Eudora Welty Society sessions - 2013 ALA , MAY 24-27, 2012
American Literature Association
May 24-27 2012
San Francisco, CA
One Writer's Secrets: Eudora Welty. Welty's fiction is full of secrets, familial and otherwise: what's in Aunt Studney's sack? why were Mama and Papa Beecham running away from home and children in the middle of the night? what is it that Katie Rainey doesn't want her husband to know at the end of "Shower of Gold"? Many of Welty's characters deliberately withhold information about themselves, perhaps even from themselves: Virgie Rainey, we're told, "had felt a moment in life after which nobody could see through her, into her." In another vein, scholars have long been intrigued by One Writer's Beginnings' numerous resonances with the autobiographical content of The Optimist's Daughter. The sudden astonishing availability of thousands of items of Welty's personal and professional correspondence raises the possibility that we may discover a lot more autobiographical content in the fiction if we read carefully enough and know how and where to look. The italicized narrative at the beginning of One Writer's Beginnings, for example, is a tantalizing, even if fictional, quintessence of autobiographical tease that suggests but may not fully reveal the triangulating domestic chemistry in the Welty household, and Welty's position in it. Is this a factual memory of her own childhood or a parable that both reveals and conceals something important about families? About herself? What's secret, here and elsewhere? What does Welty mean when she says in her memoir that "one secret is liable to be revealed in the place of another that is harder to tell"? This panel invites papers that explore the presence, function and meanings of secrets of all kinds in Welty's writing. How might a focus on such secrets lead us to deeper understanding of her life and work? Please send inquiries and statements of intent, as soon as possible, and titled paper proposals of 500 words by December 15, 2011 to Noel Polk at Nepolk@aol.com.