The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Gala features friends, scholars to honor Eudora Welty’s accomplishments

 
Mississippi State University’s Maroon Edition will be hosting “An Evening with the Daughter’s Optimists,” a gala featuring friends and scholars of Eudora Welty at 7 p.m., Sept. 29 in Bettersworth Auditorium in Lee Hall.
The panel leading the discussion is comprised of five people, including Welty’s official biographer, Suzanne Marrs, along with Welty’s niece, Mary Alice White. The hour-long program will consist of panelists sharing stories and talking about what kind of person Welty was, followed by an opportunity for questions.
The Maroon Edition committee has been planning “An Evening with the Daughter’s Optimists” for six months. Noel Polk, professor emeritus, will be moderating the admission-free discussion. Polk said she thinks the representatives offer a unique opportunity to get further insight into Welty’s life.
“Collectively, this panel has known her life and her works and her world about as well as anybody. They will be able to answer just about any question about her life and works,” Polk said in an email.
The other visiting panelists are Hunter Cole and Peggy Prenshaw, both friends and scholars of Welty’s. Maridith Geuder, Maroon Edition committee member, said students should benefit from the question and answer session as well as the knowledge of the panel.
“Students there can ask questions and get a sense that this is one of the great writers of the 20th century, not just a Mississippi writer, but an American writer … Having an opportunity to see the behind the scenes of this writer is something that MSU students will value in the future,” Geuder said.
A main part of the discussion will revolve around Welty’s 1973 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and Maroon Edition book of the year, “The Optimist’s Daughter.” Rhett Hobart, MSU Student Association president and Maroon Edition committee member, said he thinks the panel will give another dimension to the book.
“Students can read the novel and they can interpret their ideas from that, but I think being able to have this panel and to hear the thoughts of the people on this panel can give them a better insight on the novel and maybe a more clear understanding of where she was in writing it,” Hobart said.
Beyond the novel, Linda Morse, Maroon Edition chair, said she believes the closeness between Welty and those on the panel offers a unique perspective to the event.
“I think it is a very rare opportunity to see people who knew this woman in a very close way. It’s not the same as reading about someone, it’s an eyewitness with people who knew her well. It’s a rare opportunity to see their vision of what Eudora Welty was like,” Morse said.
Geuder said she agrees with Morse that the gala presents a distinct occasion to get to know a more personal side of Welty.
“This is one of those unequaled opportunities to explore one of the great writers from our state,” Geuder said. “You’ll get to see her in a light that very few other people will get a chance to see her.”
Although the discussion will revolve primarily around Welty, Morse feels the event falls in line with the Maroon Edition’s initiative to serve as a basis for intellectual and cultural discussion with students.
“The goal is to intellectually engage and intellectually enrich students in some way so that when you look back on this event 15 years from now, you remember your exposure to it — some idea, some connection, something you’ve never thought of — that helps you expand your own mind. And that’s really what the whole program is about,” Morse said.

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Gala features friends, scholars to honor Eudora Welty’s accomplishments