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Spring 2014 Books & Film Class Topic – Faulkner & Flannery: Exploring the Southern Gothic Held Wednesdays through February 26 at UL Lafayette Instructor: Dr. Mary Ann Wilson This is the final set of class notes on this topic.  In the final class, we watched John Huston's 1979 film version of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood. Reading the book wasn't required and the movie can stand alone, but Wise Blood is a wacky story and a must-read for any O'Connor fan. Her first novel, Wise Blood was published in 1952 and received little attention at the time. The first chapter is an expansion of her master's thesis, "The Train,' from the University of Iowa, and other chapters are reworked versions of short stories she wrote. You'd never know that from reading it though. Wise Blood is a cohesive story that's very clearly written. While strange and extreme, it's also very O'Connor and incorporates all of her favorite themes to perfection. If you consider the time period, O'Connor was working on her prayer journal, released earlier this year, at the same time as Wise Blood. She was envisioning herself as a writer like she never had before and also struggling with her faith, asking God to "make me a

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Spring 2014 Books & Film Class Topic – Faulkner & Flannery: Exploring the Southern Gothic Held Wednesdays through February 26 at UL Lafayette Instructor: Dr. Mary Ann Wilson Notes will be updated each Friday through February 28; comment to join in the discussion. On Wednesday, we delved into Faulkner's second novel As I Lay Dying. His most well known and the one that's taught in high school English, this novel has all the elements of the Southern Gothic. "You can't get more Southern Gothic than carting your mother's rotting corpse across the state for burial," says Dr. Wilson. As I Lay Dying is also one of the few books by Faulkner that has much humor in it, but not everyone in class agreed with that. Some viewed the novel as quite dark, but I can admit I chuckled a few times, especially in some scenes with Anse Bundren. It also helps to consider the time period this book is set in — the Depression-era South — and that the Bundren family is poor white trash, only a step up from the African Americans, who are mostly absent in this book. Most of them have their own motives for wanting to go to Jefferson to bury their mother,

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Spring 2014 Books & Film Class Topic – Faulkner & Flannery: Exploring the Southern Gothic Held Wednesdays through February 26 at UL Lafayette Instructor: Dr. Mary Ann Wilson Notes will be updated each Friday through February 28; comment to join in the discussion. We moved on to the Faulkner portion in this week's class, with discussion on three of his short stories and a viewing of two films based on them. The stories included his most famous, "A Rose for Emily," "Barn Burning" and "That Evening Sun." Part of the reason I'm taking this class is to expand my reading and understanding of Faulkner. His short stories — and especially these three — are the perfect place to start. "A Rose For Emily" is probably the best for showing how O'Connor was influenced by Faulkner. Southern Gothic and macabre to the max, it reads like a classic horror movie. In fact, there is a short film version of the story from 1983, starring Angelica Huston. The earliest of Faulkner's stories and the first to be published in a national magazine, "A Rose for Emily" has all of his typical themes: the relationship between parents and children, class divisions and a timeframe based on perception rather than

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Save the Date for Wiley Cash, reading Faulkner & Flannery and highlights from the Real Housewives of Yoknapatawpha County in Literary News, #readwomen2014 in Social Media, Zora! Festival in Literary Events and an essay on home improvement by Michael Farris Smith. Happy Literary Friday!

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Spring 2014 Books & Film Class Topic - Faulkner & Flannery: Exploring the Southern Gothic Held Wednesdays through February 19 at UL Lafayette Instructor: Dr. Mary Ann Wilson Notes will be updated each Friday through February 21; comment to join in the discussion. I arrived to a full classroom on Wednesday, and English professor Mary Ann Wilson began with an introduction to the Southern Gothic and the parallels between Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner. Both Southern Gothic writers working in the 1950s and early 1960s, they certainly used similar techniques in storytelling and were inspired by their surroundings, while at the same time turning out very different work. It's easy to say that Faulkner is the more famous of the two, but O'Connor's Library of America volume of collected works outsold Faulkner's. Southern Gothic - a style of writing practiced by many writers of the American South whose stories set in that region are characterized by grotesque, macabre, or fantastic incidents.  Although living two states away in central Georgia, while Faulkner was in Oxford, Mississippi, O'Connor was aware of him, as he was a giant in American literature when she was just getting started. Her best known quote about him is "I keep clear of Faulkner so my

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