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Our World in Need: Focus on Poverty

James Agee
James Agee

KNOXVILLE — “Baldwin Lee, James Agee and Walker Evans: Photography, Poverty, Politics in the South and Abroad” will be theme of a mini-summit to be held Feb. 4 and 11 at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

“Let Us Now Praise Famous Men,” by author James Agee and photographer Walker Evans, will be the used in various discussions on the first day. The second day will fast forward 50 years to the 1980s, with an exhibit and a presentation about photographs taken by UT Professor Baldwin Lee.

Three mini-summits looking at various aspects of poverty and work being done at UT Knoxville in these areas will be held this spring. Ready for the World, UT’s international and intercultural initiatives, has devoted this academic year to “Our World in Need” with a particular emphasis on the issue of poverty. A mini-summit on Poverty and Health Care is being planned for March and a mini-summit on Poverty, Energy and the Environment is being planned for April.

All of the events are free and open to the public.

The first mini-summit kicks off Feb. 4 with four short presentations and discussions about “Poverty and the Politics of Outreach and Engagement.” These will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. at UT’s Howard Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, 1640 Cumberland Ave.

Presenters include Michael Lofaro, English professor; Steven Dandaneau, associate provost and director of the Chancellor’s Honors Program; Rosalind Hackett, professor of religious studies; and a student panel led by Marvelene Moore, music professor.

Then, from 7 to 9 p.m., a community discussion of “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” will be held at the East Tennessee History Center, 601 S. Gay St. It will be led by Nissa Dahlin-Brown, associate director of the Baker Center, and Robert Kronick, professor of educational psychology and counseling.

In 1936, Agee the author, and Evans, the photographer, were on an assignment for Fortune magazine to write about sharecroppers in the South. Their work culminated in this book of stories and photos that provides a picture of life in the 1930s.

The mini-summit will continue on Feb. 11 when the study moves forward to the 1980s with a program titled, “Photography, Poverty and Culture in the South.”

From 7 to 9 p.m. in the Baker Center’s Toyota Auditorium, Lee — who earned his graduate degree from Yale School of Art where he studied under Evans — will provide an illustrated lecture of his journey through the South as he photographed families living in poverty and witnessed their culture and learned about their lives. His work will be featured in an upcoming book, “In Consideration of Photographing the South.”

Lee’s presentation will be followed by a tour of his photos exhibited in the Baker Center rotunda and a reception. An exhibit of Lee’s photography also will be displayed in Hodges Library. A display of Walker Evans’ photographs from “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” from the UT Ewing Gallery also will be featured in the Baker Center. All of the photo exhibits will be displayed through March 31.

This mini-summit is being sponsored by the Provost’s Office, Ready for the World, the Baker Center, the College of Education Health and Human Sciences, the Council on Academic Outreach and Engagement, UT Libraries, the School of Art and the Knox County Public Library.

For more information about each of the poverty mini-summits, see

Note: James Agee photo is courtesy of Florence Homolka.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,