Barbecue in the Carolinas Topic of Townsend Lecture

January 9, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – Barbecue, a symbol and staple of the South that is enjoyed year-round, will be the topic of the University of South Carolina’s annual Townsend Lecture Thursday, Jan. 15. 

Dr. John Shelton Reed, a retired sociology professor from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an authority on Southern barbecue traditions, will speak at 7:30 p.m. at the S. C. Archives and History Center at 8301 Parklane Road in northeast Columbia. 

His lecture, titled “The Balkans of Barbecue: Pit-Cooked Meat in the Carolinas,” is free and open to the public. 

“I’ll explore the history of barbecue in the Carolinas: the settings in which it has been served, the occasions it has been used to celebrate and the evolution of the different regional styles,” said Reed, whose latest book, “’Holy Smoke’: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue,” was released last fall by UNC Press. 

Reed is well known for his research and writing on Southern history and culture and the region’s food traditions. He has written more than a dozen books, which include “Cornbread Nation 4: The Best of Southern Food Writing” and “1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South.” 

At UNC Reed directed the Howard Odum Institute for Research in Social Science and helped establish the university’s Center for the Study of the American South. He is a founding co-editor of the quarterly, “Southern Cultures,” and a former president of the Southern Sociological Society. He has judged the Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest and is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance and the North Carolina Barbecue Society. 

The Townsend Lecture is among the premiere lectureships in the university’s College of Arts & Sciences. It was established in 1996 by Dr. J. Ives Townsend, a 1941 graduate of the University of South Carolina and professor emeritus at the Medical College of Virginia, through an endowment honoring his parents. Townsend requested that the topic of the lectures alternate between the culture of the South and the impact of biological sciences. 

For more information about the Townsend Lecture, call 803-777-9201.