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Call for Papers: Faulkner and Material Culture

July 31, 2003

The 31st Annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference:
“ Faulkner and Material Culture”
July 25-29, 2004

The aim of cultural studies is to situate the literary text within the multivaried phenomena of cultural context. It is to see the text not so much as a unique object, somehow separate from its socio/political/economic origins, but as touching every level of the cultural fabric within which it was created. As Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt have written, the task of cultural criticism is “finding the creative power that shapes literary works outside the narrow boundaries in which it had hitherto been located, as well as within those boundaries.”

While we often think of culture, both “high” and “low,” in terms of the creations of language–from lyric poetry to locker-room limericks, the visual arts—from Old Master paintings to subway graffiti, and music—from string quartets to rap, perhaps most abundant and having the most bearing on how we live (and what we create) is the material world we often do not see in “cultural” terms, because we are so deeply embedded in it. This is the material way of our lives, our homes, our clothes, our transportation, our work, our sport, our food and drink. Each is a source of creative power and each is itself a product of such power.

The world of Faulkner’s fiction is a world of material abundance, intensified for readers by its relationship to the real world in which Faulkner lived and wrote and which he “translated” into “Yoknapatawpha.” The 2004 Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference will explore Faulkner’s material world in its fictional and historical manifestations. Consider, for example, the significance of houses in Faulkner, from the Rowan Oak estate, which he renovated and lived in for 30 years, to the homes of Sutpen and McCaslin, McCallum and Bundren. Or the importance of costume for this writer, who alternately presented himself in the “dandy” garb of “Count No ‘Count” and the aristocratic hunting dress of Virginia, and described meticulously the strangely contradictory clothing of Joe Christmas: trousers soiled but sharply creased, shirt soiled but white, “and he wore a tie and a stiffbrim straw hat that was quite new, cocked at an angle arrogant and baleful above his still face.”

What do these material concerns tell us about Faulkner and his fiction? What is the work and play of men and women in his world? What does it mean to be a planter or a sharecropper, a horse-trader or spinner of tales? How do we read the “shards of pottery and broken bottles and old brick” surrounding the graves in “Pantaloon in Black,” the “hog-bone with blood meat still on it” in “That Evening Sun,” the “graphophone” that is the culminating prize at the end of the journey in As I Lay Dying?

We are inviting both 50-minute plenary addresses and 15-minute papers for this conference. Plenary papers consist of approximately 6,000 words and will be published by the University Press of Mississippi. Conference papers consist of approximately 2,500 words and will be delivered at panel sessions.

For plenary papers the 14th edition of the University of Chicago Manual of Style should be used as a guide in preparing manuscripts. Three copies of manuscripts must be submitted by January 15, 2004. Notification of selection will be made by March 1, 2004. Authors whose papers are selected for presentation at the conference and publication will receive (1) a waiver of the conference registration fee and (2) lodging at the University Alumni House from Saturday, July 24, through Thursday, July 29.

For short papers, three copies of two-page abstracts must be submitted by January 15, 2004. Notification will be made by March 1, 2004. Authors whose papers are selected for panel presentation will receive a waiver of the $275 conference registration fee.

All manuscripts and inquiries should be addressed to Donald Kartiganer, Department of English, The University of Mississippi, University, MS 38677. Telephone: 662-915-5793, e-mail: dkartiga@olemiss.edu. Panel abstracts may be sent by e-mail attachment; plenary manuscripts shouldonly be sent by conventional mail.


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