Dr. Melanie Benson Taylor
Dr. Melanie Benson Taylor

MACON – Dr. Melanie Benson Taylor, professor of English and Native American studies at Dartmouth College, will deliver three lectures on the theme “The Weird South” for Mercer University’s 65th annual Lamar Lecture Series, the most prominent lecture series on Southern history and culture in the U.S.

The lectures, free and open to the public, are presented by Mercer’s Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies and will be held Oct. 3-4 in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center.

Dr. Taylor’s opening lecture, “The Grave,” will take place Oct. 3 at 6 p.m., followed by “The Trees” Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. The series will conclude with “The Forest” Oct. 4 at 6 p.m.

“We are excited to bring a scholar of the caliber of Dr. Taylor to Mercer and Macon,” said Dr. Doug Thompson, professor of history and director of the King Center. “We look forward to her lectures as Dr. Taylor explores the American South in all of its complex, and even weird, dynamics.”

Dr. Taylor serves as chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing and North Park House Professor at Dartmouth. She also serves as editor of academic journal Native South, which focuses on the investigation of Southeastern Indian history with the goals of encouraging further study and exposing the influences of Indian people on the wider South.

Her research and teaching interests include 20th and 21st century American literature and culture, U.S. Southern literature and culture, Native American literature and culture, American studies, postcolonial literature and theory, globalization studies, comparative studies of the Americas, economic history and theory, working class studies, and women’s studies.

Dr. Taylor has authored three books – The Indian in American Southern Literature (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Reconstructing the Native South: American Indian Literature and the Lost Cause (University of Georgia Press, 2012) and Disturbing Calculations: The Economics of Identity in Postcolonial Southern Literature, 1912-2002 (University of Georgia Press, 2008) – and has edited several volumes and journal issues and published numerous essays.

She earned her bachelor’s degree from Smith College and both her master’s degree and Ph.D. from Boston University.

The Lamar Lecture Series, made possible through a bequest from the late Eugenia Dorothy Blount Lamar, began in 1957. The series promotes the permanent preservation of Southern culture, history and literature. Speakers have included nationally and internationally known scholars, such as Michael O’Brien, Theda Perdue, Peter H. Wood, James C. Cobb, Trudier Harris and Minrose Gwin. The University of Georgia Press publishes the lectures each year.

About the Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies

The Spencer B. King Jr. Center for Southern Studies fosters critical discussions about the many meanings of the South. As the only center for Southern studies in the United States dedicated to the education and enrichment of undergraduate students, the Center’s primary purpose is to examine the region’s complex history and culture through courses, conversations and events that are open, honest and accessible. In addition to private gifts from donors, the Center is supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant.

About the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences serves as the academic cornerstone of one of America’s oldest and most distinctive institutions of higher learning. The oldest and largest of Mercer’s 12 schools and colleges, it is a diverse and vibrant community, enrolling more than 1,900 students, dedicated to learning and service through the practice of intellectual curiosity, respectful dialogue and responsible citizenry. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers majors in more than 30 areas of study, including more than a dozen pre-professional academic tracks, with classes taught by an outstanding faculty of scholars. In 2015, Mercer was awarded a chapter of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation’s most prestigious academic honor society that recognizes exceptional achievement in the arts and sciences. For more information, visit liberalarts.mercer.edu.

Featured photo by Christopher Ian Smith