2010 Student Research Conference:
23rd Annual Student Research Conference

The Devil as God: The Blues in the Mississippi Delta
Drew K. Turner
Dr. Clifton Kreps, Faculty Mentor

Seemingly ubiquitous in our modern experience are the clashes between the worlds of institutional religion and secular culture. A common logical dichotomy found within the worlds of religion allows that God presides within their world, while the Devil holds sway within the world of secular culture. Through examining the cultural phenomenon of the birth of the blues in the Mississippi Delta, a setting in which Saturday evening juke joints tensely abutted the Christian services of Sunday morning, this analysis will challenge the simplicity of such a dichotomy. Influenced by Paul Tillich's essay, "On the Idea of a Theology of Culture," it will attempt to engage these two worlds in dialogue. The analysis will take us into the social contexts of early twentieth-century Mississippi, analyze the evocation of both God and the Devil within blues lyrics, and examine the experiences and reactions of two blues men turned preachers.

Keywords: theology, culture, Mississippi Delta, Blues, God, Devil, clash, dialogue

Topic(s):African-American Studies
Philosophy & Religion
Music

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 22-5
Location: MG 2090
Time: 10:30

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