Skip to main content

Southern author Flannery O’Connor subject of Vanderbilt series

Jan. 14, 2009, 10:42 AM

The literature of Flannery O’Connor, especially the theology that informs it, will be examined during a series sponsored by the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture program at Vanderbilt Divinity School.

All the events are open to the public and free, except for a concert Feb. 19 at the Mercy Lounge, which costs $15.

O’Connor (1925-1964), one of America’s greatest fiction writers, was a staunch Roman Catholic and many of her stories focused on fundamentalist Protestants. She wrote the novels Wise Blood and The Violent Bear it Away and short story collections including Everything That Rises Must Converge. She won the National Book Award posthumously for The Complete Stories.

“There has been a surge of interest in O’Connor among musical artists looking for ways of talking about spiritual matters while keeping a firm hold on the flesh and bone of real life,” said Dave Perkins, administrative director of the Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture program. “One of our goals is to explore O’Connor’s method of creating art with theological intentionality.”

The series gets underway Monday, Jan. 26, with a lecture on “The Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor” by Victor Judge, registrar of the divinity school. On Monday, Feb. 2, O’Connor scholar Michael Kreyling, Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English, speaks on “Take Heed, Watch: The Meaning of the O’Connor Story Comes Like a Thief.” Both lectures will be held from 10:10 a.m. to 11 a.m. in the Art Room (G-20) of Vanderbilt Divinity School, 411 21st Ave. S.

A concert featuring Mary Gauthier, Old Black Kettle, Over the Rhine, Minton Sparks and actor Denice Hicks will be held at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 19, at the Mercy Lounge, 1 Cannery Road. The concert, which benefits the Flannery O’Connor-Andalusia Foundation, is titled “The Enduring Chill: Remembering Flannery O’Connor.” Tickets will be available at the door.

The series concludes on Friday, Feb. 20, with a roundtable discussion featuring Gauthier, Sparks, Linford Detweiler and Karin Berquist of Over the Rhine, and Julie Lee. The musicians will discuss “Shadows of the Word: Songwriters and Literary Legacies of Religion and Place.” The 1 p.m. discussion in the Art Room (G-20) of Vanderbilt Divinity School is free and open to the public.

Video of the Jan. 26, Feb. 2 and Feb. 20 events will be taped for podcast on VUCast, the website of Vanderbilt News Service, at

Media contact: Jim Patterson (615) 322-NEWS