The Diane D. Blair Center
OF SOUTHERN POLITICS and SOCIETY

 

The Arkansas Poll

One of the center's current activities is the Arkansas Poll which has been created for the purposes of scholarly research as well as service to governmental and policy elites in Arkansas . The poll is a telephone survey of the political attitudes and policy positions of a representative sample of people living in Arkansas conducted in the fall of each year. The Arkansas Poll is a project that generates data of use to researchers, lawmakers, journalists, and the public.  It creates "spin-off" survey research projects worthy of nationally-competitive grants and brings positive, focused attention to the Blair Center and the importance of the life and accomplishments of Diane Blair each and every time it is conducted.

 

Regional History

The Department of History at the University of Arkansas offers an exceptional concentration of outstanding talent focusing on a unique part of America, the region where the South meets the West: Arkansas, Western Missouri, South Kansas, and Eastern Texas. The Delta region of the state meanwhile is within the Mississippi Delta, encompassing the states of Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana.


Ten of the department's faculty have publications that focus or touch on this region's history, and several have published award-winning books. They include Randall B. Woods, whose biography of J. William Fulbright won the Ferrell award; Daniel Sutherland whose publications on the Civil War experience in Arkansas have received wide acclaim; and David Chappell who has published on the Central High Crisis and who is considered among the most promising historians of his generation. Jeannie Whayne, whose books on Arkansas have won numerous awards, has focused on the Mississippi Delta region, and particularly on the crisis facing the region as it struggles to deal with a legacy of racism and violence. At the same time, Whayne is at work with Elliott West, a western historian of great distinction, on a study which examines how western Arkansas is both West and South, and how that peculiarity marks both the culture and politics of the state.

The African American Studies program is directed by an accomplished member of the history faculty. The recent recruitment of Charles Robinson, a very promising young scholar who works on miscegenation statutes, provides a political anchor to the program. Robinson is revising a book for publication that incorporates an analysis of statutes in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama.

The department is thus in the position of leading and directing the study of this historically rich, geographically diverse, and culturally complex part of our nation.

Arkansas Oral and Visual History Project

The Arkansas Center for Oral and Visual History is actively capturing much of the state's past through audio and selected video interviews. Founded in November 1999, the Center has launched an ambitious program of interviews. It held a press conference recently to announce the deposit of its first transcribed interview, that of the incomparable Diane Blair. That interview provides a wealth of information about Blair's experiences as both an observer of, and a participant in, some of the most important political events occurring in Arkansas in the last three decades.

Southern Literature

Diane Blair's love of the Southern storytelling tradition, and especially memoirs by Southern women writers, makes literature a national area of interest for the Blair Center. Under the new leadership of Robert Brinkmeyer, a widely respected scholar of Southern literature, the department intends to enhance its existing reputation as a center for the creation and study of Southern literature. The department's renown Programs in Creative Writing has for many years been the home of some of the South's best writers, among them Miller Williams, James Whitehead, and William Harrison. The English faculty also boasts some of the best-known scholars of Southern literature and culture, such as folklorist Robert Cochran, Old South and Arkansas literature specialist John C. Guilds, and African Americanist Keneth Kinnamon, along with rising young scholars like Susan Marren and Yemisi Jimoh.

 

 

The Blair Center
of Southern Politics and Society
428 Old Main
Fulbright College of Arts & Sciences
University of Arkansas
Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701
(479)-575-3356
Todd Shields, Director
tshield@uark.edu