31 October 2001
UNIVERSITY, Miss. Dr. Charles Reagan Wilson, director of the University of Mississippis Center for the Study of Southern Culture, has been honored by the Tennessee-based Germantown Arts Alliance for significant contributions to the arts.
Cited for his work in literature, Wilson was among five recipients of the Alliances 2001 Arts and Humanities Medal for Outstanding Achievement, which are represented by bronze medals casted at Lugar Foundry in Eads, Tenn. Past literature honorees have included John Grisham, Eudora Welty, Don Donaldson, and Shelby Foote.
Katherine Bell, Alliance administrator, said the nominating committee was impressed with Wilsons literary contributions, most notably his work as co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, (University of North Carolina Press, 1989).
The award honors his vision, dedication and devotion to excellence, Bell said.
Wilson, whose specialization is Southern religious and cultural history, also was cited for his other published works, Judgment and Grace in Dixie: Southern Faiths from Faulkner to Elvis (University of Georgia Press, 1995) and Baptized in Blood: The Religion of the Lost Cause, 1865-1920 (University of Georgia Press, 1980).
I am very honored and pleased to receive the Arts and Humanities Award, Wilson said. The contemporary South is undergoing an artistic and cultural renaissance, and institutions like the Germantown Arts Alliance play an important role in nurturing cultural life. To be recognized by them is reassuring that my work and that of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture are parts of a larger story.
Other 2001 medalists included James Blackwood of the Blackwood Brothers gospel singing group, for Lifetime Achievement in the Performing Arts; Michael Ching, director of the Memphis Opera, for performing arts; Richard R. Ranta, dean of the College of Communication Arts at the University of Memphis and executive director of the Southern States Communication Association, for patronage of the arts; and H. David Wright, an artist, for visual arts.
Founded in 1992, the Germantown Arts Alliance is a non-profit funding and advocacy agency for community arts programs, which this year has awarded some $800,000 in grants, with about half going to schools, Bell said.
Wilson has taught at the University of Mississippi since 1981 and has been adviser of the graduate program in Southern studies. Under his leadership in 1999, the UM Center founded in 1977 received a landmark $50,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, designating it as one of only 16 in the nation to receive the award and to take part in its new Initiative for Regional Humanities Centers program. The grant may lead to the UM Centers being designated one of only 10 major American humanities centers devoted to the study of the nations regions.
The professor of history and Southern studies earned bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. He also is editor or coeditor of Religion and the American Civil War (Oxford University Press, 1998), The New Regionalism (University Press of Mississippi, 1998), and Religion in the South (University of Mississippi Press, 1985).