February is for Flannery: O’Connor is writer’s conference subject

The Grove City College Department of English will look at the work of American novelist, short story writer and essayist Flannery O’Connor during its annual Christian Writers Conference in February.

The event provides a forum for exploring the relationship between literature and the Christian faith. Over the course of a month, the conference features a student-penned play, a guest lecturer and the screening of a film based on one of O’Connor’s short stories.

This year’s plenary speaker is Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson. She is associate director of Honors Scholars Program and associate professor of Creative Writing at John Brown University. She is the author of three books, including “Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov,” which received a 2017 Christianity Today book of the year award. Currently, she is preparing Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished novel “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” for publication.

“Over the past 20 years, the Christian Writers Conference has often celebrated the work and thought of major writers – Emily Dickinson, Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis – by inviting an active Christian literary scholar to campus. Dr. Wilson’s recent scholarship on Flannery O’Connor is truly remarkable. We are looking forward to her chapel talk and lecture,” Dr. H. Collin Messer, professor and chair of the English Department, said.

Wilson will discuss “Why Flannery’s God Yells More than Whispers” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4 in Sticht Lecture Hall. She will also speak earlier in the day at Chapel, speaking about “Seeing Oneself Rightly” at 9:30 a.m. in Harbison Chapel.

Grove City College Ashley Wright ’21’s play “Unseemly Love” explores the last few months of the writer’s life through an unlikely friendship with a writer whose story is beginning as O’Conner’s is ending. It will be staged at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13 in the Little Theatre of Pew Fine Arts Center.

Wright, of Castle Rock, Colo., started writing plays in high school. “Unseemly Love” is her first full-length work. After reading O’Conner’s “Wise Blood,” she was inspired to learn more about O’Connor’s writing. “What I found was an extraordinary and profound testament to the terrible, beautiful power of the Gospel, reflected in both her life and her work,” she said.

“I’m so grateful to Dr. Messer and the English Department for their enthusiasm and interest in my play and thankful that I have the opportunity to bring it off the page for the conference,” Wright said.

“The Displaced Person,” a film adaptation of O’Connor’s short story will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday, February 19 at the Guthrie Theatre, a historic theater a 10-minute walk from the College in downtown Grove City.

The film screening, as well as the rest of the conference is free and open to the public.

February is for Flannery: O’Connor is writer’s conference subject

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