Welty Society Minutes – SSSL Conference – Austin, Texas, February 2018
Harriet Pollack, President Adrienne Akins Warfield, Treasurer Jacob Agner
Mae Miller Claxton
Carol Ann Johnston
Laura Sloan Patterson
1. Harriet opened the meeting by thanking everyone for attending this business lunch, convened to take advantage of our especially good numbers at SSSL 2018.
2. She offered special thanks to Julia Eichelberger, for her administration of and service to Welty Society, 2014-2017.
3. We then toasted and celebrated the publication of Teaching Welty in the 21st Century, edited by Claxton and Eichelberger.
4. By way of introduction, everyone present spoke their name and also shared news of current Welty projects they are working on
5. Then Harriet invited discussion of a next Welty Conference – When, Where, Who–– and of longer term planning for conferences:
a. Pearl suggests EWS meetings should be in the years when the biannual SSSL conference does not meet.
b. Similarly we should avoid conflicts with regional MLA conferences (SAMLA, SCMLA, etc.)
c. Rebecca proposes we select destination locations that will appeal to members: Charleston, New Orleans, New York, Chicago, San Francisco?
d. She mentions too that to choose New Orleans next would be difficult timing because of her new administrative responsibilities at Tulane.
e. Julia asks us to consider a writing retreat model vs. a conference model
f. Pearl suggests a conference where all papers respond to a single text (for example, Losing Battles), which could then lead into a published collection of essays on that text
g. Tom recalls that Natasha Trethewey and her historian husband are now at Northwestern University, and they might be a connection to Chicago
h. We discuss the goal of bringing Welty to places where she’s misconstrued
i. We discuss the possibilities of a conference theme rather than focus on a particular text
j. Jill Fennell raises a question about integrating a service component – educating high school teachers, CEU hours
k. Pearl asks if we have ever tried to get a Welty title on The Big Read ––which Welty text would best work for this?
l. Dawn calls for an unofficial vote on city possibilities – Jackson, New Orleans, or Charleston – Charleston wins the unofficial vote of cities where meeting attendees would be most likely to attend a Welty conference. New Orleans is second.
m. Julia asks, what would draw you to a Welty conference if you don’t always work on Welty?
n. Can we get access to some free space at College of Charleston – a question to be investigated by Harriet and Julia
o. Carol Ann Johnston brings up the possibility of proposing a Harvard commemoration of the 35th anniversary the Massey Lecture Series that had Welty as its inaugural speaker
p. Sarah Ford suggests that One Writer’s Beginnings, the publication that came from that series, could be the key text for such a conference, possibly along with Welty’s other non-fiction
q. Pearl asks, what if we paired One Writer’s Beginnings and The Optimist’s Daughter?
r. Thinking of co-hosts, we might also talk to Michael Kreyling about the Library of American Welty connection
s. Similarly, we might talk to UP of Mississippi about being a cosponsor
t. Since The New Yorker was the original publication venue of The Optimist’s Daughter, we might pursue that connection. Harriet recalls that we’ve had some previous discussion of a conference centered on Welty’s New York connections, in New York.
u. Now that we have so many good ideas, Pearl asks what our timeline is for a decision about when/where our next Welty conference will be held.
v. Harriet will investigate College of Charleston and Harvard co-hosting possibilities and report back via the listserve ahead of our ALA business meeting, where we might firm up out plan.
6. The following EWS members express interest in serving on the Program Committee for the next Welty Conference, once we have a location determined: Sophia Leonard, Rebecca Harrison, Michael Pickard, Pearl McHaney, Rebecca Mark, David McWhirter, Mae Claxton. Others interested should contact Harriet.
7. Briefly discussing other business, Harriet asks that panel ideas for the next year’s scheduled meeting should be sent to Harriet before May 20 ( for ALA), to Sara Peters (for SCMLA), or to Jill Fennell (for SAMLA)
Thanks to Adrienne Akins Warfield, Treasurer, for taking such good notes on the meeting!