Folklife in the South

Conference Overview

Join a gathering of community leaders, folklorists, traditional artists, educators, documentarians, and other cultural workers June 8-10, 2023, at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama

Submit a Workshop or Presentation Proposal

Do you have an interactive activity, discussion topic, or case study that the whole region can learn from?

Submit a proposal today

Detailed Conference Description

Join us for the 2023 Folklife in the South gathering (FITS, for short), June 8-10, 2023, at Lake Guntersville State Park in Guntersville, Alabama. FITS is a regional gathering that brings together community leaders, folklorists, traditional artists, educators, documentarians, activists, students, and other cultural workers from across the Southeast to learn from one another, celebrate traditional arts, discuss issues relevant to our region, and forge partnerships across disciplines, states, generations, and communities.

This year’s theme, “Folklife in a Textured World,” evokes the role of folklore and traditional arts in the complexity of contemporary life in the South. 

The FITS gathering is not a typical, formal, academic conference, but a collaborative convening that welcomes anyone interested in the diverse folklife of the American South. We encourage participants to wear comfortable clothes, take breaks when needed, and come prepared to meet with other attendees for workshops and presentations as a group. FITS has convened on a regular basis since the 1980s. This year, South Arts is partnering with the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Alabama Folklife Association, and the American Folklore Society to hold the first FITS gathering since 2017.

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What are Folk and Traditional Arts?

The South is home to an abundance of traditional art forms, whether they are indigenous to the region or reflect the traditions of immigrant communities. Traditional arts are shared aesthetics, practices, and values of families, geographic communities, occupational groups, ethnic heritage groups, etc. Traditional arts are learned orally, or by observation and imitation, often through a mentor artist instructing an apprentice. These traditions are usually maintained without formal instruction or academic training. Some traditional arts have a deep-rooted history with little change, while others are constantly evolving and adapting to their changing environment.

Some examples of traditional art forms practiced in the South include Afro-Cuban batá drum, Catawba pottery, Zydeco music, Indian Bharatha Natyam dance, Anglo American quilting, Peruvian retablos, African American foodways traditions, Chinese Zheng, Cherokee storytelling, Traditional Vietnamese Medicine, and Minorcan netmaking, among others.

Key Dates

  • Online Registration Opens: January 17, 2023 | Click here to register
  • Session Proposal Submissions Open: January 17, 2023 | Click here to submit a session proposal
  • Session Proposal Submissions Close: February 15, 2023
  • Agenda Announcement: Early April 2023
  • Online Registration Closes: May 31, 2023
  • In-Person Gathering: 
    • Thursday, June 8, 2023, 1:00pm – 8:00pm CT
    • Friday, June 9, 2023, 8:00am – 10:00pm CT
    • Saturday, June 10, 2023, 8:00am – 12:00pm CT
  • Self-Guided Field Trips: June 10, 2023 (after 12:00pm CT)

Registration Rates

  • Three-Day Registration, Private Room (June 8-10): $520
    • Includes five meals and two nights’ stay in a private room at Lake Guntersville State Park.
  • Three-Day Registration, Double Room (June 8-10): $360
    • Includes five meals and two nights’ stay in a double occupancy room at Lake Guntersville State Park. You may specify your preferred roommate. 
  • Three-Day Registration, No Lodging (June 8-10): $200
    • For participants who do not need lodging. Includes five meals and participation in all three days of activities, Thursday, June 8, through Saturday, June 10. 
  • Half-Day Registration (Thursday, June 8): $50
    • Includes one meal and participation in the half day of activities on Thursday, June 8, 2023.
  • One-Day Registration (Friday, June 9): $100
    • Includes three meals and participation in the full day of activities on Friday, June 9, 2023.
  • Half-Day Registration (Saturday, June 10): $50
    • Includes one meal and participation in the half day of activities on Saturday, June 10, 2023.

The FITS agenda will include recommendations for field trips, such as visits to nearby Alabama communities and artists. While not part of the official gathering agenda, field trips will be self-guided and open to all.

Register for Folklife in the South

Ready to Register?

Registration for the 2023 Folklife in the South gathering is now open!

Register for Folklife in the South

Submit a Workshop or Presentation Proposal

Folklife in the South is now accepting proposals for sessions relevant to the theme “Folklife in a Textured World.” Do you have an interactive activity, discussion topic, or case study that the whole region can learn from? Submit a proposal today!

All activities selected for the FITS agenda will be 45-minute plenary sessions, attended by all FITS participants. We encourage you to consider how to make your session interactive, while still keeping it accessible for an anticipated audience of approximately 100 participants.

Proposed sessions should not include presentations of a purely academic nature (such as paper presentations that may be common at an academic conference.) We welcome proposals for workshops, panel discussions, case study presentations, listening sessions/screenings, performances, etc. Proposals should be connected to the theme “Folklife in a Textured World,” and contribute to a conversation about the role of folklore and traditional arts in contemporary life.

All proposals should include a title and a 100-word abstract describing the structure and goals of the session. If accepted, the session's title, abstract, and names of presenters will be published in program materials.

The submission form can also accept more general ideas for sessions, topics, or themes you would like to see (but are not proposing to lead) at the FITS gathering. Please write N/A in the Proposal Title and Proposal Abstract fields, and describe your idea in the field titled “Other Ideas and Suggestions.” 

The submission form will be open January 17-February 15, 2023.

Submit a Session Proposal for FITS 2023

Questions?

For questions about Folklife in the South, please contact the South Arts Traditional Arts team: 

Teresa Hollingsworth, Director, Traditional Arts: thollingsworth@southarts.org
Ellie Dassler, Assistant Director, Traditional Arts: edassler@southarts.org