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Millsaps College Welcomes Ralph Eubanks

by Web on September 30, 2015

W. Ralph Eubanks, a Mississippi-born author lauded for works about race, civil justice, and southern culture, will serve as the Eudora Welty Professor of Southern Studies during the 2016 spring semester at Millsaps College.“We are pleased to have such a renowned author fill the professorship that is named in memory of one of Mississippi’s most loved writers,” said S. Keith Dunn, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College.  “The works of Miss Welty and Ralph Eubanks both share a focus on the exploration of family and the individual’s role in society, and the development of a deeper understanding of southern culture and its particular sense of place and race.”

Eubanks, who was a guest lecturer at Millsaps in 2008, is scheduled to join Dr. Suzanne Marrs, emerita professor of English at Millsaps, for a reading on Oct. 8 at 4:30 p.m. in room 215 of the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex at Millsaps College. The reading is free and open to the public.

Marrs will read from Meanwhile, There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald, which she edited with Tom Nolan. Eubanks will read two short pieces.

A native of Mount Olive, Eubanks has made a name for himself as a publisher, professor, author, and editor. He earned a bachelor’s in psychology from the University of Mississippi and a master’s degree in English language and literature from the University of Michigan.

He has served as director of publishing at the Library of Congress since May 1995 and was editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia from June 2013 until February 2015. He has written numerous forewords, book reviews, and articles, including “Atticus Finch Confronted What the South Couldn’t,” which appeared in TIME on July 20, 2015.

Eubanks received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007 in recognition of his memoir, Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey Into Mississippi's Dark Past, which was named by Washington Post literary critic Jonathan Yardley as one of the best nonfiction books of 2003.

Eubanks’ memoir, The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South, was published in 2009.  The historical biography focuses on American identity and race relations, presented in context with contemporary issues experienced by three generations of Eubanks’ family.

During the spring 2016 semester, Eubanks will teach “Photography and Literacy,” a course that will examine Walker Evans and James Agee’s depression-era photo essay Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as well as Susan Sontag’s On Photography and include works by Eudora Welty, Claudia Rankine, Frederick Reuss, and Teju Cole.

He will also teach “Must the Writer Crusade: Civil Rights and Activism in Literature,” which will use Eudora Welty’s essay “Must the Novelist Crusade” as a point of reference along with works by James Baldwin, Elizabeth Spencer, and Millsaps graduate Lewis Nordan.