Startling Figures overview
The conference title "Startling Figures" comes from a line in Flannery O'Connor's essay "The Fiction Writer and His Country" in which she explains why she writes the way she does: "When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock-to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures" (Mystery and Manners, p. 34).
As always, O'Connor challenges her readers here with the promise that her writings conflict with our beliefs. The 2011 O'Connor conference at Georgia College & State University promises to be fascinatingly startling as it investigates new ways to read O'Connor's works, her connections to other writers of her time and ours, and other aspects of O'Connor's relevance to our lives. Writers, scholars, artists, and musicians will gather in Milledgeville to debate and celebrate O'Connor's life and works. A good time will be had by all.
Flannery O'Connor is Georgia College's most famous graduate: she earned her bachelor's degree in 1945 at what was then Georgia State College for Women, and her family's donation of the world's largest collection of O'Connor-related materials has made Georgia College known throughout the world. Georgia College is located very close to Andalusia, the farm (and now literary tourism site) where O'Connor completed all of her major writings. The 2011 conference is part of Georgia College's ongoing tribute to the artistic genius of Flannery O'Connor.
Georgia College has hosted three previous conferences in this century (2002, 2006 and 2008) on O'Connor and her works, as well as earlier conferences. The conference is organized by the Flannery O'Connor Studies Program directed by Dr. Bruce Gentry, professor of English.