Starkville native named Eudora Welty Fellow

Caroline Brandon
Staff Writer

Starkville native and current Mississippi State University graduate student Caroline Brandon has been named the 2018 Eudora Welty Fellow and will use the $2,000 award to allow her to work in the Eudora Welty Collection at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson this summer.

“Eudora Welty depicted strong female characters in her fiction,” Brandon said. “I want to follow changes the author made as she developed the stories to see if her revisions add complexity to those female protagonists or limit them to better align with societal expectations.”

Established by MDAH and the Eudora Welty Foundation, the fellowship seeks to encourage and support research use of the Eudora Welty Collection—the world’s finest grouping of materials related to Welty and one of the most varied literary collections in the United States. It includes manuscripts, letters, photographs, drawings, essays, and film and video footage that spans Welty’s entire life.

“We're grateful to the Welty Foundation for their continuing support and excited that another highly qualified fellow will make extensive use of the Welty Collection in July,” said David Pilcher, director of the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division.

Brandon is a Starkville High School graduate and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in English literature from Millsaps College in 2015. While there she won the Robert H. Padgett English Award and was a Ford Fellow, working under the direction of Welty biographer Suzanne Marrs. Brandon taught English and French at Germantown High School in Madison for two years. She is working toward an M.A. in English literature at Mississippi State University, where she is the recipient of the Howell H. and Elizabeth S. Gwin Endowed Scholarship.

"I think it is a really great opportunity to conduct research on archival material that we just don't have for many authors," Brandon said. "Research is challenging and often leads to unpredicted conclusions. I know this experience will be extremely beneficial in completing my thesis in the coming year."

Brandon said after she finishes her master's degree, she plans to continue her education and get her PhD, and then she wants to become a college professor.

“Many current studies of Welty attempt to uncover subtle social and political implications of her writing,” Brandon said. “Given the increasingly important movements involving women in the present day, Welty’s fiction can offer valuable insights into the roles of females who are marginalized by society.”

Brandon said when she first learned she was name a 2018 Eudora Welty Fellow, she was excited and relieved.

"I had a plan for my summer and my thesis," Brandon said. "I started studying Welty during my undergraduate, so this fellowship has been a goal of mine for several years."

Beginning in 1957, and over the course of more than forty years, Welty donated materials to the department, primarily literary manuscripts and photographs. At her death the remainder of her papers were bequeathed to MDAH and included unpublished manuscripts and 14,000 items of correspondence with family, friends, scholars, young writers, and noted writers.