, bombard fortifications and attack Confederate ships. This is a rich and vital part of Kentucky history not often taught in textbooks.
Equipment needs: Laptop and projector for PowerPoint
Kentucky After the War of 1812
This presentation looks at Kentucky’s rise to prominence in the five years after the War of 1812. With Henry Clay as Speaker of the House and an increasing presence on the national stage, Kentucky develops into one of the most influential states in the new Republic. Clay presses for his “American System” with a National Bank, protective tariffs, and a network of nationally funded roads and canals. Steamboat travel increases on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Learn about Kentucky in those “forgotten years” history books often bypass.
Equipment needs: Laptop and projector for PowerPoint
Think you have it hard? Imagine life without electricity, running water, gas heat, or air conditioning; a world without refrigeration, modern medicine, TV, motion pictures, automobiles, and computers. Using historic home utensils, furnishings and tools, Eddie Price takes you back to the Kentucky frontier to explain how pioneers made and maintained their homes. A slideshow illustrates just how hard pioneers had to work to do the simple, everyday things in life.
Equipment needs: Laptop and projector, table for tools and home implements
The Cane Ridge Revival: The Great Revival that Transformed Kentucky
When people talk about the "Bible Belt" they might be interested to learn that its roots began in the great Cane Ridge Revival, held in today's Bourbon County. No one can deny that it changed lives and shaped Kentucky's (and the Deep South's) social and cultural development. Take a journey back to 1801. Find out what drew 25,000 people to Cane Ridge. Sing one of the old hymns that some folks claimed to "make the flesh tremble."
The Battle of Blue Licks
By 1782 the American Revolution was drawing to a close. Lord Cornwallis had surrendered at Yorktown and negotiators were hammering out the Peace of Paris. But war still raged for frontier settlers, American Indians, and Canadian rangers. On August 19, 1782, Kentuckians would suffer one of the worst military defeats of the war. Learn about the events leading up to the battle that some historians call "The Last Battle of the American Revolution."
The Power of Place: A Prose Writing Workshop
A strong character and a plot with great motion are staples of prose writing, but another transformative composition tool sometimes slips under the radar: detailed attention to setting. In this workshop designed for writers of all abilities and experience levels, we’ll discuss the ways in which attention to place can elevate a text, then we’ll write, briefly revise, and share a place-based fiction or nonfiction microstory. After the workshop, Rexroat will read briefly from his new books, Thrift Store Coats and Pine Gap. Thrift Store Coats is a collection of 12 stories that transports readers to the post-industrial Midwest and asks them to explore the lives of those living on its quiet edge. Each story centers around people who live, work, hope, believe, struggle, and ultimately adapt or leave when the world decides it no longer needs them. Pine Gap, a novel set in southeastern Kentucky, traces the lives of four members of a family whose paths in life feel predetermined and mundane until a tragedy forces them to re-think where they’ve been and where they must go.
Unlikely Twins: On Appalachia and Siberia
Early in writer and professor Brooks Rexroat’s 2016-2017 Fulbright Scholarship to the Russian Federation, he had inklings of familiarity: in community, economy, lifestyle, and faith, the center of Siberia felt strangely like home to the writer, who grew up and has spent most of his life on the vertex of Appalachia and the Rust Belt. During this presentation, Rexroat examines the uncanny similarities between the heartlands of two global powers, breaks down the stereotypes that bind these vibrant regions, and examines how we might use our own experiences to more carefully think about our global companions.
Equipment needs: Microphone if room requires; participants should bring writing materials
Mose Rager: Kentucky’s Shy Guitar Master
There are many country guitar legends — Chet Atkins, Merle Travis, and Eddie Pennington, to name a few — who trace the root of their music to Mose Rager. A Muhlenberg County, Kentucky native, he was known for developing a unique thumb-picking style. Mose worked as a barber and a coal miner when he wasn’t playing gigs with Grandpa Jones, Curly Fox and Texas Ruby. Although Mose died on May 14, 1986, his sound lives on when modern-day pickers try to play “That Muhlenberg Sound.”
Equipment needs: Projector, microphone
The Great Commitments of Berea College
This presentation covers the history of a unique institution, Berea College. Founded in 1855, it was the first interracial and coeducational college in the South, and continues its mission today, of providing a high quality educational experience to students not able to afford to attend college. Berea does not charge tuition, and all students work for the school as part of their educational experience. Dr. Roelofs will discuss the history of the college’s eight Great Commitments, the signature features of this school, which have always guided its mission.
Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen for PowerPoint
Playing God: Hard Choices, TMI, and Medical Ethics
Everyday new technologies and age-old quandaries force us to make nearly impossible choices in the area of healthcare. This interactive presentation will discuss ways that philosophers and thinkers from the past can help guide us through some of the most difficult situations we will find ourselves in.
The Best of Each: Positive Overview of World Religions
In our diverse world, we encounter people of other faiths or see things in the media that leave us with questions. Often, we want to know more and don’t know who to ask. This lively and fast-paced presentation will give the highlights of the best that each of the major living world religions has to offer. There will be lots of time for questions.
Equipment needs: Projector
Dorothy Dix: Sob Sister, 13th Juror, Investigator
Early 20th century reporter Dorothy Dix is remembered best for her personal advice column, “Dorothy Dix Talks,” and is regarded as the predecessor to the columns of Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren. But she earned her national reputation as a “sob sister” during the 15 years she worked for William Randolph Hearst’s New York Journal as its leading crime reporter, concentrating mostly on murders and trials. Moreover, Dix was the “thirteenth juror” because she covered the trials involving women during an era when women were not allowed to serve on juries. Other times, she was the interviewer, or investigator, who talked to suspects that wouldn’t speak to the district attorney, or she was the detective in search of witnesses who could not be located by authorities. This talk by longtime Kentucky journalist Melony Shemberger profiles a southern woman who has not been recognized fully among the region’s history of writers.
The Bookmobile: An American Icon
In the late 1930s in east Kentucky, the Works Progress Association helped to fund the Pack Horse Library Project, which employed women to deliver books and other reading material to remote mountain schools and residences. This effort helped launch a greater interest in the concept of bookmobiles, one of the social changes that brought benefits of townspeople to rural folks. Melony Shemberger discusses how the early popularity of the bookmobile transformed the service into an icon of American culture.
Equipment needs: Projector, screen
“The Truth Is Out There”: UFOs, Monsters, and Cryptids in Kentucky Lore
Kentucky is home to some famous UFO cases and cryptid reports: The Thomas Mantel UFO Incident made national headlines in 1948. Kentuckians have also reported numerous encounters with Bigfoot, the Pope Lick Monster, wolf-human creatures, and even a serpent in Herrington Lake. What are these eye-witnesses seeing? Why do these stories fascinate us? Mason Smith grew up in Muhlenberg County hearing stories about the Bell Witch, a wolf-man lurking in the Land Between the Lakes, and the Bremen Bog Monster. Dr. Smith’s presentation will cover a variety of things cryptid, and while he is not a fanatical skeptic, he suggests that many of these stories have their origins in the realm of psychology and folklore.
The Who-Dun-It Caper
Since the days of Edgar Allan Poe, the detective story has remained one of the most popular genres of literature. Sherlock Holmes may be the best recognized character in English Lit, and the stories featuring American hard-boiled detectives — Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, or Nero Wolfe — have been in print for nearly a century. What is it about a detective story that keeps readers engaged? Raymond Chandler, author of the Philip Marlowe series, believed it was the detective himself (or herself) who was the key. This presentation will test that idea. In this interactive presentation, Dr. Smith will briefly discuss the history of the detective story, with a special focus on American detectives, and will ask participants to help him construct a biography for an original fictional character: the 21st century detective.
Equipment needs: Projector
Travel: Region 6
Humor in Fiction — It’s No Joke!
Regardless of genre, the effective use of humor will engage your readers and keep them turning pages. But there’s more to writing humor than telling jokes. Learn how to infuse your story with humor. We’ll talk about the anatomy of a joke, humor devices, effective humor in specific fiction elements, and we’ll identify a couple of common landmines to avoid. Come prepared to laugh and learn!
Equipment needs: Microphone, podium, PC projector
Myth Busters — What I’ve Learned as a Career Writer
Many people dream of publishing a book, but have unrealistic expectations of what happens after the book contract is signed. In this informative and engaging talk, Virginia Smith, bestselling author of nearly 40 novels and many shorter works, describes what really happens in the publishing industry.
Equipment needs: Microphone, podium
Even Coverlets Get the Blues
Kentuckians have practiced the art of hand weaving for more than 200 years. The techniques weavers used ranged from overshot, double weave, and tied Beiderwand to latch hook rug making and weaving on a hand loom. Often anonymous, these weavers included individuals who wove for domestic use, professionals who earned their livelihoods by weaving, and skilled enthusiasts who strove to keep craft traditions alive in the 20th and 21st centuries. This presentation will touch upon the general revival of interest in the craft of weaving in the early 20th century, the role individuals such as Lou Tate of the Little Loom House in Louisville and author Eliza Calvert Hall of Bowling Green played in preserving and promoting these traditions, and the importance that institutions and businesses such as Berea College’s Fireside Industries and Churchill Weavers had on weaving in America. Although weaving was often done for utilitarian purposes, historic and modern weaving alike illustrates aesthetic decisions regarding design and color choices that were and are part of the weaving process. Today’s weavers and fiber artists value the craft as much, if not more, for its artistic possibilities than for its utilitarian purposes. The weaving examples and illustrations used to illustrate this presentation are drawn primarily from museums and special collections libraries around Kentucky.
Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, screen, podium, microphone
Elkhorn: A Journey in Time
The main stem of Elkhorn Creek, the second largest tributary of the Kentucky River, encapsulates the history of central Kentucky from pre-settlement, the frontier era, through the industrial era to the present where the creek is used primarily for recreational purposes. The landscape has been transformed and in some ways its environment degraded by human presence, yet retains an allure for those who love nature and want to immerse in a semi-wild place fishing, kayaking, or simply hiking portions of its length.
The Landscape of Current Kentucky Poetry
This journey into literature covers the range and diversity of current poetry in Kentucky, including such writers as Wendell Berry, Mary Ann Taylor-Hall, George Ella Lyon, and many others. There will be a discussion of what characterizes poetry written in Kentucky and the sources of inspiration that give it a distinct flavor. There will be some discussion of the creative process, even a workshop for those interested in testing their creativity.
Travel: Region 3
Underground Railroad and American Memory
This presentation will provide a review of the Underground Railroad as the product of the work of black and white southerners committed to an evangelical cause of freedom.
African Americans in the Civil War
In this presentation, Dr. Turley offers a focus on the role of black Kentuckians in the war of emancipation and freedom that changed the social direction of American society.
Equipment needs: Laptop, projector, and screen for PowerPoint
World War II was on the Air
Did you know World War II was the first time Americans could hear news reports from the battlefields while the battles were still being fought? Radio made it possible. World War II was the first major war to occur after radio was developed. And, because World War II news was “on the air,” it reached audiences around the world faster and more dramatically than news of any previous war. It changed how news was reported, influenced how war was waged, and laid the foundation for today’s 24/7 news coverage. This presentation will include audio clips of World War II news reports by legendary broadcasters such as Edward R. Murrow, Harry Reasoner, Charles Collingwood, George Hicks, and others.
Equipment needs: Sound system that will accept audio input from a laptop, audio cassette player, or CD player
Music and Musicians in the American Civil War
This presentation is interspersed with Civil War era tunes performed by a small ensemble of musicians playing lap dulcimers, banjos, and other instruments. It focuses on the assertion of some music historians that the Civil War was “America’s most musical war” and perhaps “the most musical war ever, anywhere.” More than 2,000 new musical compositions were published in the first year of the war. Some 80,000 men served as musicians in the Union and Confederate armies. And, many of the Civil War’s favorite tunes are still popular today.
Equipment needs: Sound system with multiple microphones is helpful but not required
Who is a Kentuckian? Identity and the Immigration Debate
The Wilsons will use concepts and examples from their book, Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky: Migration, Identity, and Transnationality, co-authored with Francis Musoni and lddah Otieno, to inspire a discussion about the important and timely issue of immigration. Stories and quotations from oral history interviews conducted with nearly 50 African immigrants in Kentucky will introduce first generation immigrants’ connections and contributions to both Kentucky and the United States and to African countries of origin, as well as their views about identity. Must one be born in the Commonwealth to be considered a Kentuckian? How important is assimilation and what does it mean? What is transnationality? How can individuals consider both “here” and “there” part of their identity? Can immigrants be included in what Kentucky author bell hooks writes about in Belonging: a culture of place?
Struggles and Successes of African Immigrants in Kentucky
Using examples from their book Voices of African Immigrants in Kentucky: Migration, Identity and Transnationality, co-authored with Francis Musoni and lddah Otieno and published by University Press of Kentucky in 2019, the Wilsons will talk about the lives of African immigrants as described to them in interviews that are housed in the African Immigrants in the Bluegrass Oral History Project at University of Kentucky’s Nunn Oral History Center. The immigrants interviewed include individuals from 26 countries such as university professors originally from Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, and Sierra Leone who have now been in the U.S. for decades, more recently arrived immigrants who came on diversity visas from Algeria and Ivory Coast, and refugees coming from war in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Liberia.
Voices from Home: A Reading of Kentucky Poets
In this presentation Worley will read poems from modern and contemporary poets from the state and will provide historical and personal background on those writers. The starting point for the reading will be the anthology What Comes Down to Us: 25 Contemporary Kentucky Poets. Among the poets included are Wendell Berry, Kathleen Driskell, Jane Gentry, James Baker Hall, George Ella Lyon, Maurice Manning, Richard Taylor, and Frank X Walker. These poets have had an active literary presence in the state for decades; several have served as Kentucky Poet Laureate. Worley will also feature the work of younger Kentucky poets who have gained recognition and acclaim for their work.
A Poetry Presentation by Jeff Worley
Worley will read from his books, which have won national, regional, and state prizes. Part of this presentation includes a discussion of how poems get written, the poetic process — a discussion focused not only on Worley’s own poems but also the work of other poets. Where do poems come from? How is a writer inspired to write his or her poems? What literary influences come into play in the writing of poems? How real is “writer’s block?” What techniques can overcome it? This part of the program will be interactive, involving the writing experiences of those attending the reading.
Equipment needs: Microphone (unless it is a small group)
Story Gardening for Children
Your mind is like a plot of land. When you plant idea seeds and patiently tend them, you can create your own stories. No one else has a piece of earth like yours. What will you grow there? In this interactive, student-focused presentation, award-winning author Jessica Young discusses the writing process from start to finish, including collecting and planting ideas, cultivating a unique voice, using writing tools (literary devices) and st