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Why Reconsider Flannery O'Connor (Overview)

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Co-Directors

bruceMarshall Bruce Gentry has edited the Flannery O’Connor Review and promoted the careers of those who study O’Connor since he came to Georgia College in 2003. Co-Director of the 2007 NEH Institute on O’Connor at Georgia College, he has also hosted several O’Connor conferences in Milledgeville and is starting plans for another conference in fall of 2015 (to which, of course, all 2014 Summer Scholars will be invited). Author of Flannery O’Connor’s Religion of the Grotesque and articles in various collections, Gentry enjoys the study of narrative voice, gender issues, literary influence and parent-child relations in O’Connor. He is currently working with John D. Cox on Approaches to Teaching the Works of Flannery O’Connor for MLA.   

As a co-director of “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor,” Gentry led the site trip to the childhood home of O’Connor in Savannah, Georgia. 

RobertRobert Donahoo is a former president of the O’Connor Society and co-editor of the 2010 collection, Flannery O’Connor in the Age of Terrorism. A participant in the first O’Connor NEH Summer Institute in 2007, he has for many years focused his attention on historicizing the fiction of O’Connor, particularly within the contexts of Milledgeville, Georgia and the American South. His essays explore various historical connections including the status of women both in the South and in Catholic publications of the post-war period, population migration in the South, concerns about juvenile delinquents and attempts to memorialize history through monuments. This historical focus has most recently led to work with the manuscripts of O’Connor’s lectures known only to most scholars through the edited essays first collected in Mystery and Manners.

As a co-director of “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor” he acted as a consultant with NEH Summer Scholars about their projects throughout the duration of the institute, offering advice and reading Scholars’ project drafts. He resided with NEH Summer Scholars in Sanford Hall, the dormitory housing provided for participants, encouraging discussions during group meals and informal evening sessions on the porch. He headed up the field trip to Emory University where scholars learned about Emory’s collection of O’Connor materials and met with O’Connor’s friend and authorized biographer, William Sessions.

Assistants to the Co-Director

Laura Martin is an MFA student in creative writing here at Georgia College. She holds a BA from New York University. Originally from the small town of Woodstock, IL and she has lived most her adult life in New York and Chicago, working as a hairstylist, teacher and blog writer.

Jim Owens is an MFA student at Georgia College. He’s from Hueytown, Alabama, west of Birmingham. He’s a graduate of Auburn University and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Prior to UAB, he worked as a retail buyer for sporting goods. He spends most of his time outdoors, along rivers when he can.

Seminar Faculty

Brad Gooch’s 2010 Flannery: A Biography of Flannery O’Connor turned up the spotlight on O’Connor when it was named a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist and New York Times Notable Book of the Year—not to mention accomplishing the highly unusual feat for an academic tome of being a New York Times bestseller. This study of O’Connor’s life followed an earlier biography of Frank O’Hara and he is currently at work on a biography of the Persian poet Rumi as well as translations of Rumi’s work. In addition to his fiction and non-fiction publications, these works demonstrate the versatility and broad range of interests Professor Gooch brings to the Summer Institute.

A Professor of English at William Paterson University, Professor Gooch will lead seminars for “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor” that will focus on O’Connor’s relations to community, especially her connections to mysticism and to the New Critics. In addition, he will deliver a public lecture on July 23 entitled “Flannery and Brad: A Rocky Relationship,” which will draw on his experience of writing an O’Connor biography. During his week at the Institute, he will be available to meet with NEH Summer Scholars to discuss their Institute projects and to offer advice on dealing with archives and publishing archival materials. More information on Professor Gooch.

Robert H. Brinkmeyer, Jr. is one of the most prolific and respected active scholars of Southern literature. He published two books on O’Connor early in his career, Three Catholic Writers of the Modern South (UP of Mississippi) and The Art and Vision of Flannery O’Connor (Louisiana State UP), later expanding his study to the broader South with such books as Remapping Southern Literature: Contemporary Southern Writers and the West (U of Georgia P) and The Fourth Ghost: White Southern Writers and European Fascism, 1930-1950 (Louisiana State UP). He is at work on essays concerning writers as diverse as Richard Ford, Cormac McCarthy and V. S. Naipaul.

The Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies and Director for the Institute of Southern Study at the University of South Carolina, Professor Brinkmeyer will lead seminars for “Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor” that will focus on fundamentalism and anti-intellectualism in O’Connor’s fiction. He will deliver a public lecture on July 16 entitled, “Reading Flannery O’Connor Alongside Eudora Welty.” During his week at the Institute, he will be available to meet individually with NEH Summer Scholars to discuss their O’Connor projects and to provide advice regarding avenues of research and venues for publication. More information on Professor Brinkmeyer.

Doreen Fowler may be best known for her psychological studies of southern fiction, especially the work of William Faulkner, but in recent years she has turned to the work of Flannery O’Connor, exploring the intersection of race issues and psychological theory in O’Connor’s thought and fiction. Fowler’s 2013 book, Drawing the Line: The Father Reimagined in Faulkner, Wright, O’Connor and Morrison (U of Virginia P) is a significant product of her O’Connor interests, drawing on several earlier journal articles on O’Connor. Her 2011 article in Arizona Quarterly, “Flannery O’Connor’s Productive Violence,” shows her continued commitment to developing fresh readings of O’Connor’s fiction that are built upon a strong theoretical foundation.

A professor of English at the University of Kansas, Fowler will lead seminars for the Institute that will examine race in O’Connor’s writing and she will deliver a public lecture on July 9 entitled, “Flannery O’Connor’s Racial Politics.” During her week with the Institute, she will be available to meet individually with NEH Summer Scholars to discuss their own O’Connor projects and to offer advice and direction on their research and writing and she will be a practical resource for anyone interested in comparing O’Connor’s work to other literary authors. More information on Professor Fowler

Virginia Wray is well known to O’Connor scholars for her service as the first editor of the Flannery O’Connor Society newsletter, Cheers!, as the second president of the O’Connor Society and for her invaluable articles on O’Connor’s writing, particularly O’Connor’s apprentice writing and her unfinished novel, Why Do the Heathen Rage?. A seminar leader at the first Flannery O’Connor Summer Institute in 2007, she received some of the highest evaluations from NEH Summer Scholars who praised the practicality of her seminars and her insights into teaching.

The W.C. Brown Professor of English as well as the Vice President for Academic Services and Dean of Faculty at Lyon College, professor Wray will lead seminars focused on the themes of charity and accusations of racism in relation to O’Connor and she will deliver a public lecture entitled “‘So Much to be Thankful For’: Maritain Introduces Aquinas to the Modern World,” on July 21. During her week at the Institute, she welcomes individual meetings with NEH Summer Scholars to discuss issues related both to teaching and scholarship. More information on Professor Wray.

Gary Ciuba has focused much of his career on the intersection of religion and violence. In 2007, this led to his second book, Desire, Violence, and Divinity in Modern Southern Fiction: Katherine Anne Porter, Flannery O’Connor, Cormac McCarthy, Walker Percy (Louisiana State UP). The importance of this book was recognized when it was awarded the 2008 C. Hugh Holman Award by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature as the year’s best work in Southern literary studies. Since then, he has twice returned to examine violence and faith in O’Connor: an essay published in the Flannery O’Connor Review and an essay in Susan Srigley’s recent collection Dark Faith: New Essays on Flannery O’Connor’s The Violent Bear It Away.

A professor of English at Kent State University, Trumbull Campus, Professor Ciuba will lead seminars for the Summer Institute on the subject of Girardian violence in O’Connor and deliver a formal lecture on July 7 entitled “Exposing the Victim / Victimizing the Exposé: Parody and Persecution in the Partridge Festival" During his week with the Institute in Milledgeville, he will seek to meet individually with all NEH Summer Scholars, welcoming questions, comments and project ideas that involve examining violence in O’Connor’s writing and faith. More information on Professor Ciuba

Christina Bieber Lake burst onto the scene of O’Connor studies with the publication of a widely admired study of O’Connor’s theological vision, The Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor (Mercer UP) and she has continued to examine O’Connor’s work from the cutting edge of theory in her 2013 book, Prophets of the Posthuman: American Fiction, Biotechnology and the Ethics of Personhood (U of Notre Dame P). In addition, she has essays on O’Connor related to the intersection of science and ethics that are set to appear in two forthcoming collections, one from Oxford UP and the other from UP of Kentucky.

An Associate Professor of English at Wheaton College, Professor Lake will lead seminars for the Summer Institute connecting cognitive psychology, neuroscience and the ethics of personhood to O’Connor and she will deliver a public lecture on July 14 entitled “What Exactly is ‘Wise Blood’: Flannery O’Connor, Literary Darwinism and the Question of Human Universals.” During her week with the institute, she will be available to meet individually with all NEH Summer Scholars interested in her comments and advice concerning their O’Connor projects and teaching. More information on Professor Lake.

Gordon Thomas is the Archival Associate with Georgia College Special Collections. Gordon has been in this position since January of 2013. As an honor graduate of Georgia College, Gordon earned his BA in History from the institution while minoring in Political Science. Gordon was born and raised in Macon. He was introduced to Flannery O’Connor through his family--as he is a relative of Flannery on his mother’s side--his great grandmother and Flannery’s father were 1st cousins, if he has that correct. And no, he does not look like Flannery. Gordon was immersed in the world of O’Connor by way of Dr. Bruce Gentry’s O’Connor class here at Georgia College. Gordon will provide information on O’Connor to the best of his ability and will be happy assisting you in your research so that you don’t feel like you were gored by a bull at the end of the day.

Kell Carpenter, Associate Director for Access Services, will assist scholars with access to library services while on campus. He and the Access Services staff will be ready to assist with use of the Library’s collection, Summer Scholars materials on reserve and evening/weekend access to resources.

 

 

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