Call for Symposium Presentations: Johnny Cash Heritage Festival

johnnycash_dyess_logo_finalA call for presentations for a public symposium in conjunction with the inaugural Johnny Cash Heritage Festival has been issued by Arkansas State University. The symposium, “Johnny Cash Heritage Festival: Arts and Artistry from the New Deal and Beyond,” will be held in Dyess, Ark., Thursday through Saturday, Oct. 19-21.

The event is co-sponsored by the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home and the A-State Heritage Studies Ph.D. Program.

“I’m excited to coordinate the symposium,” said Dr. Gregory Hansen, professor of folklore and English at A-State. “Not only will it support public programming at our Dyess heritage site, but it will create invaluable opportunities for students and faculty affiliated with A-State’s Heritage Studies Doctoral Program.”

Symposium organizers seek proposals that address how the New Deal era resettlement colony influenced the life and music of Johnny Cash. Many of his songs are stories of actual experiences in Dyess, while others reflect values shaped in Dyess. Though the focus is on his early life, all Johnny Cash-related topics will be considered.

Additionally, presentations that provide insight into the New Deal heritage that shaped the life of Johnny Cash and those around him are welcome. Cash’s childhood spent in one of the New Deal’s greatest social and economic experiments placed him squarely in the center of New Deal cultural programs focused on common men and women.

Organizers particularly are interested in presentations that break away from the standard format of reading research papers. Research and artistic presentations that incorporate music, images, film, computer graphics, and other interactive elements will be given first preference. The scholarly content also should be presented in ways that appeal to more generalized audiences and non-specialists in particular disciplines.

A new chapter was announced in May with the Johnny Cash Heritage Festival. The new event that combines educational activities in Dyess, as well as entertainment and special events, continues the legacy of the earlier concert series held in Jonesboro.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins, director of the Arkansas State University Heritage Sites program, noted the event would become a true festival by extending to a three-day event that includes both educational and entertainment components.

“The symposium’s location in Cash’s hometown of Dyess is a rare opportunity for participants to embrace the environment in which Cash grew up,” Hawkins said.

Presentation entries must include presenter’s name and affiliation and a 150-word abstract of the presentation as well as a current vita (two pages maximum). Include address, phone number, email address and the technical needs for the presentation.

Click here to download a copy of the Call for Presentations.  For further information, contact Hansen at or visit Deadline for entries is June 16, 2017.