Community members, faculty, scholars and staff gathered in the Faulkner Room of the University of Mississippi’s JD Williams Library to hear about William Faulkner and his life and legacy outside of Lafayette County.
Specifically, the lecture focused on Faulkner and his family’s sense of place within Tippah and Union Counties. The talk was part of the UM Library Brown Bag Lecture Series, which brings together scholars to talk about a wide variety of topics on everything from William Faulkner to professional wrestling in the South, all during the noon to 1p.m. lunch hour.
Union County Heritage Museum Director Jill Smith and Scholar Jack Elliot presented the lecture Thursday.
The idea for the subject came from Director of Archives and Special Collections Jennifer Ford. She said that she first got the idea of for the lecture while thinking about Faulkner and the library’s relationship with him and the places that shaped his life.
“A lot of what we’re doing right now is Faulkner related because of the current book for the Common Reading Experience,” Ford said, referring to the book all incoming freshmen are required to read this year. “I was thinking about the partnership the university has with New Albany, and I’ve been doing some work down in New Albany myself. It was just serendipity, the idea of bringing Jill together with Jack and letting them talk about this idea of place.”
So, Ford reached out to the museum director and the scholar and pitched the idea of the talk to them. They loved it. Ford said they were super receptive to the idea and were eager to be part of the series.
“Everyone who speaks here as a part of our Brown Bag series, we invite and no one as ever told us no,” Ford said. “We’ve managed to land some truly great speakers here.
During Smith’s part of the lecture, she talked about how they seek to honor Faulkner’s legacy at the museum, and how they’re able to do that in some unusual ways. In addition to the art and artifacts celebrating Faulkner’s life, there are some other pieces as well. There was once a low bridge that earned the name Clearance from the sign that hung on the bridge.
The bridge was taken down several years ago and given to the museum. They turned it into a walkway for guests to use.
There is a garden at the museum filled with flowers Faulkner wrote about and even a statue modeled after one of his characters.
So much of the museum is dedicated to honoring the life and legacy of the author, who was born in New Albany.
Elliot’s portion of the talk focused largely on the artifacts of Faulkner’s life and those of his ancestors. He showed pictures of houses and courthouses and grave monuments. Elliot talked about Faulkner’s extensive family history in Ripley and showed images of the houses that shaped his past.
Elliot is a historical archaeologist by trade, so physical locations and the history tied to them is a large part of his study area.