October 18, 1999
Volume 52, No. 8
Emory hosts inaugural conference on Southern religion
President Jimmy Carter and former United Nations Ambassador Andrew Young join scholars, religious leaders and the public for face-to-face and online discussions on "Religion and the American South: Toward a Renewed Scholarship," Oct. 21-23 at Emory.
Designed to be an unconventional and eclectic meeting, the conference will address three major themes: new research on religion and the South, use of electronic media in the study of religion, and new teaching strategies. Meeting rooms will be set up seminar-style to allow for maximum discussion among panelists and participants.
Carter will open the event Thursday, Oct. 21, with a public address titled "Reflections of a Southern Christian Layman" at 3:30 p.m. in Glenn Auditorium. Young's talk on civil rights in the South, open only to registered conference attendees, is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Oct. 23.
Both lectures will be web- cast live from the site of the Journal of Southern Religion at <http://jsr.as.wvu.edu>. In fact, the conference is the brainchild of JSR editors, according to its director, religion Professor Gary Laderman.
"The origin of the idea was just a small gathering, and maybe a year-and-a-half ago I got involved with the journal and with the planning of the conference," Laderman said. "At that point, it began to coalesce as an Emory function, and we decided to make the conference a little bigger, and we got a couple grants, and then we got Jimmy Carter and Andrew Young on the schedule, and from there it just kind of snowballed."
A new exhibit titled "Beyond the Bible Belt" will open Oct. 21 in conjunction with the conference in Woodruff Library's Special Collections. The exhibit runs through Jan. 10, and certain items are available for viewing online at: <http://info.library.emory.edu/Special/exhibits/ religion-in-south/>.
"There will be a range of materials and items that relate to religious communities and religious experiences outside of the 'white male' evangelical experiences that are often associated with the Bible Belt," Laderman said, crediting Special Collections' Randall Burkett with being a driving force behind the exhibit. "There are Native American documents, African American women materials, some Jewish materials--it will encompass a range of different religious expressions and experiences."
Laderman said the journal hopes to make this conference an annual event. Registration information--the conference cost is $75, $30 for students--is available on the Journal of Southern Religion website.
-Elaine Justice and Michael Terrazas