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K-State Today

April 5, 2016

Scholar Francesca Royster, historian Ronald Parks present at 25th annual Cultural Studies Symposium

Submitted by Karin Westman

25th Annual Cultural Studies Symposium

Historian Ronald Parks and scholar and K-State alumna Francesca Royster will present as part of the English department's 25th annual Cultural Studies Symposium on Thursday, April 7 and Friday, April 8. 

Parks will present a public talk on "To Know the Place for the First Time: Reclaiming My Kansas Homeland through Story," at 4 p.m. Thursday, April 7, in Hale Library's Hemisphere Room.

A fifth-generation Kansan who grew up in Minneapolis and now lives in Manhattan, Parks served for 20 years as the director of the Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Council Grove. Parks is author of "The Darkest Period: The Kanza Indians and Their Last Homeland, 1846-1873," winner of the 2014 Prairie Heritage Book Award. He is also the author of a pageant about the Kaw, "Voices of the Wind People." "The Darkest Period" focuses on the tribe's removal to a reservation of roughly a quarter million acres crossed by the Santa Fe Trail at Council Grove and subsequent forced relocation to another reserve before their final removal to Indian Territory.

Steffi Dippold, assistant professor of English and early American literatures, is looking forward to hearing Parks share important history connected to Kansas.

"Challenging us to confront our messy local legacies, Ronald Parks' book recounts the last stand of the Kaw or Kanza nation, namesakes of our state, in their increasingly encroached Kansas reservation and before their final removal to Oklahoma. Parks gives agency to place and indigenous readings of Kansas landmarks and landscapes in his story of this border tribe's encounters with 'powerful and mostly corrosive Euro-American forces,'" said Dippold.

Francesca Royster, professor and chair of English at DePaul University, will present a lecture on "Uneasy Listening: 'Country' Music and Black Queer Longing" at 4 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the K-State Student Union's Little Theatre.

Royster graduated from K-State with a bachelor's degree in English in 1988, earning her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley in 1995. At DePaul University, Royster teaches courses on popular culture, gender and queer theory, African American literature, Shakespeare and early modern literature. She is the author of "Sounding Like a No-No: Queer Sounds and Eccentric Acts in the Post-Soul Era," University of Michigan Press, 2013, which received honorable mention for the Modern Language Association of America's William Sanders Scarborough Prize for an Outstanding Scholarly Study of African American Literature and Culture.

Cameron Leader-Picone, assistant professor of English and African American literature and culture, values the insights that Royster brings to popular cultural images and music.

"Dr. Royster's work offers provocative and complex readings of figures that many of us think we know, like Michael Jackson, Prince, and even Kansas' own Janelle Monae. Her great book, 'Sounding Like a No-No' pushes all of us working on contemporary black popular culture to take into account the eccentricity of so much of that culture by incorporating analysis of gender and sexuality," Leader-Picone said.

In addition to the talks by Parks and Royster, Royster and other alumni from the department's Graduate Track in Cultural Studies will share their professional experiences following graduation with the master's in literature and cultural studies. They will participate in a roundtable brown bag lunch panel from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, April 8, in the Tadtman Boardroom at the K-State Alumni Center. Coffee and cookies will be provided.

The following alumni will join Royster for the roundtable panel:

Dory Nason, M.A. 2000, doctorate, University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of English and first nations & indigenous studies at the University of British Columbia. She co-edited the volume "Tekahionwake: E. Pauline Johnson's Writings on Native America" (Broadview Press, 2016) and is currently at work on her book manuscript, "Red Feminist Voices: Native Women's Activist Literature."

Mathias Nilges, M.A. 2003, doctorate, University of Illinois at Chicago, associate professor of English at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, Canada. His essays have appeared in collected editions and journals such as American Literary History, Callaloo, and Textual Practice. He has co-edited the following collections of essays: "Literary Materialisms" (2013), "Marxism and the Critique of Value" (2014), and "The Contemporaneity of Modernism" (2016).

Josh Abrams, M.A. 2011, an academic advisor in the College of Engineering and Information Technology at University of Maryland Baltimore County. He advises approximately 350 students who are studying engineering and computer science. In addition to other teaching and advising roles, he also oversees the college's merit scholarship program.

Events connected to the 25th annual Cultural Studies Symposium are sponsored by the English department. They are free and open to the public.

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