It’s been a summer full of travel for me! I’m looking forward to a few weeks with my feet planted firmly on the ground.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to present a paper at the University of Mississippi, Ole Miss, at the 22nd Annual Southern Writers, Southern Writing Graduate Conference. It was an honor to be included in the conference and present work amongst such talented, inquisitive students from all over the globe.
I’ve wanted to see the Ole Miss campus for years and it did not disappoint. Coming from the urban campus of VCU, I really enjoyed visiting a campus with so much green space, magnolia trees, and an enclosed campus within a picturesque college town. The history of Ole Miss, a campus that opened its doors in 1848, is apparent, even just walking around taking in the architecture and buildings. Additionally, I’m impressed with the university’s reverence to its history and the violence therein; it’s not hidden from visitors, but is instead presented as events from which the university, student population, and state learned and grew, specifically in the case of James Meredith and campus integration. Seeing the statue of Meredith and associated monument dedicated to equality through education gives me hope despite today’s political climate.
We were also able to visit Oxford’s town square, which is quaint and vibrant in its independent businesses. I finally got to cross Square Books off my list of famous bookstores visited and enjoyed my time perusing its collection, even picking up a signed copy of Lee Smith’s latest book Dimestore. A trip to Oxford wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Faulkner’s home, Rowan Oak, and it was even more lovely than photos online. Most of the rooms and vast grounds are maintained to how Faulkner left them, and it was impressive to see the care taken in preserving the writer’s legacy.
Finally, this was a trip that landed us in Memphis before the drive to Oxford, which means it was a perfect opportunity to pay homage to another southern icon… the King himself. Savannah, my traveling buddy for the conference who presented a stellar paper of her own, and I bought tickets to tour Graceland before driving the 80 miles to Oxford. It was worth every penny to see the house, infamous Jungle Room, and wall of gold records. The memorabilia from Elvis’s Sun Records years was my favorite.
A few photos from the trip are available at the end of this post. Get yourself to Oxford if you haven’t had the opportunity to visit. You won’t be sorry.