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Contact: Teresa S. Thomas

For immediate release:
January 21, 2002

Former NEH Director Bill Ferris Speaks Feb. 5 In Carnegie Mellon Center for the Arts in Society Series

PITTSBURGH—Bill Ferris, an inductee of the Blues Hall of Fame and former chairman of the National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH), will discuss the "Humanities, the Arts, and the American Experience" at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 5, in McConomy Auditorium of the University Center on the Carnegie Mellon campus. Somewhat uncharacteristically for an academic speaker, Ferris also will accompany himself on the guitar. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Ferris is a research fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. He is a folklorist, filmmaker and anthropologist who writes about Southern culture, folk music and interdisciplinary studies.

Before becoming chairman of the NEH in 1997, Ferris served as the founding director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. The author of several books, he was co-editor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Ferris is also a recording artist who hosted a long-running blues radio program on National Public Radio. Bruce Cole replaced Ferris as NEH head this past summer.

As a consultant, Ferris worked on several major films, including Steven Spielberg's adaptation of Alice Walker's "The Color Purple."

He received the Charles Frankel Prize in the Humanities and the American Library Association's Dartmouth Medal. He was given the title of Chevalier and Officer in the Order of Arts and Letters by the French government.

Carnegie Mellon's Center for the Arts in Society, which investigates the connections between the fine arts and the humanities, sponsors the talk. For more information on the center or this event, contact Associate Director Tim Haggerty at 412-268-6211.


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