Annual Award for Outstanding Conference Paper 2016 Winner

31 Mar

Congratulations to Kassia Waggoner, the winner of our annual award for outstanding conference paper, and the recipient of the $100 honorarium.

Waggoner’s paper, “Embodied Listening: Singer as Feminist Listener in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” was presented at PAMLA 2016 as part of a panel on “disabilities in American literature”.

Our judges were unanimous in choosing the winner, and their comments included:

“Valuable analysis, most applicable to other works, most fully worked out. The writing is quite clear.”

“I learned from this essay. Clear and well done.”

“Not only is the essay polished and well-considered, but the author provides a fresh way of considering Singer’s role in Lonely Hunter from the perspectives of feminism and disability studies.”

Congratulations once again to our winner. Look out for our 2017 award, the details of which will be announced later in the year. We look forward to an exciting year for McCullers studies.


Carson McCullers in the Twenty-First Century

14 Dec

Carson McCullers Society Board Members Alison Graham-Bertollini and Casey Kayser have co-edited the new collection of essays, Carson McCullers in the Twenty-First Century. book-coverThe collection includes chapters about McCullers’ fiction, autobiographical writing, and dramatic works, and is groundbreaking because it includes the first detailed scholarly examination of new archival material donated to Columbus State University after the 2013 death of Dr. Mary Mercer, McCullers’ psychiatrist and friend, including transcripts of the psychiatric sessions that took place between McCullers and Mercer in 1958. Further, the collection covers the scope of McCullers’ canon of work, such as The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940), The Member of the Wedding (1946), and Ballad of the Sad Café (1943), through lenses that are of growing interest in contemporary literary studies, including comparative transatlantic readings, queer theory, disability studies, and critical animal theory, among others.


14 Dec

The Carson McCullers Society and the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians sponsored a panel at this year’s South Atlantic Modern Language Association conference, held November 4-6 in Jacksonville, Florida:
Chair: Casey Kayser, University of Arkansas
Cousin Lymon: A Portrait of Dwarfism in Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the
Sad Café   –John David Harding, Saint Leo University

“The Worlds at the End of the Long, Stale Afternoons”: Gender Fluidity and
Utopian Vision in Carson McCullers’s The Member of the Wedding  –Cameron Williams, University of North Georgia

As Freud Likes It: The Oedipal Complex in Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the
Sad Cafe  –Tara Dybas, California State University Stanislaus

Reading Androgynous Bodies: Vision, Gender, and the Reproductive Politics of
Miss Amelia in Carson McCullers’ The Ballad of the Sad Cafe –Sarah-Marie Horning

CFP: Carson McCullers Society Panel at American Literature Association

14 Dec


Carson McCullers Society

American Literature Association

28th Annual Conference

May 25-28, 2017 ~ Boston, MA

The Westin Copley Center


The Carson McCullers Society welcomes abstracts for a panel on tolerance in Carson McCullers’ life and work. The panel call is broad; however, papers that place McCullers’ treatment of issues of diversity, plurality, non-conformity, and difference into dialogue with the contemporary, post-Trump moment or within the shifting currents of the early Civil Rights, pre-Stonewall, and pre-Women’s Liberation Movements are especially encouraged. For instance, panelists might discuss the political bandying about of the phrase “the leftover people” in the most recent presidential election in terms of its multiplex meanings in McCullers’ life and work and in media parlance today. McCullers’ handling of racial anger and white male political rage through the characters of Dr. Copeland and the itinerant drifter Jake Blount in The Heart is a Lonely Hunter might bear interesting comparisons to political, social, and labor tensions of her age, as well as our own. Novelist Sarah Schulman’s claim in a recent New Yorker article that “Carson McCullers was able to inhabit any kind of person” with “’ease’” (qtd. Richard Wright) because she possessed a “transgender . . . identity that history had not yet discovered” might also be fruitful to tease out in relation to issues of sexual, racial, gender, and/or class recognition, tolerance, and intolerance in McCullers’ fiction, drama, and poetry. Paper proposals along these and any topics in McCullers’ life and work are welcome.


Interested scholars can email a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio to Alison Graham-Bertolini and Isadora J. Wagner, panel organizers, at and by January 21st, 2017.

The American Literature Association’s 28th annual conference will meet at the Westin Copley Place in Boston on May 25-28, 2017 (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend). The deadline for proposals is January 30, 2017. For further information, please consult the ALA website at or contact the conference director, Professor Olivia Carr Edenfield at with specific questions.


CFP: Carson McCullers Society Prize for Outstanding Conference Paper

14 Dec

The Carson McCullers Society invites submissions for an annual scholarly Prize for Outstanding Conference Paper, to be awarded to an essay on the life and work of Carson McCullers presented at a conference in the past year. Entries should provide evidence that the paper was presented at a regional, national, or international academic conference during the previous calendar year (January to December 2016) and that the winner is eligible for the award as an active member of the Society. See the Society’s website at  for membership information. Submissions are welcome from graduate students and all levels of scholars. Judging will be a blind process, and the award carries a $100 honorarium. Please send submissions to Carson McCullers Society President Alison Graham-Bertolini ( by February 1, 2017. The winner will be announced in early March.

Carson McCullers Society Prize for Outstanding Conference Paper of 2015

8 Aug
Congratulations to Sarah-Marie Horning, whose essay, “Experiencing the Artfulness of the Object: The Function of the I, Off-Colored Seasons, and Defamiliarized Sexuality in Carson McCullers’ The Member of the Wedding was selected as the Carson McCullers Society Prize for Outstanding Conference Paper of 2015.

Sarah-Marie Horning is a PhD student at Texas Christian University where she directs an online undergraduate research journal. Her papers and presentations have covered Southern women writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, and Zora Neale Hurston. Her current research explores the topic of androgyny in the works of Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers.

Many thanks to our judges, who chose her essay through a blind judging process, and praised her essay’s “rather sophisticated argument.”
Sarah presented her essay at a symposium at the University of Central Florida.

Congratulations, Sarah!

We hope others will keep this annual award in mind if they present any work on McCullers at academic conferences during the 2016 calendar year!

Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Celebration

29 Jun

Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Conference

A Call for Proposals / Papers / Panels

John Cabot University, the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, and the Carson McCullers Society will celebrate the centennial of Carson McCullers’s birth by hosting Carson McCullers in the World: A Centenary Conference in Rome, Italy, 14-16 July 2017.

As a child growing up in Columbus, Georgia, McCullers discovered the world through reading writers from around the world.  Like the young McCullers, the characters in her work often longed to leave their small-town lives and become a “member of the whole world.”  McCullers’s work has been translated into nearly forty languages, has wide appeal for international readers, and has inspired scholarly interest throughout the world. As we approach the centennial of her birth, we invite proposals for both panels and individuals papers that offer new perspectives on McCullers’s life and work, especially on such topics as the international appeal of her work and its significance in global contexts, and it resonance and relevance in the twenty-first century.  Topics related to any other aspects of McCullers’s life and work are also welcomed.  Please send a 250 to 500-word paper abstract, or panel proposal with abstracts, to by 15 Sept. 2016.