"There's a case of the sorry, shabby world that don't quite please you, so you create one of your own. . . ."
Faulkner in the University, 59
The Center for Faulkner Studies (CFS) is located at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. It is devoted to the study of the life and works of William Faulkner (1897–1962), the American author who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950. The Center was established in 1989, following the university’s acquisition of the Louis Daniel Brodsky collection of Faulkner materials. The founder of the CFS is Robert W. Hamblin, former professor of English at Southeast. He worked with Brodsky starting in 1979 to produce books, articles, lectures, and exhibits based on the materials in the collection. Dr. Christopher Rieger, assistant professor of English at Southeast, took Dr. Hamblin's place as the center's director in 2013. Dr. Hamblin is now assistant director for the center.
Louis Daniel Brodsky, a native of St. Louis, first studied Faulkner’s novels and stories in 1959 as a student in R. W. B. Lewis's course in American Studies at Yale University. Shortly thereafter, with the help of New Haven bookdealer Henry Wenning, he began to acquire first editions and inscribed copies of Faulkner's books. Over the next 30 years, Brodsky expanded his Faulkner holdings to include manuscripts, letters, movie scripts, legal documents, photographs, and drawings, as well as books. The story of the Brodsky Collection and its acquisition by Southeast Missouri State University is recounted in Nicholas Basbanes' A Gentle Madness, which treats a number of noted contemporary book collectors.
In addition to being an outstanding book collector, Brodsky was a noted Faulkner scholar and poet. He was the author of William Faulkner: Life Glimpses, a collection of biographical essays, and he is co-editor, with Robert W. Hamblin, of the five-volume Faulkner: A Comprehensive Guide to the Brodsky Collection, plus three additional volumes based upon materials in the collection. Brodsky also published more than 70 volumes of poetry, three of which--Mississippi Vistas, Disappearing in Mississippi Latitudes, and Mistress Mississippi—deal with Faulknerian themes, settings, and characters. His other poems include a five-volume series, Shadow War, treating the events and aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States; You Can't Go Back, Exactly, which won the 2004 Award for the Best Book of Poetry from the Center for Great Lakes Culture at Michigan State University; and Still Wandering in the Wilderness: Poems of the Jewish Diaspora. Louis Daniel Brodsky died in June 2014. A complete list of his poetry volumes can be found at the Time Being Books website. Brodsky's personal website includes a number of his Faulkner publications.
Housed in the Rare Book Room of Southeast Missouri State University's Kent Library, the Louis Daniel Brodsky William Faulkner Collection is one of the four largest gatherings of Faulkner materials in the world. (The others are housed at the University of Virginia, the University of Mississippi, and the University of Texas.) The Brodsky Collection includes:Over 2,000 pages of manuscript materials
More than 3,000 letters by or about Faulkner
Nearly 2,000 photographs
Over 1,000 pages relating to Faulkner's work as a screenwriter in Hollywood
A collection of visual artwork by and related to Faulkner
A large collection of criticism devoted to Faulkner's works
The Brodsky Collection also includes the Blotner Papers, the comprehensive file of research materials, interview notes, correspondence, and manuscripts compiled by Joseph Blotner during his work on Faulkner: A Biography. Since his passing, the center has received many of Brodsky's personal materials he collected over his lifetime as he devoted his life to the study of William Faulkner. These documents are currently under review at the CFS.
The Center for Faulkner Studies is also the repository for the materials assembled by Jane Isbell Haynes, a Faulkner scholar and collector. Haynes is the author of William Faulkner: His Tippah County Heritage and William Faulkner: His Lafayette County Heritage.
The CFS sponsors and supports educational, scholarly, and public service projects related to William Faulkner, the South, and American and world literature. Research scholars from throughout the United States and a dozen other countries have conducted research at the Center. The Center regularly hosts visits from Chinese scholars studying Faulkner. Every two years the CFS hosts a conference on Faulkner and another writer. The 2006 conference featured Faulkner and Mark Twain, the 2008 conference focused on Faulkner and Kate Chopin, and the 2010 conference featured Faulkner and Toni Morrison. The 2012 conference was dedicated to Faulkner and Robert Penn Warren while the 2014 conference was dedicated to Faulkner and Zora Neale Hurston. The upcoming conference that will be held in 2016 will be concerning Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway. The proceedings of these conferences are published by Southeast Missouri State University Press. The center selects submitted essays from Faulkner scholars who have presented at the most recent conference. Those essays are then published in the center's book on the conference. The Faulkner Center also publishes the Teaching Faulkner newsletter, which provides a network of information for high school, college, and university teachers of Faulkner’s works. Along with publishing their newsletter, the CFS offers Massive Open Online Classes (MOOC) which offer free enrollment.
In conjunction with Southeast Missouri State University and the Center for Faulkner Studies, BioKyowa, Inc., sponsors a Visiting Japanese Scholar Program. The program brings one Japanese scholar each year to the Southeast campus to conduct research in the Brodsky Collection and to participate in various types of cultural exchanges. The BioKyowa Visiting Japanese Scholar Program is designed to honor the special relationship that Faulkner developed with citizens of Japan during an official visit to the country on behalf of the U.S. Department of State in 1955. Since then almost all of Faulkner's works have been published in Japanese translations, and today there is a thriving interest in Faulkner's works among Japanese readers and scholars.
Participants in the program must be Japanese natives who are faculty members or graduate students at a Japanese university and who have a demonstrable interest in the life and works of William Faulkner. While at Southeast, the visiting scholar, in addition to conducting research, delivers a public lecture on some aspect of Japanese or American literature and/or visits with a number of classes related to his or her academic area. The length of the visit is ordinarily one to two weeks (but may be longer) and is scheduled at a time that is mutually satisfactory to both the visiting scholar and the Center for Faulkner Studies.