Wendell Berry, Jon Meacham and Robert Hicks will be the featured speakers for the 2007 Conference on Southern Literature, held in conjunction with the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
The conference, which novelist and publisher Louis Rubin, Jr. calls "without doubt the leading literary event in the South," drew a record crowd of 1,100 attendees from 30 states when it was last held in 2005.
Since 1981, the Arts & Education Council (AEC) has been bringing avid readers and writers to Chattanooga for three days of discussion, speakers and fellowship with the great literary minds of the time.
Kicking off the 2007 Conference on Thursday is Chattanooga native and Newsweek editor Jon Meacham, whose latest best-selling work of non-fiction is American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation. Wendell Berry, award-winning author of over 30 works of poetry, fiction and non-fiction, will provide the keynote address on Friday evening, and Robert Hicks (Widow of the South) will speak to attendees at the Saturday luncheon. Other guest speakers include Catherine Landis (Harvest and Some Days There's Pie); 2005 PEN/Faulkner finalist William Henry Lewis (I Got Somebody in Staunton); and poet Greg Williamson (The Silent Partner and Errors in the Script).
Additional literary heavyweights in attendance include members of the prestigious Fellowship of Southern Writers, which holds its biennial meetings in conjunction with the Conference and houses its archives in Chattanooga. Participating members include Richard Bausch, Allan Gurganus, Josephine Humphreys, Bobbie Ann Mason, James Applewhite, Kaye Gibbons, Elizabeth Spencer, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Madison Smart Bell, and Louis Rubin, Jr.
New Fellowship inductees and recipients of the Fellowship's literary prizes will also participate in the Conference by giving readings and engaging in panel discussions, all centering on the Conference theme, "The Southern Writer: Exploring the Life Within."
"The biennial AEC Conference on Southern Literature is without doubt the leading literary event in the South," said Dr. Louis D. Rubin, Jr., award-winning novelist and publisher and founding member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. "It draws visitors not only from throughout the region but from all over the United States. To be invited to take part is an honor coveted by the South's leading authors."
"The AEC Conference is a writers' conference for readers," said Susan Robinson, AEC Executive Director. "It provides a venue for fans to connect with their favorite authors and also discover newly-emerging talent. Over the years, this Conference and its partnership with the Fellowship of Southern Writers have made Chattanooga a destination for lovers of literature and for the great authors that represent the South and its culture."
In addition to the scheduled Conference events, authors will also visit 17 area classrooms to give students a first-hand peek into the life of an author, a program that Dr. Rubin calls "a model for communities everywhere."
Registration for the Conference will begin in January. Cost is $110 for all three days, and early registration discounts will be offered through February 28. The public is invited to participate in all sessions during the Conference including the keynote address, readings and discussions. For the full schedule of events and to register, visit www.ArtsEdCouncil.org or call 1-800-267-4232.