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First Tuesday discussion of Welty goes international

Dr. Carolyn J. Brown, author of “A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty,” presents at First Tuesday Oct. 15 on campus.Dr. Carolyn J. Brown, author of “A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty,” presents at First Tuesday Oct. 15 on campus.

Delta State University will present Dr. Carolyn J. Brown, author of “A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty,” as part of its long-running First Tuesday brown bag luncheon series at 12:10 p.m. on Oct. 15 in the Fielding L. Wright Art Center on campus.

Mississippi author Eudora Welty, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award, was the first living writer to be published in the Library of America series. She mentored many of today’s greatest fiction writers and is also known for photographing Mississippi in the early to mid-1930s, documenting poverty and struggles of the Great Depression era.

Brown, also a successful writer, editor and independent scholar, will be lecturing about the historic figure at the First Tuesday event, which is free and open to the public.

The Welty biography, published by the University Press of Mississippi, is her first book. It was selected in 2012 by the Mississippi Library Commission to represent the state at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Editors of Delta Magazine also chose it as the book of the year.

“The title of my talk at Delta State is going to be ‘Eudora Welty’s Daring Life,’” said Brown. “I am going to discuss how daring is not an adjective typically associated with Welty, but her photographs, work at the Works Progress Administration during that time, and other examples, especially during the civil rights period, reveal a woman with much courage and daring.”

Brown is the founder, along with Delta State professor of English Dr. Susan Allen Ford, of the new Mississippi Region of the Jane Austen Society of North America, which is actively seeking new members. The duo also has team-teaching experience at Millsaps College in Jackson.

Ford and Don Allan Mitchell, both professors in Delta State’s Division of Languages and Literature, have been helping plan the affair.

“Dr. Brown is coming here partly because of the Eudora Welty photos that are up at the Wiljax Gallery in Cleveland,” said Ford. “She is an engaging speaker and has talked to many different groups about this book. She always brings a different and interesting perspective for each new audience.”

Mitchell has been facilitating the international connection of this event with Dr. Svetlana Polyakova, a professor in the English Language and Intercultural Communication Department at Perm State University in Russia — where President William N. LaForge was once a colleague during his time as a guest law professor and Fulbright Scholar at the school.

“President LaForge mentioned he had a friend from Perm State who really wanted to get involved with international exchanges with Delta State,” said Mitchell. “We put two and two together and thought they would be interested in viewing presentations at our campus related to Mississippi.

“Welty was such a great observer of life and Brown has written a great biography — we thought this was a good starting point and that by recording this event we could share a snapshot of a day in the life of Delta State.”

Original plans were to livestream Brown’s presentation to an audience in Russia, but due to time differences, Mitchell is making sure Professor Polyakova and students at Perm State will be able to view a recorded copy of the event.

“It will be well after midnight in Perm, Russia when Dr. Brown begins her lecture.  There may be a few night owls willing to log in, but it makes more sense to make this event asynchronous,” said Mitchell. “Edwin Craft of DSU’s Office of Information Technology, Ron Koehler of the Art Department and Christy Riddle, who heads up our international student center, have been really helpful in setting this event up.”

Both Mitchell and Ford agree that forging this international bridge fits well with LaForge’s goal of improving Delta State’s international relations. They expect a good turnout from the campus and community.

“We look at this as connecting the dots with our international partnerships,” said Mitchell. “President LaForge will also be announcing Delta State University’s partnership with Perm State University, and I cannot think of a more fitting occasion than a lecture on the life of a woman who encouraged all Mississippians to be more daring. I imagine Ms. Welty would approve of this endeavor.”

To learn more about Brown and the Welty biography, visit Brown lives in Jackson with her husband and two sons, and is currently writing her second biography about another notable Mississippi writer, Margaret Walker. University Press of Mississippi will publish the book in 2014.

Those attending may bring a brown bag lunch. Coffee will be provided.  Signed copies of her book will be available for purchase.

First Tuesday is sponsored by the Art Department and the First Tuesday Committee and is usually scheduled for the first Tuesday of each month during fall and spring semesters from 12:10-1 p.m. The events feature lectures, readings and presentations representing diverse perspectives in the arts and humanities.

The First Tuesday programs are free and open to the public. For more information, call 662-846-4720.