A little William Faulkner for everyone

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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - The 2014 Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference begins Sunday and continues through July 24 in Oxford.

The theme is “Faulkner and History.”

Organizer Jay Watson says that means a little William Faulkner for everyone

. “Faulkner writes about people who are saturated in history and have an undeniable sense that the past is still with us shaping our outlook on life,” Watson, University of Mississippi Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies, told The Oxford Eagle (http://bit.ly/1iA4toK )

While the conference is geared toward writers, teachers and others who love Faulkner’s work, there will be other events.

The conference begins Sunday with a reception at the University Museum. A buffet supper will be held later on the grounds of Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak.

The conference will also feature a picnic at Rowan Oak, guided tours, and a closing party on July 24.

Faulkner, a native of New Albany, bought Rowan Oak in Oxford in 1930 and it became his home until his death in 1962. The University of Mississippi operates Rowan Oak as a historic house museum.

It was at Rowan Oak where Faulkner penned such works as “Light in August” and “A Fable,” which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954. Another of his works, “The Reivers,” won the Pulitzer Prize in 1962. Faulkner was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1950.

The first Faulkner conference was held in 1974.

“This year, with the theme being ‘history,’ we are showing a couple of documentary films about Mississippi for the Sunday evening program on opening day of the conference,” Watson said. “One of those gives us home-shot footage of a Mississippi Delta cotton plantation in 1941.”

The event will include six keynote lectures by scholars, presentations; guided daylong tours of North Mississippi, the Delta and Memphis; and sessions on “Teaching Faulkner.”

Watson said the speakers are a mix of literary scholars and historians.

Jeremy Wells is assistant professor of English at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana.

“I will be talking about Faulkner’s relationship with African-American spirituals,” he said. “I am interested in the ways that Faulkner wrote about the spirituals - how he expressed them in language and how this compares to how the spirituals were written about by other writers from the Civil War onward.”

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