Pellissippi State faculty speaker addresses fighting heritage of East Tennesseans

Scottish and Irish immigrants poured into America in the 1700s and 1800s, many of them migrating to this region. Their impact on the culture of East Tennessee is still felt today, says Pat Riddle. Riddle is a faculty member and program coordinator of the Mechanical Engineering concentration in Engineering Technology at Pellissippi State Community College.

In a Nov. 15 presentation at the college titled “Born Fighting,” Riddle discusses the waves of emigration from the British Isles and how the thinking and behavior of native Tennesseans are still influenced by their ancestral heritage. The discussion is part of the 2012-13 Faculty Lecture Series, which showcases the expertise of Pellissippi State faculty members. The series lectures are designed to be informative and entertaining.

Riddle, who has Scottish blood coursing through his own veins, speaks at 12:30-1:30 p.m., in the Goins Building Auditorium at the Hardin Valley Campus. The event is free, and the community is invited to attend.

“Red hair and quick tempers are stereotypes of people of Scots-Irish descent,” said Riddle. “There’s a lot of truth in those stereotypes. The Scots are wired to fight.

“The Scots and Scots-Irish have always had to fight, and have long been known as the best fighters. The border region that includes Scotland and England has been in a constant state of war. The Normans and Saxons couldn’t conquer the locals. The Romans couldn’t conquer them, and ultimately they were sent to America to serve as a buffer between the ‘civilized’ colonies and Native Americans.”

The propensity to fight persists, Riddle says: The majority of the Marines come from Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky and Virginia. Fighting is in East Tennesseans’ DNA and is a pivotal element of our regional culture. The challenge we have today, he says, is to direct that impulse and energy in positive ways.

The Faculty Lecture Series is part of Pellissippi State’s new arts series, The Arts at Pellissippi State, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the visual arts.

The next lecturer is the English Department’s Keith Norris. Norris speaks on “A Hobbit’s Holiday: The Extraordinary Journey of Bilbo Baggins,” on Nov. 29, 7-8 p.m., in the Clayton Performing Arts Center at the Hardin Valley Campus.

For more information about the Faculty Lecture Series, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action for Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6607 or humanresouces@pstcc.edu.