March 19, 2008 — This spring marks 50 years since the great American author William Faulkner served his second and last term as writer-in-residence at the University of Virginia. To mark the occasion, the U.Va. Library and the English department have organized an exhibit and a symposium to explore what “Faulkner in the University” meant in the late 1950s and what it means now.
The symposium will be held on Friday, April 4 at 2 p.m. in the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library Auditorium. Space is limited; individuals interested in attending should contact Judy Christian at email@example.com by March 31 to reserve a seat.
While Faulkner's stature is as impressive as ever, the way scholars, teachers and critics interpret his significance for literary, historical and cultural studies has continued to make his work new for each generation. Four noted Faulkner scholars — Noel Polk, Thadious Davis, Judith L. Sensibar and Grace Hale — will lead a discussion of the ways interpretations have changed since the late 1950s.
An exhibition, “William Faulkner at the University of Virginia,” is also on display on the first floor of the Harrison Institute/Small Special Collections Library. The exhibit features letters, manuscripts, the typewriter from his office in Alderman Library and a map of Yoknapatawpha County (the fictional Mississippi county where Faulkner set much of his work).
English professor Stephen Railton's graduate seminar on Faulkner is adding materials they select from the Faulkner Papers to reflect the way the author is appreciated and explored in the University today.
An interactive kiosk will allow visitors to view films related to Faulkner, or listen to audio clips of Faulkner reading his fiction and answering questions at U.Va. in 1957-58.
“Faulkner in the University” Symposium Participants
• Noel Polk, English professor at Mississippi State University, is the principal editor of "The Corrected Text" editions of Faulkner's novels. He also has published concordances to Faulkner's novels, written several book-length critical studies of Faulkner's works and co-edited several more.
• Thadious M. Davis, Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania, is the author of "Games of Property: Law, Race, Gender, and Faulkner's 'Go Down, Moses'" (2003). Recently, she delivered a paper in Tokyo at an International Faulkner Symposium, sponsored by the Faulkner Society of Japan.
• Judith L. Sensibar, English professor emerita at Arizona State University, has applied her interests in gender studies, feminist and psychoanalytic theory and the problems of modern literary biography to Faulkner. In addition to publishing "The Origins of Faulkner's Art" (1984), her current book project is a group biography whose focus is Faulkner's imaginative development in the context of his relationships with his black and white "mothers" and with the woman who became his wife.
• Grace Hale, associate professor of history at U.Va., concentrates on 20th-century American cultural history and the American South. Author of the book, "Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940," Hale recently published the article, "'We're Trying Hard as Hell to Free Ourselves': Southern History and Race in the Making of William Faulkner's Literary Terrain,” co-authored with Robert Jackson, in the 2006 "Blackwell's Companion to William Faulkner."
Photos of William Faulkner while at U.Va., and the e-mail address from which to request permission to use them can be found at this U.Va. Library Web site: http://mcgregor.lib.virginia.edu/prints/FMPro.