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Environmental Studies
University of Mississippi

Jay Watson

Catawba Falls trail, near Old Fort, NC

Professor Watson on the Catawba Falls trail, near Old Fort, North Carolina.

Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies and Professor of English
C211 Bondurant Hall

Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies Jay Watson, a native of Athens, Georgia, received his B.A. degree from the University of Georgia (1983) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1985, 1989). He joined the English department in 1989 and was promoted to Professor of English in 2007. During the 2002-2003 academic year he served as Visiting Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, and he has since been honored with the UM Faculty Achievement Award (2012), the UM Liberal Arts Professor of the Year award (2014), and the UM Humanities Teacher of the Year award (2014), and in 2013 he was a finalist for the Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year Award. His publications include two monographs, Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner (U of Georgia P, 1993) and Reading for the Body: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Southern Fiction, 1893-1985 (U of Georgia P, 2012), and seven edited or coedited collections: Conversations with Larry Brown (UP of Mississippi, 2007), Faulkner and Whiteness (UP of Mississippi, 2011), Faulkner’s Geographies (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Fifty Years after Faulkner (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas (UP of Mississippi, 2016), Faulkner and History (UP of Mississippi, 2017), and Faulkner and Print Culture (UP of Mississippi, 2017), with two more coedited collections in production. His articles on southern literature and film, law and humanities, and psychoanalytic theory have appeared or will appear in PMLA, American Quarterly, American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, American Imago, Mississippi Quarterly, Southern Quarterly, The Faulkner Journal, The Flannery O’Connor Review, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, and numerous other journals and essay collections, including American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary, Faulkner and the Media Ecology, The Cambridge Companion to American Fiction after 1945, William Faulkner in Context, Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South, Approaches to Teaching the Works of Cormac McCarthy, and the Cambridge History of the Literature of the U.S. South. He was a co-founder and, from 1995 to 2000, co-editor of Journal x: A Journal in Culture and Criticism. From 2009 to 2012 he served as President of the William Faulkner Society, and since 2012 he has directed the annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha conference at the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Susan, have two children, Katherine and Judson.

Ph.D., Harvard University
M.A., Harvard University
B.A., University of Georgia

Research and Interests:
My research and teaching focuses on the literature and culture of the U.S. South, including issues of environmental justice, environmental racism, and the ethics of land-use that arise out of the history and culture of the region. I have recently completed a book manuscript, William Faulkner and the Faces of Modernity, that includes a section on Faulkner as an imaginative chronicler of agricultural and other forms of rural modernization in the South. For my next book project, I am contemplating a study of a phenomenon I am calling “environmental lost cause-ism,” at the interface of southern studies, African American studies, Native American studies, and environmental studies. I also serve as faculty co-adviser to the U of M chapter of Students for a Green Campus.

Selected Publications:
—Jay Watson, “The Other Matter of the South, PMLA 131.1 (January 2016): 157-161
—Jay Watson, “Economics of a Cracker Landscape: Poverty as an Environmental Issue in Two Southern Writers,” Mississippi Quarterly 55.4 (Fall 2002): 497-513. Partially reprinted as “Economics of the Cracker Landscape: Poverty as an Environmental Issue in Larry Brown’s Joe,” in Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South, ed. Jean W. Cash and Keith Perry (Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2008): 49-57.
—Jay Watson, “Student Journaling in the Environmental Literature Classroom: Pedagogical Dispatches from Mississippi,” under review at ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment