2020 Oxford Conference for the Book Authors
We’ve begun listing speakers for the 2020 conference! Check back often for updates.
To see the times speakers will present, please visit the schedule page.
Ann J. Abadie is former associate director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi and coeditor of numerous scholarly collections from the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference. Born in Greenville, South Carolina, Abadie received her bachelor’s degree in English and History from Wake Forest University in North Carolina. She earned her doctorate in English from the University of Mississippi, where she later served on the committee that planned the Center for the Study of Southern Culture (CSSC). Since the CSSC’s debut in 1977, she has served crucial roles, including associate director, as well as associate editor of the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture and Mississippi Encyclopedia. For the first decade of its existence, Abadie served on the SFA’s board of directors. She lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from the east side of Columbus, Ohio. His latest books are Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest (2019 National Book Award Longlister)and A Fortune For Your Disaster.
Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian College on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research.Now living in Northern California with her partner,Alix,and her son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working-class storyteller, a southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian. Her short story collection, Trash(1988),won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing, and her novel Bastard Out of Carolinawas nominated for the 1992 National Book Award for fiction.
Cassie Beasley is from rural Georgia, where, when she’s not writing, she helps out on the family pecan farm. She earned her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Circus Mirandus is her first novel.
Rosebud Ben-Oni is the winner of the 2019 Alice James Award for If This Is the Age We End Discovery, forthcoming in 2021, and the author of turn around, BRXGHT XYXS (Get Fresh Books, 2019). She is a recipient of fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and CantoMundo. Her work appears in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, POETS.org, The Poetry Review (UK), Tin House, Guernica, Black Warrior Review, Prairie Schooner, Electric Literature, TriQuarterly, Hayden’s Ferry Review, among others. Her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City, and published by The Kenyon Review Online. She writes for The Kenyon Review blog. She recently edited a special chemistry poetry portfolio for Pleiades, and is finishing a series called The Atomic Sonnets, in honor of the Periodic Table’s 150th Birthday. Find her at 7TrainLove.org
Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of Whiskey & Ribbons and Every Kiss a War and the forthcoming short story collection So We Can Glow. Every Kiss a War was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). Her short story “Whiskey & Ribbons” won Editor’s Choice in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest (2011) and was listed as a notable story for Story South’s Million Writers Award. The novel Whiskey & Ribbons was long-listed for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and listed among Oprah Magazine’s “Top Books of Summer.” Her work has appeared in Oxford American, Best Small Fictions 2015, NYLON, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poets & Writers, and The Rumpus.
Brian Dettmer is one of the leading artists working with the book today. Dettmer’s sculptures can be found in the permanent collection of several notable institutions including: the Smithsonian American Art Museum, DC; The Art Institute of Chicago Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, IL; The High Museum, GA; The Museum of Contemporary Art, GA; and the Yale University Art Gallery, CT. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Chicago Tribune, Art News, Modern Painters, Wired, The Village Voice, Harper’s and NPR among many others. Dettmer’s exhibit Hardcovers and Paperbacks, both memorializes the written word and reincarnates it. With great reverence, he has transformed books into sculptural works providing them with a new voice that pays homage to their former lives. Exhibit is on view at both the University Museum and Rowan Oak.
Ralph Eubanks is the author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past, which Washing Post book critic Jonathan Yardley named as one of the best nonfiction books of the year. He has contributed articles to the Washington Post “Outlook” and “Style” sections, the Wall Street Journal, WIRED, the New Yorker, and National Public Radio. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and has been a fellow at the New America Foundation. He is the former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia and served as director of publishing at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. from 1995 to 2013.
Amy C. Evans
Amy C. Evans is an award-winning artist, writer, and documentarian based in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the city's acclaimed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. Her paintings have appeared in Southern Living, Southern Cultures, and on CNN’s Eatocracy and the Oxford American blog. Her writing has appeared in Saveur, The Bitter Southerner, The Local Palate, Mississippi Folklife, and Cornbread Nation 5: The Best of Southern Food Writing. Amy built the documentary program at the Southern Foodways Alliance, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, where she served as their lead oral historian for more than a decade. The Mississippi Historical Society has twice recognized her work, and Food & Wine magazine named Amy one of the “most fearsome talents” in the culinary world. She has been represented by Houston's Koelsch Gallery since 1997 and was recently awarded a substantial grant from the Houston Arts Alliance. Amy's favorite pie is sweet potato.
Beth Ann Fennelly
Poet Laureate of Mississippi, Beth Ann Fennelly teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s a proud affiliate of the Sarah Isom Center. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, and three books of prose: a book of nonfiction, Great with Child; next, The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin; and most recently, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs, an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.
Ann Fisher-Wirth’s fourth book of poems, Dream Cabinet, was published in 2012. Her other books of poems are Carta Marina, Blue Window, and Five Terraces. She is co-editor of Ecopoetry: A Contemporary American Anthology, published early in 2013. Her poems appear widely and have received numerous awards, including a Malahat ReviewLong Poem Prize, the Rita Dove Poetry Award, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters poetry award, two Mississippi Arts Commission fellowships, and thirteen Pushcart nominations including a special mention.She teaches poetry workshops, and a wide range of courses in environmental literature at the University of Mississippi, where she also directs the minor in Environmental Studies.
Martha Hall Foose
Martha Hall Foose is the author of Screen Doors & Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales of a Southern Cook, the best-selling homage to Southern cooking, won the James Beard Award for American Cooking and The Southern Independent Booksellers Award. Her well-received follow-up, A Southerly Course: Recipes & Stories from Close to Home, found its way onto Best of the Best lists from NPR and Food & Wine. She co-authored Oh Gussie! Cooking and Visiting in Kimberly’s Southern Kitchen with Kimberly Schlapman of Little Big Town. Martha also co-authored My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen with chef Asha Gomez which won the 2017 Gourmand World Cookbook Award for Best Indian Cuisine, garnered a James Beard Nomination for Best Cookbook: American, and won Food 52’s Piglet Award for Cookbook of the Year. Her second collaboration with Asha Gomez, I Cook in Color: Bright Flavors from My Kitchen and Around the Globe, is scheduled for publication in 2020. Martha makes her home in the Mississippi Delta with her husband and son.
Craig W. Gill
Craig W. Gill is the Director of the University Press of Mississippi. He has worked at the press for more than 22 years rising from Senior Editor to Editor-in-Chief to Director. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin he has worked in scholarly publishing since 1990 in marketing and editorial at Northwestern University Press, the University of Chicago Press, the University Press of Kentucky, and the University Press of Mississippi. Over the course of his career he has acquired and published more than seven hundred books.
Darren E. Grem
Darren E. Grem earned his B.A. from Furman University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. He held postdoctoral fellowships at Yale University and Emory University before joining the faculty at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of The Blessings of Business: How Corporations Shaped Conservative Christianity, a book that details how conservative evangelicals strategically used business leaders, organizations, methods, and money to advance their cultural and political aspirations in twentieth-century America. His second long-term project, Hard Times, USA: The Great Depression in American Memory, is an expansive study of how Americans after World War II remembered and used the Great Depression in popular culture (memorial sites, music, literature, art, film) and in political activism for and against the New Deal state. In the Arch Dalrymple III Department of History and at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Darren teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in twentieth-century U.S. history, southern history and southern studies, and modern politics and culture.
Lilace Mellin Guignard
Lilace Mellin Guignard is a writer and teacher in rural Pennsylvania, focused particularly on “ecojustice poetry.” As a part-time professor at Mansfield University, she teaches in Creative Writing, Outdoor Recreation Leadership, and Women’s Studies, all subjects she incorporates into her literary works. In 2015, her collection of poetry, Young at the Time of Letting Go, won the Evening Street Press Helen Kay Chapbook award. Her latest work, When Everything Beyond the Walls Is Wild: Being a Woman Outdoors in America, published April 2019, is a non-fiction exploration of gender, wilderness, and the ways in which we learn and are taught about place and space. She is currently living in Wellsboro, PA with her husband, two children, and their dog.
Sarah Heying is a PhD student in English at the University of Mississippi, where she researches the relationship between reproductive politics and creative practices in southern lesbian literature. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in West Branch, Lambda Literary, Bitch, Lit Hub, and elsewhere, and her short story, “The Chairkickers’ Tale,” won the 2019 Robert Watson Fiction Award from the Greensboro Review.
Natalie Hopkinson is an award-winning essayist and critical-cultural scholar. She is an assistant professor in the doctoral program in Howard University's Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies, and a fellow of the Interactivity Foundation.
Lily King is the author of five award-winning novels. Her most recent novel, Writers & Lovers, will be published on March 3rd, 2020. Her 2014 novel Euphoria won the Kirkus Award, The New England Book Award, The Maine Fiction Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award. Euphoria was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times Book Review. It was included in TIME's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2014, as well as on Amazon, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Publishers Weekly, and Salon’s Best Books of 2014.
Todd Lape is the Production and Design Manager for the University Press of Mississippi and has been with the press for 22 years. A graduate of Belhaven University with a bachelor of fine arts, he is responsible for overseeing the Production Department including two book designers. Together they design both the covers and interiors for 84 new books per year.
Tonia Lonie is the business manager for the University Press of Mississippi (UPM). She is responsible for overseeing and managing the annual budget, publishing business, and human resource operations for UPM. Tonia joined UPM in 2015 and has over 20 years of professional experience which include: public accounting, human resources, retirement plan administration, project management, grant compliance, fraud analysis, internal control reviews, fixed assets, policy development, and process improvement. Tonia earned a bachelor of business administration in accounting from Jackson State University, a master of business administration from Delta State University, and is also a Certified Fraud Examiner.
Lisa Lucas is the executive director of the National Book Foundation. Prior to joining the foundation, she served as the publisher of Guernica magazine and the director of education at the Tribeca Film Institute.
Sarah McFarland is professor of English at Northwestern State University, in Natchitoches, LA, where she lives in the piney woods with her multi-species family. Her current research explores the convergence of critical animal studies and post-apocalyptic speculations to theorize diverse subjectivities in climate change fiction. McFarland has published a number of journal articles and book chapters and is the editor of Animals and Agency: An Interdisciplinary Exploration, with Ryan Hediger.
Kathryn McKee is McMullan Associate Professor of Southern Studies and Associate Professor of English at the University of Mississippi, and director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. She is coeditor, with Deborah Barker, of American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary, and her articles have appeared in various journals, including American Literature,Legacy, Southern Literary Journal, and Mississippi Quarterly. She has a PhD in American Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. McKee’s areas of scholarly research include nineteenth-century American literature, the literature and culture of the nineteenth-century U.S. South, writing by women, global south studies, film studies, and humor studies.
Oge Mora graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration. When not painting in her studio, Oge is in the kitchen cooking her late grandmother’s recipes. Her first picture book, Thank You, Omu!, was a Caldecott Honor, a New York Times Notable Book and Editors’ Choice, and a Junior Library Guild selection. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.
Catarina Passidomo joined the faculty of the University of Mississippi in 2014. She is interested primarily in studying food systems to better understand and contest broader social systems and phenomena. Through work with her students and the Southern Foodways Alliance, she is investigating the connections between the food system and: migration between the Global South and the U.S. South; structural racism; economic inequality; and demographic and culinary changes in the American South. Catarina has published articles in Urban Studies; Geoforum; Agriculture and Human Values; The Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development; and ACME, and has contributed chapters to two edited volumes on Food Sovereignty and the food-immigration nexus. In 2019, Catarina traveled to Lima, Peru on a Fulbright Teaching and Research.
Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT, and The Watering Holeand was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as New York Times Magazine, The Georgia Review, and Sixth Finchand in the anthologies Portrait in Blues, Nepantla, and New Poetry from the Midwest. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at the University of Mississippi.
Iliana Regan is a self-taught chef. She is the founder and owner of the Michelin-starred “new gatherer” restaurant Elizabeth in Chicago and of Milkweed Inn, a farm and bed and breakfast located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Her cuisine highlights her midwestern roots and the pure flavor of the often foraged ingredients of her upbringing. A James Beard Award and Jean Banchet Award nominee, Regan was named one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs 2016 and is the author of Burn the Place: A Memoir, which was longlisted for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.
Maria Reva was born in Ukraine and grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Michener Center at the University of Texas. Her fiction has appeared in The Atlantic, McSweeney's, Best American Short Stories, Granta and elsewhere. She currently lives in Austin, Texas, and also works as an opera librettist.
Maurice Carlos Ruffin
Maurice Carlos Ruffin has been a recipient of an Iowa Review Award in fiction and a winner of the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, AGNI, The Kenyon Review, The Massachusetts Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. A native of New Orleans, Ruffin is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. His debut novel, We Cast a Shadow (published January 2019), a dystopian satire set in the near future in the American Deep South, was recently nominated for a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The book earned him the critical praise of writers such as Kiese Laymon and Roxanne Gay.
Laura-Gray Street is an associate professor of English and directs the Creative Writing Program at Randolph College in Lynchburg, Virginia. She is the author of Pigment and Fume and co-editor, with Ann Fisher-Wirth, of The Ecopoetry Anthology. Her work has appeared in the Colorado Review, Poecology, Poet Lore, Poetry Daily, Hawk & Handsaw, Many Mountains Moving, Gargoyle, ISLE, Shenandoah, Meridian, Blackbird, and elsewhere.
Joseph M. Thompson
Joseph M. Thompson is assistant professor of history at Mississippi State University. He recently completed a PhD in the University of Virginia’s Corcoran Department of History. His dissertation, “Sounding Southern: Music, Militarism, and the Making of the Sunbelt” traces the economic and symbolic connections between popular music and the US military during the Cold War. Thompson was a predoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow. His work has appeared in the journals American Quarterly and Southern Cultures, as well as the edited collection Reconsidering Southern Labor History: Race, Class, and Power.
Tommy Tomlinson has written for publications including Esquire, ESPN the Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, Garden & Gun, and many others. He spent twenty-three years as a reporter and local columnist for the Charlotte Observer, where he was a finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in commentary. His stories have been chosen twice for the Best American Sports Writing series, and he also appears in the anthology America’s Best Newspaper Writing. He is also the host of the podcast SouthBound in partnership with WFAE, Charlotte’s NPR station. He has taught at Wake Forest University, the University of Georgia, and at workshops and conferences across the country. Tommy and his wife, Alix Felsing, live in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Elephant in the Room is his first book.
Zackary Vernon is assistant professor of English at Appalachian State University. In both his teaching and writing, he focuses on American literature, film, and environmental studies. Vernon’s research has appeared in a range of scholarly books and journals, and he is the coeditor of Summoning the Dead: Essays on Ron Rash. Vernon is also currently finishing a manuscript entitled Haunted by Waters: The Hydropolitics of American Literature, 1960-1980.
Jay Watson is Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies at the University of Mississippi and the director of the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference. He is the author of Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner and Reading for the Body: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Southern Fiction,1893–1985, which received Honorable Mention for the 2013 C. Hugh Holman Award sponsored by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature. He is also the editor of Faulkner and Whiteness, Conversations with Larry Brown, and coeditor of five volumes of the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha conference proceedings.