- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 17, 2006

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Vanderbilt University professor emeritus Walter Sullivan, an authority on Southern literature, died of cancer Aug. 15. He was 82.

The author of criticism, novels and short stories who taught at Vanderbilt for 51 years died at his home, university officials said.

Mr. Sullivan studied the Fugitive and Agrarian literary movements, which used crafted writing to uphold the traditional values of the agrarian South from industrialization.

He also befriended many of its most prominent figures, including Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate, Donald Davidson, Andrew Lytle and Peter Taylor.

“He’s one of the last of that generation of Southern literary critics who actually knew the Southern renaissance writers and tried to extend their reputations and critical ideology,” English professor Michael Kreyling said.

Among Mr. Sullivan’s most popular courses at Vanderbilt were those on creative writing, where he emphasized that writers should learn by studying the work of great authors.

“We must cease to worship the artist for his skill, no matter how great that skill may be,” Mr. Sullivan said during a 1974 lecture. “For only when we begin to see art as a vocation, like and no better than any other, can we expect a rejuvenation of our literature.”

Mr. Sullivan wrote the novels “Sojourn of a Stranger,” “The Long, Long Love” and “A Time to Dance,” the memoir “Allen Tate: A Recollection” and numerous short stories.

He was a founding member of the Chattanooga-based Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Mr. Sullivan grew up in Nashville. He received his undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt and a master of fine arts from the Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, where he studied with writer Flannery O’Connor.

His survivors include his wife, Jane Harrison Sullivan; daughter, Pamela Chenery; and sons, Walter Sullivan Jr. and John Sullivan.

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