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Smith Named Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature

by Web on July 19, 2018

Dr. Katy Simpson Smith, novelist and historian, will be the first to hold the newly created Eudora Welty Chair for Southern Literature at Millsaps College.

The chair was established and endowed with two gifts of $500,000 each from Joe Sanderson, B.A. 1969, and his wife, Kathy, of Laurel and the Phil Hardin Foundation as well as a dozen other individual donors.

“We are pleased to have Katy fill the chair that is named in memory of one of Mississippi’s most loved writers,” said Dr. S. Keith Dunn, provost and dean of the College. “Known for her vibrant sense of the past and stories that connect us, Katy will teach a fiction workshop and interdisciplinary courses during the 2018-19 academic year that focus on art and storytelling in the South.”

Smith earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Bennington College, a master’s degree and doctorate in United States history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a bachelor’s degree in history and film studies from Mount Holyoke College.

She has written professionally for five years. Her first novel, The Story of Land and Sea, initially written as the thesis for her M.F.A., is set on the North Carolina coast during the late 1700s.

Smith’s second novel, Free Men, takes place in Alabama in the late 18th century, the era she studied for her dissertation on Southern motherhood: We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835.

Smith recently sold her third novel, which is set in Rome and shifts between multiple eras. It is scheduled to be published by Harper in early 2020.

Smith is the daughter of Millsaps professors Drs. Steve and Elise Smith (philosophy/religious studies and art history, respectively).