College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Jay Watson to Deliver Annual Humanities Lecture

Jay Watson speaks at the opening of the Faulkner Books exhibit. Photo by Kevin Bain/ Communications

Jay Watson speaks at the opening of the Faulkner Books exhibit. Photo by Kevin Bain/Communications

OCTOBER 29, 2014  |  BY CHRISTINA STEUBE

Jay Watson, the Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and Professor of English at the University of Mississippi, has been named the university’s Humanities Teacher of the Year and will deliver an annual lecture Nov. 3 at Bondurant Auditorium.

Watson’s lecture, titled “William Faulkner on Speed: What the Humanities Can Teach Us about the Velocity and Tempo of Modern Life,” it will explore Faulkner and the phenomenon of modern speed. The 7 p.m. event is free and open to the public.

Faulkner’s works illustrate how the humanities can provide a window into meaningful social issues that link our era with earlier ones, Watson said. Though speed has taken new forms since Faulkner’s day, the social consequences and challenges of speed remain with us today, and many of those challenges can already be glimpsed in Faulkner’s novels and stories.

Watson added the topic directly ties into his research about Faulkner and tempo, noting that it demonstrates how the humanities can offer a window into some of these interesting social problems.

2014 lecture posterThe Humanities Teacher of the Year Award is given each October, which is National Arts and Humanities Month, to faculty members who make outstanding contributions to the humanities. The award is presented in the spring at the Mississippi Humanities Council’s awards ceremony.

Watson said he is honored to receive the award.

“It was an unexpected honor and a real delight, and it’s an award that brings with it a responsibility to stay focused on students and the classroom as the real intellectual and human center of the teaching life,” he said.

Watson is deserving of the award, said Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts.

“The Humanities Teacher of the Year Lecture is a celebration of the humanities,” Forgette said. “Professor Watson is being recognized for his outstanding work and significant contributions to teaching.”

Watson has been a member of the UM faculty for 25 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Georgia and his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in English and American literature and language from Harvard University. He is also the recipient of the 2012 Faculty Achievement Award and nominee for the SEC Faculty Achievement Award. His articles on Southern literature and humanities have been featured in several publications, including American Quarterly, American Literature and Modern Fiction Studies.

The event is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and the Mississippi Humanities Council.

The Mississippi Humanities Council sponsors, supports and conducts a range of public programs in traditional liberal arts disciplines designed to promote understanding of our cultural heritage, interpret our own experience, foster critical thinking, encourage reasonable public discourse, strengthen our sense of community and thus empower Mississippi’s people with a vision for the future.

The College of Liberal Arts is the university’s oldest and largest division.