2019 Meeting minutes

Minutes for Eudora Welty Society Business Meeting, May 24, 2019

Officers present: Harriet Pollack, President; Annette Trefzer, Vice President.

Members in attendance: Nathan Dixon, Julia Eichelberger, Katie Frye, Carol Ann Johnston, Zhihuan Liu, Rebecca Mark, Jennifer Peedin, Margaret Pless.


1) Jay Watson, director of annual Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference, visited to discuss with us the possibility of a joint “Faulkner, Welty, Wright” Yoknapatawpha Conference in 2021.

Jay explained the conference format. It is a four-day conference beginning on a Sunday, able to accommodate 45 scholars on plenary sessions. Typically, there is one keynote speaker each day, and numerous plenary panels. Some concurrent sessions. The last day is a tour day, which people can opt out of if they can’t stay. Plenty of opportunities for socializing and informal conversation. The conference audience usually includes scholarly and popular audiences. It results in an edited volume published by UP of Mississippi.

Jay asked for our input. He and Annette say it is a very welcoming and supportive conference. Sessions on pedagogy are always included. We discussed possibility of adding another woman writer such as Margaret Walker Alexander. Jay invited EWS members to come this summer to see how the conference operates. He could waive the registration fee for a few Welty Society members who want to attend.

*Our CFP will need to be ready to go out January 31, 2020 for the July conference 2021. Plan is now to contact Wright scholars and see if they might come on board––and have a follow-up discussion at SSSL.

2) Isadora Wagner, President of the Carson McCullers Society, contacted us and the presidents of the O’Connor, Porter, Walker, and Chopin Societies about a possible panel series on southern modernist women writers at these or other conferences in 2020-2021: MSA 2020 (Brooklyn, NY); SSSL 2020 (Fayetteville, AR); ALA 2020 (San Diego); MLA 2021 (Toronto).

Here are her two cfps to follow up:

Modernist Studies Association Conference, Brooklyn, NY, October 22-25, 2020

The Carson McCullers Society is soliciting abstracts for a two-part roundtable series on southern modernist women writers and the topographies of the street. This two-part series goes with the MSA 2020 conference theme of “the street” and is intended to spark conversation and collaboration among Welty, O’Connor, McCullers, Porter, Petrie, Chopin, and Hurston scholars, among others, about the innovations and interventions of southern modernist women writers in creating street scenes, situations, and characters. Interested parties should send a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio to Isadora Wagner, Carson McCullers Society President, at isadora.wagner@westpoint.edu by January 15, 2020.

Society for the Study of Southern Literature, Fayetteville, AR, April 2-5, 2020 In conjunction with the 2020 biennial SSSL conference theme of “how borders, binaries, and bars operate in lived experience as well as intellectual practice,” the Carson McCullers Society invites abstracts for two panels on the topic of the borderless south: one examining immigration themes in McCullers’ works, and the other, the role of national and international media like newspapers and radio broadcasts in the works of McCullers and her contemporaries. Papers that work comparatively between McCullers and other southern modernist writers are highly encouraged. If interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio by October 1st, 2019, to Isadora Wagner, at isadora.wagner@westpoint.edu.

3) From Susan Wood and Ren Denton regarding EWS on Twitter

Susan Wood and Ren Denton are chairing the Welty Society panel at SAMLA this fall. Susan writes that she’s “seen tweets from the Shakespeare conference (#Shax2019–– panels had their own hashtags as well (#ShakeRace, #NextGenPlen, #ShaxAndTheLivingWage, #WhereforeEcofeminism).” They ask if the society might agree on one hashtag to use for every panel it sponsors across conferences, like #WeltySociety, or one specifically for each conference, like #WeltySAMLA or #WeltySSSL.

We discussed twitter handles: #WeltySociety had support. #Eudora, we discovered, is in use with reference to the Kansas town with that name. Opinion was to have at least 2 handles: #WeltySociety and #EudoraEWS as well as conference specifics ones such as #WeltySAMLA and #WeltySSSL.

In the advisory board discussion that followed the meeting, there was concern to discourage the situation in which a speaker looks out at audience members who are on their cell phones. Chairs should ask audiences to refrain from live-tweeting during a session.

Harriet Pollack suggested she start an EWS Facebook group––closed group with moderators resembling the Society for The Study of Southern Literature group page––as an alternate way to post news. That group page is now under construction and Harriet will be inviting membership in the weeks to come.

4) Regarding Welty and Teaching Initiatives, we heard from Annette Trefzer and Julia Eichelberger:

A suggestion was made to form a committee on teaching resources for high school teachers who need Welty books for classes but lack the means to purchase them. EWS members not present whom we think may be interested in organizing such an effort include Mae Claxton, Rebecca Harrison, Pearl McHaney, Margaret Pless, and Peter Schmidt. Harriet will ask if they are willing to spearhead efforts to

(a) raise funds to make Welty texts available to teachers who don’t have them available. Rebecca Mark suggested that teachers in the Jackson, MS area should especially have access to such texts. She suggested looking into a Jackson Reads program.

(b) to collect, curate, and share online teaching resources such as those showcased at the panel in Charleston. Possible platforms for offering teaching materials include Mae

Claxton’s website created in conjunction with Approaches to Teaching at Western Carolina U; the Welty Foundation Website, and the Welty Society Website (managed by Sarah Ford). Harriet says the Archive will be digitizing new materials for teachers with their recent NEH grant. Regardless of platform, it was considered essential that submissions be vetted by an EWS committee for correctness and usefulness.

5) Discussion about topics for our panels in 2020 at Society for the Study of Southern Literature and at the American Literature Association meetings followed.

Topic suggestions sent in by society members ahead of the meeting were these: Welty & disability, eco-critical Welty, Welty and time, Welty and mapping/space, Welty and Speculative Souths/Other Souths, Welty and #MeTo, Welty in popular culture, popular culture in Welty, Welty and Genre.

A suggestion Harriet Pollack added: Welty and the new (southern?) renaissance––esp. those writers who refer to her in her work––say, Ward, Trethewey, Laymon, Kingsolver, Erdrich––but also those with whom there are possible points of connection: Whitehead, Adichie, Tayari Jones, Jill McCorkle, etc, etc. Alternate version suggested: Welty and the new Mississippi renaissance: Ward, Trethewey, Laymon, Thomas, etc.

Society members added to these topics and firmed up the following choices for Welty sessions at SSSL and ALA in 2020:

Panels for SSSL in Fayetteville, Arkansas: SSSL’S GENERAL theme will be BEYOND BORDERS, BARS, AND BINARIES: Rethinking “South” in an Age of Crisis.

-Radical Welty – Rebecca Mark will write the CFP.

-Welty and the New (Southern?) Renaissance – See above. Harriet Pollack to further develop the CFP.

For ALA in San Diego:

-Welty and the Body – approaches to sexual, medical and disability discourses in her fiction–– gendered and racialized, living and dead bodies. How does she represent gargantuan, grotesque, ugly, beautiful, and queer bodies? How does she approach material, economic, and ecological bodies? The body as a site of memory, trauma, healing, and imagination? The body as a site of eros, affection, desire? Welty and #MeToo. Annette Trefzer to forward CFP.

-Welty, Modernism, Media – to grow a future volume on the topic. This panel will investigate Welty’s work (defined as her fiction, as her photography, &/or as her modernism) and its interactions with multi-media influences such as advertising, film, journalism, magazine culture, music, photography, pulp fiction, radio, theater, television––that is to say, with all forms of media influence and interaction. Harriet Pollack to submit the CFP.