Several William Faulkner novels and short stories were made into poignant feature films, but – unknown to many – the Nobel Prize-winning author also wrote screenplays for Hollywood.
“During the 1930s and 40s, Faulkner did several tours of duty in Hollywood of varying length as a screenwriter,” said Donald Kartiganer, director of the 37th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference, scheduled for July 18-22 at the University of Mississippi. “Introduction of the ‘talkies’ caused the film industry to bring in established writers, such as William Faulkner, to write for film.”
Participants will view and discuss nine of these motion pictures at the conference, which is organized this year around the theme “Faulkner and Film.” The Faulkner films to be shown are “The Road to Glory,” a Russian film entitled “The Leg,” “Sanctuary” (including “Requiem for a Nun”), “Two Soldiers,” “Barn Burning,” “Tomorrow,””Old Man,” “The Tarnished Angels” (based on “Pylon”) and “A Rose for Emily,” said Kartiganer, who is also the Howry Chair of Faulkner Studies emeritus.
“The transference from words on a page to images and dialogue for film is a very complicated process,” Kartiganer said. “As a matter of fact, the transference occasionally worked in the opposite direction, as Faulkner seems to have drawn on his screenplay experience for some of his own novel-writing techniques.”
The schedule also features daylong tours of northeast Mississippi, and a picnic at Rowan Oak, Faulkner’s home. The geography and culture that surrounded Faulkner found their way into much of his writing for both film and fiction.
“From scholars who have studied and analyzed his writing to casual readers who enjoy his content, people frequently find themselves even more interested in Faulkner after having visited his home and places he frequented,” Kartiganer said.
“Many people who come to the conference have come to the house before, so each year I try to keep something new on display especially for them,” said William “Bill” Griffith, Rowan Oak curator. “Everyone is generally in a very good mood and very happy to be there.”
Appearing for the first time at the conference will be Lee Caplin, a film producer and exclusive representative of the Literary Estate of Faulkner. Caplin produced “Two Soldiers” and will offer commentary on the film at the meeting.
Other scholars making their first conference appearance include Brian Crane of Champlain College; Phillip Davis of the University of Tulsa; Ivan Delazari of St. Petersburg State University in Russia; Michael Holgate and Aaron Nyerges of the University of Sydney; Robert Jackson and Stephen Railton of the University of Virginia; Julian Murphet and Stefan Solomon of the University of New South Wales; Riché Richardson of Cornell University; Allison Rittmayer of the University of Florida; and Deighton Zerby of Louisiana State University.
Returning scholars include Deborah Barker of Ole Miss; Robert Hamblin of Missouri State University; Peter Lurie of the University of Richmond; Matthew Ramsey of Salve Regina University; Matthew Sutton of the College of William and Mary; and Randall Shawn Wilhelm of the University of Tennessee.
Complementing the lectures, panels and films, the UM Museum will exhibit paintings by Mitchell Alan Wright of Laurel. The works in the series were inspired by Faulkner’s short story “Barn Burning.”
Other program events are sessions on “Teaching Faulkner”; a discussion of “Collecting Faulkner”; an exhibition of Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia at the John Davis Williams Library; and “Faulkner on the Fringe,” an “open mic” evening at the Southside Gallery.
For more information on the program, registration, course credit, accommodations and travel, visit www.outreach.olemiss.edu/events/faulkner/