|O'Connor scholars hit the road
CentreTerm class gives students the chance to visit writer's Georgia home
RELEASED: Feb. 6, 2003
DANVILLE, KYThe small Georgia town of Milledgeville was the destination for a CentreTerm English class looking to get a little more perspective on its reading.
Jobson Professor of English Mark Lucas led his class of 31 "O'Connor Scholars" on a three-day trip to see for themselves the town that had so deeply influenced the work of American writer Flannery O'Connor.
The trip was the final component in a three-week course during which the students read nearly all of O'Connor's stories and letters and her novel, Wise Blood.
"It really brought to life the work of Flannery O'Connor," junior Kasey Joyner said.
During a stop at Andalusia Farm, where O'Connor lived from 1951 until her death from lupus in 1964, Lucas read passages from O'Connor's letters and stories while the students stood on the front porch enjoying the same view that O'Connor once had.
"It was great to see the place that is the setting for most of her short stories, and to see where she wrote most of her mature works," Lucas said.
The group also visited Georgia College and State University, which O'Connor attended, with a special stop at the school's library to see the Flannery O'Connor Room that boasts her book collection and various furnishings from her home at Andalusia, including her writing desk.
"I made a special request to the university to see a letter she wrote on her death bed," Lucas said. "I didn't know if they'd allow this because it was such a radical request. But they produced it for us. I think the students were excited and moved to see the last thing she ever wrote."
Senior Zachary Shewmaker and his parents hosted the students' final stop.
"We had supper there, and the students put on a performance, acting out some of O'Connor's pieces," Lucas said. "It was hilarious and, though not completely scholarly, was a fun end to the trip."
Junior Zach McClave enjoyed both the academic opportunities and social aspects of the trip. "It was both educational and fun," McClave said. "We got to dive deeper into O'Connor's life and see what she saw."
A specialist in Southern literature, Lucas has instituted such traditions as the Grit Lit Barbecue and the annual senior-seminar pilgrimage to William Faulkner's birthplace.
A 1975 graduate of Centre, Lucas holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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