SCC's Arnow Conference Expanding Its Focus in 2019 | SCC

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SCC's Arnow Conference Expanding Its Focus in 2019

Published on Feb 5, 2019

Somerset Community College’s Arnow Conference for the Humanities has spent the past sixteen years focusing on the craft of writing. This year, the annual event held in honor of Kentucky Author Harriette Simpson Arnow will also delve into history, politics, journalism, theatre, social issues and filmmaking.

The two-day event will be filled with presentations, performances, workshops, lectures, panel discussions as well as an international film festival. The event will take place on the Somerset Community College (SCC) campus at 808 Monticello Street on Friday and Saturday, April 5th and 6th. Tickets to individual sessions are $5.00 each. A day pass can be purchased for either Friday or Saturday for $15.00. A full conference pass for all events is $30.00.

This year’s theme is “Weaving the Tapestry: Past, Present, and Future.” The annual event has been expanding the variety of its activities and interests over the past five years. The emphasis on fiction and poetry remains, but interest in playwriting, songwriting, and other forms of authorship have broadened the conference’s focus.

Last year, the conference even added a film festival and began to explore the process of filmmaking, including screenwriting. Buoyed by the positive reaction to this addition, conference organizers decided to expand the two-day event from a writer’s conference to one that explores vital issues through all of the humanities. The Arnow Conference for the Humanities will continue to host its popular writing workshops. The musical performances and thematic exhibits, which have become a tradition with the Arnow conference, will continue to be a part of the expanded festivities as well.

“Sitting in the Arnow Conference sessions last year, I heard speakers and presenters talk about topics that are commonly discussed in many of the classes in the Humanities, Fine Arts and Social Sciences Division.” Said, Jon Burlew, SCC Interim Dean, Arts and Sciences, “I was impressed with the depth of the presentations and realized that it made sense to expand the conference to include our entire division.”

Burlew proposed to his division that they expand this year’s conference. He also suggested that broader perspective be organized around a theme. “The organizers of this year’s Arnow Conference have really stepped up and developed a conference that will appeal to a broad range of interests,” he concluded.

The conference will kick off on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. with a keynote address by Kentucky author and 2005-2006 Kentucky Poet Laureate, Sena Jeter Naslund. Naslund is the author of seven published novels and two collections of short fiction. Her address is entitled, "Where a Writer Finds Riches: Past, Present, & Future."

This will be followed at 11:00 a.m. by a panel discussion on the many influences of Robert Penn Warren’s novel, “All the King’s Men.” The discussion, including members of SCC’s faculty, will be led by Robert Penn Warren Scholar, Dr. Jonathan S. Cullick as a part of Kentucky Humanities “Great Book Discussions.”

Following a tribute to Harriette Simpson Arnow at 1:00 p.m., the conference will break up into four concurrent sessions at 2:15 p.m. and repeat at 3:30 p.m. on the topics of artistic expression by Kasandra McNeil, the opioid crisis in Appalachia by Krissy Brant, the history of SCC’s Slave Grave Memorial and a panel discussion of George Orwell’s novel “1984” by SCC’s “common read.”

We are pleased to have Dr. Kathy Bullock, from Berea college come to present a performance/presentation entitled “From African to Appalachian Music.” Concurring with this event will be a book signing session with the presenting authors at the conference at 4:30 p.m.

At 7:00 p.m., the conference will host Irish Filmmaker Nicholas Ryan-Purcell’s documentary detailing his journey with autism. “This is Nicholas” is currently making the cinema circuit in Ireland and has been met with much excitement. Ryan-Purcell will be on hand along with members of SCC’s faculty for a question and answer session following the screening.

On Saturday morning, the conference will reconvene at 9:30 a.m. with a presentation of the first annual Gurney Norman “Friend of the Humanities” award. Former SCC faculty member, Sharon Whitehead, will present a performance from Gurney’s novel, “Kinfolks” and make a formal presentation of the award.

At 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, the keynote address entitled, “The Fluidity of Time and Culture,” will be presented by Kentucky Poet Laureate, Frederick Smock.  Smock is an English professor and director of the creative writing program at Bellarmine University. On May 1 of 2017, he was appointed to the position as Kentucky’s 28th Poet Laureate.

After lunch beginning at 1:15 p.m., the conference will once again offer two concurring slots of four sessions covering journalism by Don White, playwriting by Amber Frangos, writing fiction by Flora Schildknecht, enticing tension in fiction by Nancy Jensen and poetry by Sandi Keaton-Wilson.

After these sessions have concluded, SCC will host an “open podium” encouraging those attending the conference to present excerpts from their own works. This event will be held concurrently with another book signing session with authors presenting at the conference.

Be sure to come at 4:30 p.m., former SCC student and L.A. television writer and producer, Scott Sullivan, will present a session outlining his journey from Somerset to Hollywood. He will also provide insights into the process of writing for television.

Closing out the conference that evening at 7:00 p.m., SCC will conclude with the Arnow International Film Festival. Short films from the region and around the world will be presented on the theme “Weaving the Tapestry: Past Present and Future.” Awards will be presented including a “people’s choice” award voted on by the conference audience.

“The connections that we’ve made with filmmakers from around the world through our Autumn Shorts Film Festival over the past ten years should deliver a slate of films that will serve the theme our conference in a meaningful and lively fashion,” stated SCC Theatre & Film Director Steve Cleberg. Cleberg will bring nearly 15 years of experience as a film festival producer to this year’s Arnow Conference and Film Festival.

SCC’s Fruit of the Lens digital photography exhibit Patterns of Our Past: A Photo Essay will be running in the Meece Auditorium throughout the conference. The Arnow Conference for the Humanities is done in cooperation with Kentucky Humanities who sponsors appearances of Dr. Jonathan Cullick’s Great Discussions Presentation and Frederick Smock’s Saturday keynote address.

For regular updates on the conference, “like” the Facebook page at “Arnow Conference for the Humanities.”

For further information regarding Somerset Community College’s Arnow Conference for the Humanities, and advanced registration, contact Theresa Kibby at 451-6766 or via email at

arnow conference poster