Thanks for a Great Symposium... See You Next Year!

Thanks to all who made the 28th Annual Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium a success!

Thank you to the Robert M. Hearin Foundation, Dr. Borsig, Dr. Richardson, the Department of Languages, Literature and Philosophy, the Department of Music, University Relations, Resources Management, Sodexo, the MUW Foundation, the MUW Book End, our authors, our audience, and everyone else involved.

Photos of this year's Symposium by Chris Jenkins

Video of Welty Prize Winner, Patricia Boyett by Steve Yates


See You Next Year, October 19-21, 2017


Brad Watson Returns as Keynote Author

Novelist Brad Watson returns as the keynote speaker at the 28th annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium, Oct. 20-22, reading from his new novel, Miss Jane. Watson is the author of short story collections Last Days of the Dog Men and Aliens in the Prime of Their Lives as well the novel The Heaven of Mercury, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Miss Jane is loosely based on the story of Watson’s great-aunt, who had a rare birth defect that left her unable to bear children, incontinent, and ill-suited for marriage. Set in rural 1920s Mississippi, the novel surrounds its main character with the lushly fecund natural world, even as she is defined as “barren” and lives a mostly solitary existence.

Kirkus Reviews calls the novel “A well-written portrait of a person whose rich inner life outstrips the limits of her body,” arguing the Watson’s dry writing “captures the simple things that bring his character joy.”

With its exploration of deep family secrets, Miss Jane is a fitting starting point for this year’s symposium theme, "Overcoming the Silence: To speak out when 'It warrants no stir.'" The theme is taken from Eudora Welty's story "The Demonstrators," which was published in The New Yorker in 1966 and appears in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty.

Other writers who will participate in the symposium include: Dana Carpenter (Bohemian Gospel), Becky Hagenston (Scavengers), Randall Horton (Hook: A Memoir), Richard Lyons (Un Poco Loco), Cole Lavalais (Summer of the Cicadas), David Armand (My Mother’s House), James Kimbrell (Smote), Paulette Boudreaux (Mulberry), Sandar Meek (An Ecology of Elsewhere).

Along with the published authors, The W will welcome five high school students, winners of the 2nd annual Eudora Welty Ephemera Prize for fiction, essay or poetry. The selected students will be invited to read their work and have lunch with the authors.

All symposium events will be held on the Mississippi University for Women campus and are free and open to the public. The symposium is made possible through the generous support of the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation. For more information, see the Symposium website http://www.muw.edu/welty.

Mark your calendars for October 20-22, 2016

This year's Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium is planned for October 20-22, 2016. Our theme will be "Overcoming the Silence: To speak out when "'It warrants no stir.'"

The theme is taken from Eudora Welty's story "The Demonstrators," which was published in The New Yorker in 1966 and appears in The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. It is a story about a double-homicide, the truth of which is never fully revealed. Though the newspaper article within the story claims the two African American lovers killed each other with an ice pick, there are many clues to indicate more might be going on. The Mayor quickly asserts of the crime "It warrants no stir," claiming that it did not "carry racial significance" since "no outside agitators were involved." One of the murder victims was found covered in cotton seed, yet the article explicitly states there was no trouble at the mill. Cotton is also mentioned as part of another lie told (and published) in the story. Even the title suggests more than a lover's domestic dispute, yet no one will speak up and reveal the truth, not even the doctor who heard the murdered man's last words, "Hide me."

Our theme this year also complements the W's commemoration of 50 years since the school was integrated and the "Those Who Dared" project conducted by students and faculty from the Department of History, Geography, and Political Science to explore the archives, collect oral histories, and give a voice to stories that have long been silent. Civil rights and integration are prominent in Welty's story and in the theme; writers whose work deals with these issues and with other contemporary issues that often are silenced will soon be invited. Check back over the summer to see how the program develops!