21st Cotton & Rural History Conference
Saturday, April 22, 2017
9:30 AM-1:30 PM
Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum, Greenville, Texas

Call (903) 454-1990 by April 19 to reserve a seat. Registration is $12 and includes a barbecue lunch.


Andrew Torget

"Cotton, Slavery, and Early Texas:
How Mexico's Far North Became
the American Southwest" 

Andrew Torget, historian and professor at the University of North Texas, will give a lecture based on his new book, Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas BorderlandsSeeds of Empire tells the remarkable story of how the cotton revolution of the early nineteenth century transformed northeastern Mexico into the western edge of the United States, and how the rise and spectacular collapse of the Republic of Texas as a nation built on cotton and slavery proved to be a blueprint for the Confederacy of the 1860s.

This work has already won "best book" awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, theTexas State Historical Association, the East Texas Historical Association, the Western Historical Association, American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies, Brazoria County Historical Museum, San Antonio Conservation Society Foundation and the Sons of the Republic of Texas along with other commendations from the Organization of American Historians and the University of Alabama’s Summersell Center for the Study of the South.

Critics have been equally generous with their praise, concluding that Seeds of Empire signals the arrival of an important new book on Texas and Southwestern history.

Registration begins at 9:00 with Dr. James Conrad presenting the "Eyewitness Oral History" panel at 10:00 AM. At 11:00 AM a second panel featuring an historian and a poet will explore rural Texas culture and history from their particular vantage points.

"Chopping Cotton: A Reading and Discussion"

R. Scott Yarbrough will give a reading and discuss the relationship between his poetry and the West Texas cotton culture he grew up in. Yarbrough has published poetry, short fiction, and drama in the United States and Canada in over fifty national literary journals. His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Hollin’s Critic, Puerto Del Sol, Descant, The Nassau Review, and recent publications include works in The Evansville Review, Bluestem/Karamu, and The Concho River Review, Verse Wisconsin, and Fox Chase Review. Yarbrough is an honored Texas Piper Professor of Literature and Editor of Forces Literary Journal of Arts and Literature; his poetry has recently been nominated for a PushCart Prize. His full-length collection A Sort of Adam Infant Dropped: True Myths is currently available in bookstores with/through Ink Brush Press.

"East Texas History"

Jeffrey L. Littlejohn will introduce the audience to "East Texas History," a web-based project that explores the rural places and history of East Texas. Littlejohn is associate professor and director of graduate studies in history at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). His first book -- Elusive Equality: Desegregation and Resegregation in Norfolk's Public Schools -- was published by the University of Virginia Press in 2012. He has also published numerous articles or chapters in Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, American Journalism, Protest and Propaganda: W.E.B. Du Bois, The Crisis, and American History, and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography.

Littlejohn also enjoys collaborating on projects with the graduate students at Sam Houston State University. In 2015, he worked with Charles H. Ford and twelve students to publish “The Enemy Within Never Did Without”: German and Japanese Prisoners of War at Camp Huntsville, Texas, 1942-1945. He has also teamed up with students to develop numerous digital projects, including East Texas History, HistoricalMX, and the Living History Podcast.

Currently, Dr. Littlejohn is co-editing a book entitled "The Seedtime, the Work, and the Harvest”: New Perspectives on the Black Freedom Struggle in America, and he hopes to complete his biographical study of Congressman John Dowdy in the next 24 months

Following a barbecue lunch at noon, the 2017 keynote talk will be presented by Andrew Torget.

The conference is co-sponsored by Collin College and the Audie Murphy American Cotton Museum.

Advance reservations may be made by contacting the Audie Murphy/American Cotton Museum, 600 Interstate 30 East, Greenville, Texas 75403. The museum can be reached by telephone at (903) 454-1990 or (903) 450-4502. Please call by April 19. There is a $12 registration fee to cover the barbecue lunch.               

Past Cotton and Rural History Conferences

For nineteen years this gathering has benefited from the generosity of notable and award-winning scholars who have presented their work in the fields of history, folklore, and the oral narrative.  They have included J. Brett Adams, Jacques D. Bagur, Bruce Baker, Sven Beckert, Amanda B. Biles, D. Clayton Brown, Walter Buenger, the late Robert A. Calvert, Jr., Randolph B. "Mike" Campbell, Adrienne Caughfield, James H. Conrad, Edward Countryman, Light T. Cummins, Pamela Gaiter, Karen Gerhardt, James C. Giesen, Chris Grooms, Eric Gruver, John Hanners, Paul Harvey, Jr., John Jackson, Melissa Johnson, Deborah Kilgore, Susan Lanning, Gwendolyn Lawe, Deborah Liles, John Lundberg, Michelle Mears, Kay Mizell, Lois E. Myers, Nick Nelson, Kristopher Paschal, Deborah Porter, Jeri Reed, Debra Reid, Rebecca Sharpless, Cameron Sinclair, Thad Sitton, the late James M. Smallwood, Paul E. Sturdevant, Susanne Summers, Carol Taylor, Andres Tijerina, Stephen A. Townsend, Sam Tullock, Leland Turner, Keith Volanto, Jeannie Whayne, Patricia Wingate, Lee Winniford, Dan K. Utley and Nancy Beck Young.    

Presenters have represented colleges, universities, libraries and museums from across Texas and the nation including Austin College, the University of Arkansas, Baylor University, Burton Cotton Gin Museum, Collin College, the University of Central Oklahoma, Eastern Illinois University, Harvard University, Hill College, the Heritage Farmstead Museum, the University of Houston, the University of Illinois-Chicago, A. C. McMillan African-American Museum, Mississippi State University, University of Newcastle (UK), New Mexico Junior College, the University of North Texas, Oklahoma State University, Paris Junior College, Sam Houston State University, St. Edward's University, Southern Methodist University, Texas A&M University - College Station, Texas A&M University - Commerce, Texas A&M University Kingsville, Texas Christian University, Texas Woman's University and the Weslaco Bi-Cultural Museum.

Kyle Wilkison and James H. Conrad co-chair the annual event and welcome paper proposals from historians working in the fields of rural, social or agricultural history.  Please submit proposals via email to each address listed below:   

James H. Conrad, Ph.D.
Dr. Conrad is the retired University Archivist and Director of the Oral History Program at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

He can be reached at: jimhconrad@gmail.com

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Kyle Wilkison, Ph.D.
Professor of History
Department of History
Collin College
Plano, Texas 75074
(972) 881-5834
FAX: (972) 881-5700

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