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Stephen A. King to Deliver Keynote for Delta Symposium XXII


JONESBORO – Blues scholar, rhetorician and author Stephen A. King will deliver the keynote address for this year’s Delta Symposium at Arkansas State University on Friday, April 15, at 11:30 a.m. in the Mockingbird Room of the Reng Student Union.

His work on blues heritage and tourism sites in Mississippi coincides with the theme of this spring's Delta Symposium XXII, "Representing Cultural Heritage."  As with all symposium events, King’s presentation is free and open to the public.

King, professor and chair of communication studies at Eastern Illinois University, earned his Ph.D. in speech communication at Indiana University and taught at Delta State University in Cleveland, Miss., for nearly 20 years.  His research combines rhetoric, intercultural communication and popular culture. Over the last 15 years, he has focused primarily on examining how Mississippi promotes the blues as part of its cultural heritage.

He is the author of "I’m Feeling the Blues Right Now: Blues Tourism and the Mississippi Delta," 2011, and "Reggae, Rastafari and the Rhetoric of Social Control."  King’s work has been published in a variety of peer-reviewed journals, as well as edited books.

Focusing on the music of social protest, King has published and presented work on performers from the legendary to the lesser known, from reggae great Bob Marley to country artist Jamey Johnson. His scholarship often engages with resistant voices in musical genres ranging from rock to reggae to pop to country, as well in the songs of the civil rights and Black Power movements. His work on the blues in particular has examined the intersections of race, tourism, economics and heritage in Mississippi, untangling the history and celebration of the music from the monetary interests that often control its presentation in contemporary heritage sites. Likewise, he has looked at the evolution of reggae music from its radical roots in the 1970s to its contemporary use in mainstream tourism marketing campaigns.

In addition to his scholarship and presentations, King is a member of the National Communication Association (NCA) and the Association for Communication Administration (ACA). He has won the Chair Leadership Award at Eastern Illinois University; been a William Winter Scholar (awarded to outstanding Humanities faculty in Mississippi); won a Mississippi Humanities Council Teaching Award; and received accolades for the Top Faculty Paper (with Dr. Roger Gatchet) in the African American Communication and Culture Division at the 2015 NCA conference. He serves on the editorial board of Rock Music Studies and writes music reviews for Living Blues magazine.

Kings books as well as those by other featured guests participating in the Delta Symposium will be available.  The symposium dates are April 13-16.  A complete schedule is available on the symposium website, http://altweb.astate.edu/blues/.

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Stephen A. King