Events & Exhibits - Spring 2005

Flannery O’Connor Exhibit

To say that Rev. John J. (J.J.) Quinn, S.J. was an admirer of the work of Flannery O'Connor, the Catholic Southern writer who died fifty years ago, would be an understatement. Having written his dissertation on O'Connor, Father Quinn developed a personal relationship with the writer, having visited her mother in Georgia and corresponded with the writer herself over the course of a decade. Father Quinn, who served as the first Faculty Moderator of the University of Scranton's literary journal the Espirit, conceived the idea of publishing a special commerative issue of the Espirit (Volume 8, No. 1, Winter 1964) in honor of Flannery O'Connor, who died of lupus that year. Father Quinn set about soliciting commentary from numerous literary critics, college and university professors and professional writers who had knowledge of and interest in O'Connor's work. These "guest writers," among them Katherine Anne Porter, Saul Bellow, and Elizabeth Bishop, wrote brief, yet poignant tributes that comprise the first fifty pages of the issue. Additional literary criticism and original contributions as well as sketches and photographs by U of S students, comprise the remaining pages of the volume.
 
As is often the custom upon the passing of a member of the Jesuit community at Scranton, books and other memorabilia pertaining to an academic discipline are offered to the Weinberg Library. Upon Father Quinn's death in March of 2004, such was the case. With the assistance of Rev. Joseph Tylenda, S.J. and Rev. Bernard McIlhenney, S.J., books and papers were culled for titles which would be added to the library's collection. Among the items were many treasures related to Father Quinn's relationship with Flannery O'Connor. After examining the documents, it became apparent that an exhibit of Father's memorabilia, correspondence and personal copies of O'Connor's works would be a fitting tribute to the late Father Quinn and an opportunity to share these treasures with community. Library staff contacted the University's President Scott Pilarz, S.J. and Gerald Zaboski, Director of Public Relations, and a plan to invite an O'Connor scholar to "kick off" the display was formed.
 
Ralph C. Wood, University Professor of Theology and Literature at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has agreed to deliver a lecture entitled "Enduring Witness: A Celebration of the Legacy of John J. Quinn" on Tuesday, April 5, 2005, at 7 P.M. in the Heritage Room of the Weinberg Library. Dr. Wood has both a bachelor's and master's degree from East Texas State University, as well as a second master's degree and doctorate from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He serves as an editor at-large for the Christian Century and as a member of the editorial board for the Flannery O'Connor Review. In 1988 he wrote The Comedy of Redemption: Christian Faith and Comic Vision in Four American Novelists. Dr. Wood's most recent work, Flannery O'Connor and the Christ Haunted South, was published in 2004 by Wm B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.and has received unequivocal praise. Isobel Sherman, critic for the TLS Times Literary Supplement, notes that Wood "lovingly explores O'Connor's collected writing from the context in which she worked." She notes that Wood's literary analysis is "sensitively balanced and his theological dissection fills a void" in O'Connor criticism. The display of Quinn O'Connor Memorabilia and Correspondence will be unveiled that evening in the Heritage Room as well.
 
The lecture will be open to the public and the display will run through the month of April.
 
Betsey Moylan