TTU professors to give presentations at Southern Festival of Books in Nashville Oct. 10-12

The Southern Festival of Books doesn’t sound like the kind of place you’d go to find a political scientist and a chemist, but one of each from Tennessee Tech University will be there.

TTU political science professor Michael Gunter and chemistry professor Barbara Jackson have both been invited to participate in the Southern Festival of Books, which is scheduled for Oct. 10-12 at the War Memorial Plaza and the Tennessee State Capitol in Nashville.

Gunter’s appearance is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11, in Room 31 of the War Memorial Plaza. His book, published this year by Palgrave Macmillan, is titled The Kurds Ascending: The Evolving Solution to the Kurdish Problem.

TTU chemistry professor Barbara Albers Jackson will be participating in a panel discussion titled “Words and Images: Crafting Graphic Novels” at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 11.

She is the author of Rama the Legend, which is a Western adaptation of the Hindu epic, The Ramayana.

Among the other panelists will be Scott Chirstian Sava, author of The Dreamland Chronicles, which won a Best Graphic Novel award in 2006.

In addition to being a chemistry professor and writer, Jackson is an acclaimed screenwriter, whose scripts and short films have won numerous awards at various national and international film festivals.

Gunter said, “My presentation is unique because it’s a rare academic book that has crossed the line into the popular market.”

The timeliness and global newsworthiness of the topic have helped propel the book to its current distinction.

“It deals with an important aspect of the Iraqi War the U.S. has been involved in since 2003, and it also deals with how the Kurdish issue impacts Turkey’s candidacy in the European Union, which will affect the EU in very major ways,” Gunter said.

He asserts in the book that two U.S. wars against Saddam Hussein have actually benefited the northern Iraqi Kurds by providing them the opportunity to create the Kurdistan Regional Government.

“The KRG has become an island of democratic stability, peace and burgeoning economic progress, as well as an autonomous part of a projected federal, democratic, post-Saddam Hussein Iraq,” he said.

“If such an Iraq proves impossible to construct, as it well may, the KRG is positioned to become independent. Either way, the evolution of a solution to the Kurdish problem in Iraq is clear,” Gunter continued.

As for how Turkey’s inclusion in the EU would impact the Kurdish problem, he said it would “have the fortuitous side effect of granting that country’s ethnic Kurds their full democratic rights that have hitherto been denied.”

During the summer, Gunter teaches at the International University in Vienna, Austria.

One of the world’s leading scholars about the Kurdish question, he has published four other critically praised scholarly books about the topic and numerous scholarly articles in such leading periodicals as Middle East Journal, Middle East Quarterly, Middle East Policy, Current History, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, and Orient.

He was recently appointed to an international board promoting Turkey’s inclusion into the EU, and is the only American to hold such a prestigious distinction with the organization.

The Southern Festival of Books is a three-day literary event held the second full weekend of October each year.
Free and open to the public, it welcomes more than 200 authors of every genre from across the nation for readings and presentations, panel discussions and book signings.

The festival gives book lovers the opportunity to hear from and meet some of America’s foremost writers in fiction, history, mystery, food, biography, travel, poetry and children’s literature, among other genres.