Brooks Blevins

Historian
Missouri State University
Springfield
About the Speaker

Brooks Blevins is the Noel Boyd Professor of Ozarks Studies at Missouri State University in Springfield. He is a native of the Ozarks, tracing his roots deep into the antebellum era in both Arkansas and Missouri. He has written seven books and edited three more. His most recent books are A History of the Ozarks, Volume I: The Old Ozarks and A History of the Ozarks, Volume 2: The Conflicted Ozarks, the first two books of a trilogy on the history of the region.

How to Talk Ozark in Seven Simple Steps

This lighthearted presentation explores early ethnic and cultural influences on the Ozarks through the lens of dialect and accent. It dismisses the old notion of Elizabethan dialect in the Ozarks and instead looks at words, phrases, and speech patterns that were once common in vernacular Ozark (and usually Appalachian) language, tracing their origins to European or colonial American roots. The presentation invites frequent audience participation and includes a built-in “Talking Ozark” quiz. Natives or longtime residents of the Ozarks will enjoy revisiting styles and words that have probably gone unused for decades, and others will gain an appreciation for cultural diffusion and regional distinctiveness in Missouri—as well as the forces that constantly chip away at that distinctiveness.

Blue Coats, Yellow Dogs, and Red Maps: A History of Politics in the Ozarks

In recent years the Ozark region has become a dependably red (Republican) block in presidential elections, but that wasn't always the case. Historian Brooks Blevins introduces audiences to the grand scope of political history in the region, from the days of Jacksonian Democracy before the Civil War to Donald Trump's overwhelming clean sweep of the region in 2016. Blevins illustrates events that changed the region's political loyalties: from the conflict of the Civil War war era that divided the Missouri Ozarks into Republican and Democrat sections, through the contentious days of populism in the late 19th-century, to late 20th-century developments that made the Ozarks more politically homogeneous. Along the way audiences will meet colorful political figures from Ozarks history, including one-time presidential hopeful "Silver Dick" Bland and brilliant orator and New Deal opponent Dewey Short.