University of Mississippi (University, MS)

ms-um.jpg

Photo of a publication cover with an illustration of a man sitting

The Oxford Conference for the Book is an annual three-day gathering celebrating the literary arts in Oxford, Mississippi.

The Center for the Study of Southern Culture was established at the University of Mississippi in 1977. Since then, the Center has gained an international reputation for education and scholarship on the history, literature, music, art, and food of the American South. The Center sponsors several programs aimed at the general public as well, such as the Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha Conference, the Chancellor's History Symposium, and the Oxford Conference for the Book.

In FY 2004, the University of Mississippi received an NEA Creativity grant of $10,000 to support the 2004 Oxford Conference for the Book, April 1-4, 2004. The free conference, inaugurated by the Center in 1993, is a three-day gathering celebrating the literary arts. Since 1999, the conference has been broadcast on cable television as well, reaching an estimated 50,000 people. 

The 2004 conference included a tribute to renowned writer Walker Percy, to whom the conference was dedicated, and an annual session celebrating National Poetry Month. A special program honoring award-winning children's book author Mildred D. Taylor, including a governor's proclamation of April 2 as Mildred D. Taylor Day in Mississippi, drew approximately 1,100 people. In addition, there were numerous workshops and panels on the process of writing, getting published, and reaching an audience.

Writers participating in the conference included Roy Blount, Jr., Barry Hannah, and NEA Literature Fellows Kaye Gibbons, Beth Ann Fennelly, and William Jay Smith. The 2004 conference attendance was 300 to 500 people at almost all of the 17 sessions.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)