The Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word is among the oldest literary festivals in the country, annually welcoming approximately 250 authors and 25,000 visitors each October. The Festival is free, and includes three performance stages and more than 60 publishers and booksellers.
Each author on the program offers a solo reading/talk or takes part in a panel discussion, followed by book signing. Parnassus Books of Nashville is our onsite bookseller. Recent participants include: Geraldine Brooks, Pat Conroy, Kevin Henkes, Greg Iles, Emily St. John Mandel, Ayanna Mathis, Ann Patchett, and Paul Theroux, among many others. Festival information is available on the website at: humanitiestennessee.org, on iphone or android apps at: sofestofbooks, on Facebook as Southern Festival of Books, and on Twitter and Instagram as: sofestofbooks.
The Festival strives to:
1. Bring together more than 250 authors, other literary talent, and scholars from across the state of Tennessee and country to introduce and share their works with some 25,000 Tennesseans each year. Authors represent diverse genres, and the goal is to have anyone be able to come to this free event and discover an old favorite or find a new one.
2. Reach out to and engage new and broader audiences in Tennessee in humanities programming.
Humanities Tennessee has the following goals for the Festival:
Engage Tennesseans in meaningful programming and discussions that promote civil discourse in a supportive and open environment.
HT works to promote a joy of reading and writing as well as an appreciation for the art that each author, illustrator or other literary artist delivers.
Humanities Tennessee uses visitor comment boxes, online comment options, and surveys distributed to attendees and participating authors, vendors, etc. to gauge its impact with the Festival on the variety of audiences that are reached.
Artists share their applause for the Festival. Testimonials from authors include:
From Ta-Nehisi Coates:
"I am from New York. No one applauds authors in New York. I can't think of another time when I saw the work of writing more appreciated than at this festival."
From Jess Walter:
"As I say, wonderful location, friendly staff, a tremendous dinner the night before--well-planned, well-organized and well-attended, it ranks among my favorite book festivals ever."
From Geraldine Brooks:
Friendly, obviously embraced by the community, and Nashville such a great city--invite me again, please!
YWP comprises 2 residential writing workshops for students taught by a faculty of published authors, and include evening activities with writers and musicians: Appalachian Young Writers' Workshop (AYWW) for grades 7-12 at Lincoln Memorial U. and TN Young Writers' Workshop (TYWW) for grades 8–12 at Cumberland U. Students present their works at the Southern Festival of Books and HT publishes an anthology.
The Letters about Literature national contest encourages students in grades 4–12 to think critically. About 1,500 students read an author's book and write reflectively a letter to the author. Top winners are judged nationally--TN had 3 national winners, and numerous honorable mentions.
Long-term success is defined by youth growing in appreciation for and understanding of the humanities, specifically reading and writing, and its role in their lives. For the workshops, students leave having developed year-round educational and general development support systems, established between student-writers, authors, college professors, and HT staff.
Students report that the workshops are life-changing and often inspire them to pursue a career or push their talent-development further in writing. These students often come to the workshop shy and nervous to share their talent and end with a confident stage performance or recital to an audience of peers, professionals, and others who are interested in seeing them succeed.
All youth literary programming supports the development of reading and writing among youth and exposes them to resources to continued personal development.
HT uses surveys and comments sheets to collect feedback from participants in programming. These comments are reviewed by HT staff and program changes are made as necessary.
Comments from past participants in youth programs include:
The Partnership for Public Humanities provides support to nonprofits to plan and implement public humanities projects. Organizations might use the PPH to grow programmatically, leading to new ideas and more knowledgeable, reflective audiences. The PPH program plan allows the members of a nonprofit to focus collectively on a set of program goals and implement events one by one, with access to necessary resources.
Recent examples of recent programs supported by the PPH include:
The Nashville women's history Bootcamp at Oz Arts on April 28, 2016. Part of the March to the 19th initiative commemorating the amendment granting women the right to vote. March to the 19th Bootcamps--a statewide series of professional development and women's history workshops--kicked off in Nashville April 28. Three additional Bootcamps were scheduled throughout the year in other cities.
The Tom & OE Stigall Museum in Humboldt hosted author John F. Baker, Jr., for a lecture in conjunction with "Slaves & Slaveholders of Wessyngton Plantation," which was on view at the museum. Baker authored a book on the subject of his ancestors, who were slaves at Wessyngton in Robertson County, Tennessee.
This program includes small grants for general, community-generated humanities projects which are awarded annually in the summer, the Awards of Recognition for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities, and the Scholarship for TN Assoc. of Museums Conference (TAM). The small grant competition supports ambitious public humanities projects of accomplished, professional organizations. The awards program is an annually acknowledges excellence in grades 3–12 humanities education with fellowships recipients and their schools. Scholarships for TAM are available to volunteers of small or emerging organizations without paid professional staff. In 13 years, 251 people from 104 TN organizations have attended on this scholarship.
2015 Teaching Awards went to: Mike Andrews, Art, Montgomery Central High School, Clarksville; Marisa Dore, 8th grade U.S. History, Charlotte Middle School, Charlotte; Matt Marlatt, English, Stewart’s Creek High School, Smyrna; Linda Moss Mines, History, Girls Preparatory School, Chattanooga; Carmen Noel, Visual Art, LEAD Academy High School, Nashville; Heidi Saunders, K-5 Art, George Whitten Elementary, Hendersonville.
Chapter16.org is a literary website dedicated to reviewing and sharing the work of Tennessee writers, and to covering literary events happening across the state. The site was founded in 2009 by Humanities Tennessee as a response to the sharp decline in media coverage with the shutting down of book pages at newspapers statewide. The site is the only one exclusively dedicated to the literary life of the state, and has partnerships to provide book-related content to the Nashville Scene, Memphis Commercial Appeal, and Knoxville News Sentinel. These vital partnerships allow newspapers to cover local authors and events, providing critical publicity and helping to maintain the visibility of the active literary community in the state. Chapter16.org has interviewed everyone from Loretta Lynn to David Sedaris, and occasionally offers advance looks at works in progress by Tennessee writers, including Alan Lightman and Ann Patchett.
Humanities Tennessee co-founded the Salon@615 series in 2011 as a response to the closing of Nashville’s independent bookstore, Davis-Kidd Booksellers. As the primary center for author events throughout the year, Salon@615 endeavored to keep Nashville drawing diverse authors through free public events at the Nashville Public Library. The series features approximately 24 authors annually. Recent participants include: Richard Ford, Elizabeth Gilbert, Carl Hiaasen, Jon Meacham, and Amy Tan, among many others.
HT is a founding partner on the NashvilleREADS program, which annually encourages a community-wide read and discussion of a particular book, to include an opening or closing event with the author. NashvilleREADS engages diverse groups across the city for discussions, art projects, film showings and creative events to celebrate particular books. The 2017 NashvilleREADS selection is “March: Book 1” by Congressman John Lewis.
The Conversation Project provides a selection of topics
available for 90-minute discussions based on a brief audio, visual and/or
text excerpts and guided by a scholar/facilitator. Each of our topics
encourages participants to reflect on divisive issues—such as race and ethnic
relations—within the US over time, and to consider the significance of these
issues to our current civic affairs.
By engaging Tennesseans in collective reflection and conversation, the Conversation Project results in mutual understanding and respect among Tennesseans across points of division. Communities and nonprofits utilize these Conversations in many different ways. Any not-for-profit organization or high school in Tennessee is eligible to host a conversation. Humanities Tennessee covers the cost of the scholar/facilitator's honorarium and travel expenses.
Topics include: Dred
Scott and the Origins of American Citizenship, From Plessy to Brown:
Resolving the Promise of Equal Protection under the Law, Muslims in
Community Life, Region, Race, and Memory: Inheriting the Civil War, Routes
to Roots: Stories of New Americans, The Emancipation Proclamation, James
Baldwin and the 21st Century: Reflecting on Equality, Unpacking the
School-to-Prison Pipeline, Warriors in the Workforce: From Combat to the
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All Tennessee families should have access to high quality, developmentally appropriate child care and after-school programming for their children, regardless of income level.
In Tennessee, gang presence has been on the rise since the late 1980s and early 1990s, when gangs first made a concerted push into the state. Since 2011, police have identified at least 5,000 gang members in Davidson County, and gang-related crimes have increased by 25%. Meanwhile, cities with 50,000 or fewer inhabitants have seen gang-related crimes triple in frequency nationally since 2005.
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