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Home:  >News & Events   >News Archives   >2003

Faulkner Conference to focus on South’s ecology

July 20-24 meeting to feature scholars from England, Finland and France

June 28, 2003

By Deidra Jackson
University of Mississippi News Services

‘Oxford on the Hill,’ 1939, by John McCrady (1911-1968), multistage oil on canvas 33"x40", adorns this year’s Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference poster

OXFORD, Miss. — William Faulkner’s fiction is at the center of a rare ecological study during this year’s Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, July 20-24, at the University of Mississippi.

“Faulkner and the Ecology of the South” examines the relationships between the natural and constructed environments in the Nobel laureate’s fictional worlds. The 30th annual conference offers a novel look at Yoknapatawpha, the imaginary setting for many of Faulkner’s stories and novels, and “its vast system of relationships,” said Donald Kartiganer, conference director and UM’s Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies.

“We just haven’t looked at Yoknapatawpha in that way,” he said. “Faulkner’s world is deeply concerned with both the ‘green’ and ‘brown’ worlds, the natural and the built worlds, and the ‘conversation’ between them. The current study of ecology also concerns relationships within and between human communities, and Faulkner has created several such communities.

“They range from townspeople of Jefferson to the country people of Frenchman’s Bend, and also include the distinct African-American and Native-American groups,” Kartiganer said. “They are all part of the Yoknapatawpha world, part of a rich dynamic of peoples and environments.”

Since its creation in 1974, the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference has drawn scholars from throughout the world. It is one of the longest-running U.S. literary events focusing on the works of one author. Sponsored by the UM Department of English and Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the conference is coordinated by the Center for Non-Credit Education.

Kartiganer and nine other literary scholars and critics from across the United States and Europe are slated to lecture and lead discussions.

“No matter the angle of the approach, Faulkner’s work seems to rise to meet it, as the world of his fiction proves to be even more spacious and inclusive than we had imagined,” Kartiganer said.

Before July 1, conference registration fee is $150 for students, $250 for Friends of the Center and $275 for all other participants. Cost does not cover lodging, optional tours and meals. Fees increase by $25 after July 1. Only students can register for single conference sessions. On-site registration July 20 begins at 10 a.m. in UM’s Yerby Conference Center, with the opening program at 2:30 p.m. in Paul B. Johnson Commons ballroom. Lectures are in the ballroom.

Seven scholars appearing at the conference for the first time are Ann Fisher-Wirth, literary critic, poet and UM professor of English; Eric Gary Anderson, associate professor of English at Oklahoma State University; Keith Marshall, computer graphics designer, art historian and classical music critic for The Times-Picayune newspaper in New Orleans; Mikko Saikku of the University of Helsinki, Finland; Scott Slovic, professor of literature and environment, and director of the Center for Environmental Arts and Humanities at the University of Nevada-Reno; Cecelia Tichi, the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at Vanderbilt University; and Michael Wainwright, a doctoral candidate at the Royal Holloway Department of English, University of London.

Returning lecturers include Thomas McHaney, the Kenneth M. England Professor of Southern Literature at Georgia State University. He is the author or editor of seven books about Faulkner, as well as 10 volumes of the “William Faulkner Manuscripts” series.

Also returning is François Pitavy, professor emeritus of American literature at the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France. He is the author of several volumes on Southern literature and Faulkner, including William Faulkner’s Light in August: A Critical Casebook and, most recently, Le Bruit et la Fureur de William Faulkner.

Philip Weinstein, the Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, also returns. He is the author of four books, including Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns and What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison, and editor of The Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner.

Other conference events include a reading by novelist and former UM Grisham writer-in-residence Tom Franklin, author of the forthcoming book Hell at the Breech, and discussions by Faulkner friends and family. Also planned are sessions on “Teaching Faulkner,” directed by James Carothers of the University of Kansas, Robert Hamblin of Southeast Missouri State University, Arlie Herron of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and Charles Peek of the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia are to be on exhibit at UM’s John Davis Williams Library. Seth Berner, a well-known collector of Faulkneriana, is to conduct a special session about collecting Faulkner.

A conference highlight on July 20 is announcement of the winner of the 14th Faux Faulkner Contest, which draws writers who try to produce, according to the rules, “one really good page of really bad Faulkner parody.” Coordinated by the author’s niece, Dean Faulkner Wells, the contest is sponsored by Hemispheres magazine/United Airlines, Yoknapatawpha Press and UM.

Other Oxford-area events for registrants include a Sunday buffet supper at historic Isom Place, open-mike night dubbed “Faulkner on the Fringe” at Southside Gallery, guided day tours of northeast Mississippi, a picnic at Faulkner’s Rowan Oak and a closing party Thursday afternoon at Square Books.

Films relating to Faulkner’s life and work are scheduled to be available for viewing during the week. “Red Hills to Gulf Shores: Autographics,” an exhibition of photographs by Todd Bertolaet, is on display in the Gammill Gallery at Barnard Observatory on campus, and the illustrations of Thomas B. Allen are to be exhibited at University Museums.

For more information, assistance related to a disability or to register for the conference, contact the Center for Non-Credit Education at 662-915-7283 or go to The center also can be contacted at P.O. Box 879, University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677-1848 or by e-mail at

Other information on Lafayette/Yoknapatawpha County, Miss., is available through the Oxford Tourism Council at 800-758-9177.

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