College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

36th Annual Faulkner Conference to Consider Author’s Fascination with Mystery

One author, six novels, five days, infinite insights and fun. That’s what participants can expect during the 36th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference scheduled July 19-23 at the University of Mississippi. This year’s theme title is “Faulkner and Mystery.”

“This Prince of High Modernism (William Faulkner) had an apparent fascination with the techniques of mystery writing,” said Donald Kartiganer, UM’s Howry Chair in Faulkner Studies and professor of English. “Scholars will discuss the whodunits, the violence and legal machinations, the unresolved puzzles of identity and motive for murder found in six of Faulkner’s best-known novels.”

The novels to be highlighted are “Sanctuary,” “Light in August,” “Go Down, Moses,” “Intruder in the Dust,” “Absalom, Absalom!” and “Requiem for a Nun.” “Knight’s Gambit,” a collection of legal-thriller short stories, will also be examined.

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First-time Faulkner Conference presenters are Hosam Aboul-Ela of the University of Houston, Michael Gorra of Smith College and Sean McCann of Wesleyan University. Returning scholars include Susan Donaldson of the College of William and Mary, Richard Godden of the University of California-Irvine, Noel Polk (retired) of Mississippi State University and Philip Weinstein of Swarthmore College.

 Additional speakers and panelists will be selected from the “Call for Papers” competition. Besides the scholarly presentations, a panel of fiction writers will discuss possible relationships between Faulkner’s work and their own crime novels. Panelists include Ace Atkins, Jere Hoar and Daniel Woodrell.

“One of the benefits of approaching Faulkner’s work through the perspective of mystery is that it increases the range of critical speculation to cover not only the standard texts but some of those less-often studied,” said Ann Abadie, associate director of UM’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.

Other conference events include sessions on “Teaching Faulkner,” screening of the film “The Story of Temple Drake” (adapted from “Sanctuary”) and the discussion “Collecting Faulkner.”         

Conference-related offerings include an exhibition of Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia at the J.D. Williams Library; daylong tours of northeast Mississippi; a picnic at Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak; and “Faulkner on the Fringe,” an open mike evening at Southside Gallery in downtown Oxford.

Discount fees for the conference are available for groups of five or more students. Contact Robert Fox at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it for details. There is also a limited number of fee waivers for graduate students. Contact Kartiganer at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it for details.