Dr. Clay Motley
Associate Director for Academics
My Role in the Honors College
I help develop the Honors College curriculum, work with faculty and administrators on Honors course offerings, and oversee Honors-related grants for students and faculty. I also work closely on developing our “WKU in England” program at Harlaxton College. I can occasionally be found actually teaching an Honors course.
I received a Ph.D. in English from the University of South Carolina in 2002, an M.A. in English from Eastern Kentucky University in 1997, and a B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky in 1996.
My area of research links the music and literature of the American South to the region's larger cultural and historical currents. I am particularly interested in the blues, early country, and early rock n' roll from the period 1920-1955. I am currently working on a grant-funded research project on Clarksdale, Mississippi, a city of 18,000 in the Mississippi Delta, where many significant musical artists were born or called home, such as W.C. Handy, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Sam Cooke, and Ike Turner, just to name a few, and "Blues Queen" Bessie Smith died there as well. Rather than focusing on individual artists, my project focuses on the city of Clarksdale, situating the artists and their music within the larger history of the city and changing culture of the Delta. The project then examines how today Clarksdale is attempting to draw upon its musical past to create a tourism industry. As with any "heritage industry," there are many complexities and controversies, and thus understanding Clarksdale's cultural past is of utmost importance for how it future will take shape.
“Sin City: Gram Parsons and the ‘Christ-haunted South.’” Walking the Line: Country Music Lyricists and The American Literary Canon. Eds. Thomas Alan Holmes and Roxanne Harde. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. (2012).“Fighting for Manhood: Rocky and Turn-of-the-Century Antimodernism.” All Stars and Movie Stars: Sports in Film, Television, and History. Eds. Ron Briley, et. al. Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 2008. 199-218.
“Dot’ sh a’ Kin’ a man I am!”: Abraham Cahan, Masculinity, and Jewish Assimilation in Nineteenth-Century America.” Studies in American Jewish Literature 30 (2011). 3-15.
"'It's a Hell of a Thing to Kill a Man': Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven and the Challenge and Affirmation of Manhood." Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture. 3 (2004): http://www.americanpopularculture.com/journal/articles/spring_2004/motley.htm
Matthews, John T. William Faulkner: Seeing Through the South. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. Reviewed in The South Atlantic Review. (Spring 2010) 158-160.
Barney, William L., The Making of a Confederate: Walter Lenoir’s Civil War. Oxford UP, 2008. Reviewed in The South Atlantic Review (Spring 2009) 186-189.
“Rod Brasfield.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
“Benjamin Ford.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
“Hee Haw.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
“Grandpa Jones.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
“Minnie Pearl.” The Grove Dictionary of American Music, Second Edition. Ed. Charles Hiroshi Garrett. New York: Oxford University Press. Forthcoming.
Hobbies and Interests
In addition to spending time with my family, I enjoy jogging, listening to all kinds of music (except bad kinds), cooking (particularly French and Mexican), crawling through caves, and exploring Clarksdale, Mississippi and the Delta for a future book project.
What Brought Me to the HC
It is a tremendous and special opportunity to be a formative part of Kentucky’s first Honors College. Working with Honors College students and faculty is the most academically satisfying job I could have.
A Little About Myself
My wife, Christie, and daughter, Mia, are the greatest. Although I am a native Kentuckian, I lived for ten years in South Carolina and miss oyster roasts and the beach. I think it is cruel yet rewarding that you can only get real English cask ale in England.