Professor to speak on Hank Williams


“The Hank Williams Reader,” a new book on the country music legend, is the topic of a presentation at the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society’s McRitchie-Hollis Museum in Newnan on May 7 at 7 p.m.

University of West Georgia History Department Chair and Professor Dr. Steve Goodson will speak about the new book he co-edited.

In a special acoustic performance, musician Daniel Williams will perform some Hank Williams favorites in the McRitchie-Hollis gazebo at 6 p.m. preceding the talk.

Goodson specializes in the areas of U.S. Social and Cultural History, the Gilded Age, and the Progressive Era as a member of the UWG history department faculty. He received his Ph.D from Emory University in 1995.

Goodson’s work focuses primarily on the history of commercial entertainment in the United States.

He is the author of “Highbrows, Hillbillies, and Hellfire: Public Entertainment in Atlanta, 1880-1930” (Georgia, 2007), and now co-editor of “The Hank Williams Reader” with Patrick Huber and David Anderson (Oxford, 2014).

When Hank Williams died on New Year’s Day 1953 at the age of 29, his passing appeared to bring an abrupt end to a saga of rags-to-riches success and anguished self-destruction. As it turned out, however, an equally gripping story was only just beginning, as Williams’s meteoric rise to stardom, extraordinary musical achievements, turbulent personal life, and mysterious death all combined to make him an endlessly intriguing historical figure. For more than 60 years, an ever-lengthening parade of journalists, family and friends, musical contemporaries, biographers, historians and scholars, ordinary fans, and novelists have attempted to capture in words the man, the artist, and the legend.

“The Hank Williams Reader,” the first book of its kind devoted to this giant of American music, collects more than 60 of the most compelling, insightful, and historically significant of these writings. Among them are many pieces that have never been reprinted or that are published here for the first time.

The selections cover a broad assortment of themes and perspectives, ranging from heartfelt reminiscences by Williams’ relatives and shocking tabloid exposés to thoughtful meditations by fellow artists and penetrating essays by prominent scholars and critics.

Over time, writers have sought to explain Williams in a variety of ways, and in tracing these shifting interpretations, this anthology chronicles his cultural transfiguration from star-crossed hillbilly singer-songwriter to enduring American icon.

“The Hank Williams Reader” also features a lengthy interpretive introduction and the most extensive bibliography of Williams-related writings ever published.
For more information on the event and directions, call the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society office at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum, 770-251-0207.