Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dr. Lawrence's Class

Oh, my. Sorry it took me so long to post this link to Dr. Lawrence's Class' blog on "Our View of the West." These students have done a fabulous job. Please do yourself a favor and follow this link.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How cool is this?

As part of the True Grit project, Mr. Kevin Jones, Ms. Susan Whitlow, Dr. Dennis Siler, Mr. Roy Hill, and Mrs. Jacqulyn West of the Department of English and Rhetoric filmed a historic adaptation of the courtroom scene from Charles Portis' novel, True Grit on April 20th in cooperation with the Fort Smith National Historic Site. Students from Sigma Tau Delta, the English Honor Society and others worked to complete filming in the exhibit of Judge Isaac C. Parker's courtroom at the Fort Smith National Historic Site downtown. Mr. Jones directed this short scene and adapted a shooting script from the novel with much input from English faculty. The short film, "The Gritty Film Project" will be shown later this semester and in the summer on campus, at the Fort Smith Public Library, and for future classroom use. Students involved with the filming included Shawn Mann, Stephanie Raney, Johnathan Morgan, John West, Beau Berrera, Kathryn Feather, and Cara Hewett.

I cannot wait to see how this turns out. Fantastic work and thanks to all those involved. Very cool.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Way too much stuff going on!

I'm having a serious problem keeping up with all the True Grit happenings, folks. In addition, managing all this social media stuff--three facebook sites, a blog, and four email accounts--is seriously time-consuming. Especially with so much going on. Ok, here's what I know about.

This afternoon, in Holt 102, Roy Hill will have his demonstration on the firearms written about in the novel. This promises to be informative, safe, and interesting. I'd go if I were you.

Next Tuesday, Kevin Jone's class is filming the courtroom scene in the actual courtroom. He wanted me to play the prosecuting attorney (hmm), but I don't have time to be fitted for the costume (plus, where DO you get a prosecuting attorneys outfit from the late 1800s in my size?). We WILL find a place to show and/or post this video when it's done. That just sounds like lots of fun.

I just got notice that Marie Westphal's class is having an event next Tuesday as well. At 9:30, in Math-Science 204, her ENGL 1213 students will be giving a brief overview of their 'Quote Projects.' You'll want to go to that. Presentations are expected to only be about 20-35 minutes long but I am expecting great things from this great class.

Monday, we're going over to the Central Presbyterian Book Club meeting to talk with their readers about the book. I am REALLY looking forward to that.

And folks, if there's anything else going on please let me know.

Monday, April 5, 2010

True Grit Stuff

Big events last week. On Tuesday, Jacqulyn West conducted two seminars for interested students and faculty. Some really interesting conversation ensued. Jacqulyn talked to the students about reading the novel as a Fort Smithereener. One of the more interesting conversations I heard started with a few students who wanted to "indict" poor Mattie. She was wrong, they said, to seek revenge for her father's death and should have just left it to law enforcement. Well, I was having none of that! I think Mattie did the honorable thing. Showed "true grit," as it were. Sure, we don't like vigilante law, but really . . . ? Mattie was wrong? I just won't have it? Most of the other students rose to her defense, thank goodness.

On Thursday, we screened the movie twice in Echols. Both showings were well-attended. Lots of students at the first showing and lots of folks from the community at the second showing. Great conversations. I found that after my third viewing I really was appreciating Wayne's performance more. He DID win an Oscar for it, too.

Fantastic True Grit stuff going on! Keep blogging. If you're on Facebook (and who isn't?) you can see more pictures at the College of Languages and Communication Facebook page. Use the link on this blog.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Wow, these events are creeping up on me!

Lots of True Grit events coming up this month--some of them this week! Here's what I have on the calendar:

March 30th--Jacqueline West leads a discussion and has a short presentation on reading True Grit as a Fort Smitherite. That's at 9:30 and possibly again at 12:30 in the Holt building. Call the English office for details or watch this space.

April 1st--True Grit film showing and panel discussions in Echols conference room at 9:30 and then again at 1:00. You don't want to miss this! This will be fun. Come to either showing.

April 7th--Faculty panel presentation at the Delta Symposium at Arkansas State on teaching True Grit and our various projects.

April 16th--A presentation by Roy Hill on the firearms used in the book. Time and place to be announced. This will be good. Call the English office for details or watch this space.

April 17th--An actual firing of some of the weapons at Roy Hill's place. This one makes me nervous. English faculty and live ammo? Hmm.

April 19th--Some of us will be talking with the Central Presbyterian Book Club about their reading of the novel.

April 26th--Sigma Tau Delta and high school readers of True Grit discussion at the Fort Smith Public Library at 6:30 pm. Great service project for Sigma Tau Delta!

Great events coming up. I'll fill in some of these details as I have them. Feel free to email me at jhardin@uafortsmith.edu if you need more.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Film and Updates

Just a reminder that if you're just joining us the bulk of the blogging about the actual book is in the January archives in the posts labeled as Chapter One, Chapter Two, etc. I was reading and blogging at that time and there are many responses from smart students and faculty. That's a good place to catch up if you're just reading the book now.

In addition, here's a note from the Chair of English, Dr. Whiting, on the film date:

"Through the Center for Life-long Learning, we will be showing the 1969 film True Grit in the Echols Conference Center on April 1st. I can provide directions if you are unsure where Echols is. The first showing of the film will begin at 9:30 and the second will be at 1. The film is 128 min. long. Here’s the link for the film at the imdb website:


"We will conduct a short panel discussion/Q & A after each showing. I plan on having a sign-up sheet at the table in the entryway and having my students sign that – I am giving my class extra credit points for attending. You all are certainly welcome to do the same. Obviously the majority of students have class that day, but you are certainly welcome to approach the showings any way that you wish, or you can ignore it too. That’s okay. April is a busy month.

"In case you are interested, you can click on the imdb link for the new version of True Grit. It is quite informative of what we can expect when the film comes on in late December. It includes a casting call for extras (we missed it!) and some other interesting tidbits.


Thanks for that update, Dr. Whiting.

Friday, March 19, 2010


Hi, folks. I'm on the road and things are happening with True Grit. When I get back, I'll be posting lots and lots of event details. In the meantime, here's a link to some photos from a student field trip to downtown. Looks like they went to the Clayton House, the National Historical Site, Miss Laura's, and the Fort Smith City Museum.

In addition, here's a suggestion from Kevin Jones:

You might check out the local festivals coming up as a way to connect our students to TRUE GRIT. The Fort Smith Heritage Festival is April 10, beginning at 10am downtown. For more info, contact the Community Services Clearinghouse 782-5074, the United Way, or the City of Fort Smith. All proceeds benefit the "Meals for Kids," which feeds more than 2,400 hungry children in area Oklahoma and Arkansas schools. I thought the specific presentations at the Fort Smith Museum of History, National Historic Site (Parker's Courthouse), The National Cemetery, Miss Laura's, the Sebastian Co. Courthouse, and the Fort Smith Convention Center would also be of interest.

In addition to FREE tours at many of the above historic places, special presentations will be held at the FS Museum of His., the NPS site, Cemetery, Co. Courthouse, and the Convention Center.

For example, "The Fort Smith National Historic Site will present a living history tour following the experiences of a US MARSHAL bringing in a criminal from the Indian Territory." hmmmm, sounds like a good book.

People could also ride a mule wagon down Rogers Ave. from the Sebastian Co. Courthouse, see a shoot-out on the Sebastian Co. Courthouse Lawn (although I think this would be better at Parker's courthouse), plus, Baridi Nkokheli "brings the heroic" and "legendary US Deputy Marshal, Bass Reeves," to life in the FS Convention Center Children's Area.

Additionally, for the diversity sought after by some on this campus, you might check out the 2nd Annual Natchez Nation Benefit Powwow Honoring Families, or the numerous exhibits and vendors of Native American art, "Beautiful Asian and Spanish dancers," "Cultural Ambassadors," hands-on projects, and meet other living history participants, perhaps?

I am encouraging my students to attend this festival. I believe it would help us connect our chosen novel to a sense of place and help our community connect to our department a bit more, as well?

Some of you may have already known about this information, but in case you did not, I can provide copies of the pamphlet.

For what it is worth,
Kevin Jones

I think it's worth lots, Kevin. Thanks for writing.