Of all the writers to come out of “the Southern Renaissance” in the early part of this century, William Faulkner stands as first and foremost, even though many of his works were out of print at the time he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950.This fall marks the centennary of the Mississippian’s birth, one that came just a year after the Supreme Court placed an official seal on the “separate but equal” doctorine, enunciated in Plessy V.Ferguson, thus ensuring the American dilemma would long endure. It was a dilemma destined to be part and parcel of Faulkner’s work, particularly in three novels produced between 1932 and 1942, long before the coming of Brown and Martin Luther King, Jr. These novels—Light in August, 1932; Absalom, Absalom, 1936; and Go Down Moses,1942—all, in the words of Edwin M. Yoder, Jr. “quite explicitly address the tragic dilemma of race.”
A native of North Carolina, Mr. Yoder has himself devoted much of his prolific career to examining and combating the persistence of American racism. A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he went on to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar, and then began a distinguished career as a journalist serving as a an editorial writer in Greensboro, NC before moving to the Washington Evening Star where he received a Pulitzer Prize in 1979.He is also a professor of journalism and humanities at Washington & Lee University. He is the author of several books, the latest being The Historical Present: Uses and Abuses of the Past, published by Mississippi in July. In this book, Mr.Yoder explores the American resistance to the study of history noting that Americans avoid it, in part, because they have been fortunate to escape the catastrophies that have overtaken other cultures.
With the coming of the Internet, E-mail, the fax, and all the other communications gimmiery produced by the brave new world of Bill Gates and company, there are those who wonder about the future of solitary reading and the appreciation of literature, which Alexander Burnham finds is “near rock bottom.” According to Mr. Burnham what excites college students today is movies, “whether emanating from large theater screens or all-day, all-night television tubes.” Thus, Mr. Burnham proposes to create a college course called “Cinema Lit” and he outlines that course in his essay.
Alexander Burnham spent 40 years in journalism, serving as a staff reporter and editor with The New York Times and The Associated Press. He was also editor of The Washington Book Review and managing editor of the New York publisher, Dodd, Mead and Company. He is presently choosing and editing an anthology of essays that have appeared in 75 volumes of this quarterly since its founding in 1925.
Making his debut as a VQR writer, Doran Larson is an assistant professor in the Division of English Classics and Philosophy at the University of Texas - San Antonio. He received his Ph. D.from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a dissertation on narrative theory and the novel. His stories have appeared in The Iowa Review, Boulevard, and Other Voices. His second novel, Marginalia, was published this year by the Permanent Press. His VQR story, “Morphine” is the first part of the title novella in a story collection, Regions of the Here.
A native of Arkansas, Bill Berry is provost and a member of the history department at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway. He also conducts an annual conference every spring on American autobiography at Central Arkansas. He earned his Ph. D.in history from Princeton University, and his essays and reviews have appeared in The Journal of Southern History, Arkansas Times Magazine, Sewanee Review, and elsewhere.
Karen Heuler resides in New York’s Greenwich Village. Her fiction has appeared in a wide variety of magazines and journals, including Massachusetts Review, TriQuarterly, and Ms. Her first collection of short stories, The Other Door, was published in 1995 by the University of Missouri Press.
A native of Australia, George Watson is a fellow of St. John’s College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Literary Critics, Politics and Literature in Modern Britain, and Writing a Thesis. He has been a visiting professor of English at New York University and the University of Georgia. In addition to VQR, he is a long-time contributor to The Hudson Review.
Patricia Gosling received her B. A. degree in English from Northwestern University. She recently earned a doctorate in chemistry at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, where she currently lives and works as a freelance science writer/editor. Thus, her VQR story “Exiles” is about an American living abroad.
Charles H. Webb teaches at California State University in Long Beach. His poems have appeared in The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, Harvard Review, Paris Review, and American Poetry Review. He is the editor of Stand Up Poetry: The Anthology. His book Reading by the Water won the 1997 Morse Poetry Prize and will be published by Northeastern Univ. Press.
A resident of New York City, Pat Mangan has published poems in The Iowa Review and two issues of TriQuarterly magazine.
John Skoyles directs the Writing Program at Emerson College in Boston. One collection, The Smokey Mountain Cage Bird Society and Other Magical Tales, was published by Kodansha Press. His latest collection is scheduled to appear from Carnegie Mellon later this year.
D. Nurkse is the recipient of 1984 and 1995 NEA poetry fellowships. He was one of the 1990 winners of the prestigious Whiting Writers Award. His latest book, Voices Over Water, was published by Graywolf and re-issued by Four Way Books.
Nin Andrews has published poems in many reviews including Paris Review, Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, Chelsea, and Denver Quarterly.
Eleanor Ross Taylor is among America’s most distinguished poets. Her New and Selected Poems was published by Palaemon Press and Utah published Days Going, Days Coming Back in 1991.
The son of Eleanor Ross Taylor, Ross TAYLOR has appeared previously in VQR. He works for a law library in Washington DC and lives in Northern Virginia.
Alan Williamson teaches at the University of California in Davis. He is both a critic and a poet. His most recent collection of poetry, Love and the Soul, was published by Chicago in its Phoenix Poets series.
In his annual poetry chronicle, Peter Harris this year examines why so much contemporary poetry “is just too inaccessible, too damned difficult.” He then goes on to cite three poets whose works are an exception to this norm. Mr. Harris is a member of the faculty in the English department at Colby College in Maine. Last year, he won the Maine Chapbook Competition for a book of poems called Blue Hallelujahs.
A writer, editor, and consultant in Chicago, Michelle Bobier recently completed teaching a course in personal essay and memoir writing at North Park College where she sometimes serves as a temporary/adjunct/ad hoc member of the English faculty. She spent part of the summer of 1996 in Vermont at the Bennington Summer Writing Workshops, fiction division. The story she used as her writing sample for her Bennington application was “The Nests of Hummingbirds,” appearing in this issue of VQR. Ms.Bobier has published essays and fiction in Bellowing Ark and The American Scholar as well as VQR.
University Professor and John B. Minor Professor of Law and History at the University of Virginia, G. Edward White has a Ph. D.in American Studies from Yale University as well as a J.D.from Harvard Law School. He served as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren, and later wrote a biography of Mr. Warren. His other books include a biography of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes and a volume on the Marshall Court in the Holmes Devise History of the Supreme Court of the U.S.His ill-fated journey from Victoria Falls was made last year on the occasion of his 30th wedding anniversary.
Walter Sullivan has long been a professor of English at Vanderbilt University, the alma mater of Robert Penn Warren, whose life he discusses in his review of Joseph Blotner’s biography of Warren. A student of Southern literature, Mr. Sullivan is a frequent contributor to The Sewanee Review, where his tribute to Agarian Donald Davey appeared in the winter 1996 issue.
After receiving a Ph. D. degree in history from the University of Virginia, John Kneebone joined the staff of the Library of Virginia in Richmond and is now director of publications and educational services there. He is also an editor of the forthcoming Dictionary of Virginia Biography.
Tucker Carrington, a native of Richmond, received his B.A.degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1989 and an M.F.A. degree in fiction from Hollins College in 1990. After teaching at a prep school in Chattanooga, TN, he decided to go to law school, and he received his J.D.degree from the University of Tennessee this past spring. He is now on a fellowship in Washington, D.C.as a member of the Georgetown University Law School.
Stephen J. Whitfield is professor of American Studies at Brandeis University and the author of A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till, and A Critical American: The Politics of Dwight MacDonald.
A native Pennsylvanian, Sanford Pinsker received his B.A.degree from Washington Jefferson College in 1963 and his Ph. D.from the University of Wasington in 1967, the year he returned to his native state to join the English faculty at Franklin & Marshall College where he is a professor of English. He has also been a Fulbright Senior Lecturer in Belgium and Spain and is the author of such books as The Languages of Joseph Conrad, Still Life and Other Poems, and Philip Roth: Critical Essays.
Thomas Filibin’s book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Boston Globe, and The Hudson Review. He lives in Massachusetts.
Cover picture credit: University Relations Department at the University of Virginia.
A National Journal of Literature and Discussion published since 1925 in January, April, July, and October. Individual subscriptions $18.00 one year, $25.00 two years, $33.00 three years; Institutions $22.00 one year, $30.00 two years, $50.00 three years. Outside U.S. (individual and institution) add $6.00 per year. Single copies $5.00 each. Title page and annual index available in November. The journal is distributed by B. DeBoer Inc. and Ubiquity Distributors.
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