English Professor's New Book Wins Eudora Welty Prize; Book Signing Friday

English Professor's New Book Wins Eudora Welty Prize; Book Signing Friday
Kelly L. Dunn

Casey Kayser, assistant professor of English and director of the Medical Humanities program, has been awarded the prestigious Eudora Welty Prize for her new book Marginalized: Southern Women Playwrights Confront Race, Region, and Gender, which was published by the University Press of Mississippi in September 2021.

Each year, the Mississippi University for Women and the University Press of Mississippi collaborate to award the Welty Prize for an outstanding work of literary scholarship on women's studies, Southern studies or modern letters in honor of MUW's most famous alumna, writer Eudora Welty.

Kayser will be recognized and read from her book at the Eudora Welty Writers' Symposium, which will be held Oct. 21-23 on MUW's campus. The theme this year is "'All They Saw Was at the Point of Coming Together': A Confluence of Southern Writers," inspired by Welty's novel The Optimist's Daughter.

book cover of MarginalizedIn contrast to other literary genres, drama has received little attention in Southern studies, and women playwrights in general receive less recognition than their male counterparts. In Marginalized: Southern Women Playwrights Confront Race, Region, and Gender, Kayser addresses these gaps by examining the work of Southern women playwrights, making the argument that representations of the American South on stage are complicated by difficulties of identity, genre and region.

Through analysis of the dramatic texts, the rhetoric of reviews of productions, as well as what the playwrights themselves have said about their plays and productions, Kayser delineates these challenges and argues that playwrights draw on various conscious strategies in response. These strategies, evident in the work of such playwrights as Pearl Cleage, Sandra Deer, Lillian Hellman, Beth Henley, Marsha Norman and Shay Youngblood, provide them with the opportunity to lead audiences to reconsider monolithic understandings of northern and southern regions and, ultimately, create new visions of the South.

The U of A Campus Bookstore will be hosting a book signing with Kayser from 3-5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24.

"The Eudora Welty Prize is a great honor for Dr. Kayser, and Dr. Kayser is a great prize for the English Department," said William Quinn, chair of the Department of English.

Kayser joined the U of A faculty in fall 2012. She teaches courses in literature and medical humanities and directs the Medical Humanities program. She also co-leads the Theatre in London Study Abroad program with Shawn Irish, associate professor of theatre.

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