Eudora Welty International Conference

“‘That’s for the future to say’: Eudora Welty in the 21st Century”

Millsaps College

Jackson, Mississippi, April 10-12, 2025

The relationship between a text and its audiences is ever evolving. Noted for keenly evoking the past, Eudora Welty’s photographs and writings also signpost sensibilities and perspectives that transcend the author’s time. As Welty affirms in One Writer’s Beginnings, “time is . . . the continuous thread of revelation,” a statement signaling an artist’s ability to capture or reproduce the recursiveness of time. If we read the past to make sense of the present or to anticipate the future, how does Welty’s legacy as a 20th century artist translate to future formations of text? Observing in the essay “The Radiance of Jane Austen” the likelihood future readers will experience a different pleasure from that of past audiences, Welty asserts about fiction what could easily apply to all art: “The future of fiction is a mystery; it is like the future of ourselves.”

Having entered a new century of Welty studies, the Eudora Welty Society in partnership with Millsaps College invites presentations that explore futurist Welty, specifically her own pliable treatment of time as well as any putatively current topic, trend, event, or issue that eclipses the limits of Welty’s lifetime. To what extent has Welty already written or photographed the future? This call does not require papers to prove the prescience of Welty’s prose and pictures, although these discussions are certainly welcome. This conference seeks to examine what Welty’s creations continue to reveal about our past, present, and future selves.

While addressing the topic of future Welty, we look forward to new dispatches from the Welty archives as well as welcome fresh approaches on teaching Welty’s work, crucial to supporting future Welty readers. Other possible topics include but are not limited to reading The Golden Apples in the 21st century, Digital Welty, comparisons of Welty’s work with contemporary fine arts, media interactions like pulp and popular fiction, and theater/film adaptations. We also invite discussions of Welty’s treatment of education/educators, prisons/incarceration, civic unrest, children/child welfare, travel, disability, the elderly, race, gender, sexuality, environment/ecocriticism, historical events/narratives, international relations, science/technology, war, class, and humor/comedy. In addition, the issue of influence, on and by Welty, such as her impact on the Mississippi Renaissance writers (Lewis Nordan, Natasha Trethewey, Jesmyn Ward, etc.) are welcome. For these topics, presenters might ask: how is Welty’s work conversant with 20th/21st century writers and artists as well as past luminaries? In general, the conference asks for 21st century presentations and discussions of Welty’s 20th century productions.

Panel and Roundtable Proposals: These should be sent to Michael Pickard (pickawm@millsaps.edu), Harriet Pollack (pollackh@cofc.edu), and Rebecca Harrison (rharriso@westga.edu) by October 15, 2024. More information will be posted soon on the Eudora Welty Society website and Facebook page.