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College of Liberal Arts
University of Mississippi

William Winter Scholars and Others Represent UM at Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration

Highlighting literature, history, film, and culture

The Honorable Governor William Winter served as Director of Proceedings for the Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration for 27 years. Photo by Nathan Latil/UM Digital Imaging Services

The late Honorable Governor William Winter served as Director of Proceedings for the Natchez Literary & Cinema Celebration for 27 years. Photo by Nathan Latil/UM Digital Imaging Services


University of Mississippi professors, students, and alumni will be recognized at the 34th annual Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration on February 23–24.

Latrice Johnson

Latrice Johnson

Latrice Johnson, an English and gender studies master’s student, and Eva Payne, an assistant professor of history, are UM’s selected 2023 William Winter Scholars for what has been called “Mississippi’s most significant annual conference devoted to literature, history, film, and culture.”

Jodi Skipper, associate professor of anthropology and Southern Studies, is one of the country’s eminent writers and scholars featured on the Natchez program.

Eva Payne

Eva Payne

Payne, an historian of the 19th- and 20th-century United States with a focus on gender and sexuality, codirects Invisible Histories—Mississippi, a Mellon Foundation-funded project documenting and preserving the state’s LGBTQ+ history through oral histories and archival collecting.

“I’m honored to be named one of this year’s William Winter Scholars for the 34th Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration,” said Payne, who joined UM’s faculty in 2017 after a Loeb Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Committee on the Study of Religion at Harvard University. “The program is full of fascinating scholars, writers, and filmmakers, and I’m particularly excited to attend my UM colleague Dr. Jodi Skipper’s panel.”

Jodi Skipper

Jodi Skipper

Skipper, author of Behind the Big House: Reconciling Slavery, Race, and Heritage in the U.S. South, said, “For my event titled ‘Changing the Narrative and Telling a More Complete Story,’ Southern Studies graduate and scholar on race and memory, Dr. Elizabeth Bronwyn Boyd, and I will discuss cultural heritage tourism in Mississippi and the opportunities and challenges to representing the history of slavery in the present. Roscoe Barnes III, cultural heritage tourism manager for Visit Natchez, will moderate the panel.”

Interested in American literature, African American literature and culture, and Black feminism, Johnson wrote an entry on “Anderson, James Craig, Murder of” for UM’s award-winning Mississippi Encyclopedia and is writing the book chapter “Depictions of the (Black) Southern Belle on Reality Television” for The Living Legacy of African American Studies: Its Past, Present, and Future(s) at University of Georgia Press.

“I am honored to join such a prestigious group and to be a 2023 William Winter Scholar,” said Johnson, a John Smartt Summer Scholar for the Rutgers Center for Minority Serving Institutions, who presented “#BlackInTheIvory: On Being Black in Higher Education” at UM’s Forum on Race and Ethnicity.

“I look forward to learning from and networking with outstanding humanities scholars from across the state.”

Each year Mississippi students and faculty are chosen to be William Winter Scholars at the conference in honor of the late Governor from 1980 to 1984. Known as the “Education Governor of Mississippi,” UM alumnus Winter (BA history and political science 43, LLB 49) served as the Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration Director of Proceedings from its founding in 1990 through 2017.

Donald Dyer, associate dean for faculty and academic affairs for the University of Mississippi College of Liberal Arts and distinguished professor of modern languages, encourages faculty, staff, and alumni to join the UM representatives at the event.

“This year’s Natchez Celebration looks to be, once again, an exciting and important gathering of students, faculty and scholars interested in literature, history and film. The College of Liberal Arts is proud to send Dr. Payne and Ms. Johnson as representatives from our university,” Dyer said. “They were selected enthusiastically by a committee of faculty and staff to participate in the conference.”

Free and open to the public, the event at the Natchez Convention Center is cosponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the City of Natchez, Adams County Board of Supervisors, Visit Natchez, Mississippi Arts Commission, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi Humanities Council, National Park Service, and the generous contributions of individuals and businesses throughout the state and region.