FORT SMITH — Southern history is a hot topic this year, the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. So grab the closest history buff and treat him Tuesday (July 17) to a reading of W. Stuart Towns’ latest release, Enduring Legacy: Rhetoric and Ritual of the Lost Cause, published by the University of Alabama Press.
Towns, a specialist in Southern history, Southern oratory and public communication, is hosted by the Fort Smith Museum of History. The reading will be at 4 p.m. with a book signing from 5-7 p.m. We’re told copies of Enduring Legacy will be available for purchase in the museum store.
Beside experience (Towns has published three previous works), he has the cred. He retired as professor and chairman of the Department of Communication Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. Before that, he was professor and chairman of Department of Communication at Appalachian State University and the University of West Florida.
His other books are We want our Freedom: Rhetoric of the Civil Rights Movement; Public Address in the Twentieth-Century South: The Evolution of a Region; and Oratory and Rhetoric in the Nineteenth-Century South: A Rhetoric of Defense.
This most recent tome analyses how rituals such as Confederate Memorial Day, Confederate veteran reunions, and dedication of Confederate monuments have contributed to creating and sustaining a Lost Cause paradigm for Southern identity. Towns studies in detail secessionist and Civil War speeches and how they laid the groundwork for future generations, including Southern responses to the civil rights movement.
Watch for Ruby Dean's coverage of Towns' reading and book signing in The City Wire.
Networking: Business after hours
VAN BUREN — The city’s chamber of commerce is hosting its monthly “Business After Hours,” beginning at 5:15 p.m. (and not a minute earlier) at Summit Medical Center, East Main and 20th Street.
The event, a luau, will give Summit a chance to show off its new cafeteria and outside patio. Don’t forget a stack of business cards, especially if you’re a newer chamber member and would like to get to know more people.
Reading: A sing-along slumber party
MULBERRY — Award-winning children’s songwriter Monty Harper will perform at facilities within the Crawford County Library System on Thursday and Friday for families and daycare groups with children ages 4-12.
Harper’s songs tell stories, celebrate reading and evoke nighttime adventures so kids are encouraged to wear their pajamas and bring their “softies” — blankets, teddy bears and such. His program is an interactive sing-a-long concert lasting about 45 minutes.
This summer marks Harper’s 22nd of performing in libraries, which means by now, he’s learned how to keep his performances to a length noise level that won’t disturb other library patrons.
He really does it because he believes it’s important for children to love reading.
“I try to convey my own exuberance for books and libraries through my songs,” he says. This summer, he’ll hit more than two dozen libraries in Oklahoma and Arkansas. His real job is as an informal science educator and host of a monthly science program for third through seventh graders in his native Stillwater, Okla.
Harper will be at the Mulberry Library at 10 a.m., at the Alma Library at 1 p.m. and the Mountainburg Library at 3:30 p.m. Thursday. He’ll be at the Van Buren Library at 10 a.m. and at the Cedarville Library at 1 p.m. Friday. It’s all free — air conditioning included.
History: Building the courthouse
FORT SMITH — Sebastian County Circuit Judge Jim Spears will deliver one of the more interesting “Clayton Conversations” about the 1887 Sebastian County Courthouse, beginning at 2 p.m. at Clayton House, 514 N. Sixth St.
The city became one of two county seats in 1861. Spears will colorfully detail the social, civic and political setting of the time. After an ornate clock tower became shaky, the structure ultimately was removed to make way for the current courthouse between Sixth and Seventh streets and Rogers and Garrison avenues.
It’s free, but seating is limited, so you’d be wise to make a reservation by calling or (479) 783-3000 or click here.