Howry Professor of Faulkner Studies Jay Watson, a native of Athens, Georgia, received his B.A. degree from the University of Georgia (1983) and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University (1985, 1989). He joined the English department in 1989, was promoted to Professor of English in 2007, and became UM’s second Howry Professor in 2010. During the 2002-2003 academic year he served as Visiting Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, and he has since been honored with the UM Faculty Achievement Award (2012), the UM Liberal Arts Professor of the Year award (2014), and the UM Humanities Teacher of the Year award (2014). In 2013 he was a finalist for the Southeastern Conference Professor of the Year Award, and in 2018 he was the fall convocation speaker at UM.
Professor Watson’s publications include three monographs, Forensic Fictions: The Lawyer Figure in Faulkner (U of Georgia P, 1993) Reading for the Body: The Recalcitrant Materiality of Southern Fiction, 1893-1985 (U of Georgia P, 2012), and William Faulkner and the Faces of Modernity (Oxford UP, 2019), and his current book project is Fossil-Fuel Faulkner: Energy and Modernity in the US South. He has also edited or coedited eleven published or forthcoming collections: Conversations with Larry Brown (UP of Mississippi, 2007), Faulkner and Whiteness (UP of Mississippi, 2011), Faulkner’s Geographies (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Fifty Years after Faulkner (UP of Mississippi, 2015), Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas (UP of Mississippi, 2016), Faulkner and History (UP of Mississippi, 2017), Faulkner and Print Culture (UP of Mississippi, 2017), Faulkner and the Native South (UP of Mississippi, 2019), Faulkner and Money (UP of Mississippi, 2019), Faulkner and Slavery (UP of Mississippi, forthcoming 2021) and Faulkner’s Families (UP of Mississippi, forthcoming 2021). His articles on southern literature and film, law and humanities, and psychoanalytic theory have appeared or will appear in PMLA, American Quarterly, American Literature, Modern Fiction Studies, American Imago, Mississippi Quarterly, Southern Quarterly, The Faulkner Journal, The Flannery O’Connor Review, The Cormac McCarthy Journal, and numerous other journals and essay collections, including American Cinema and the Southern Imaginary, Faulkner and the Media Ecology, The Cambridge Companion to American Fiction after 1945, William Faulkner in Context, Cormac McCarthy in Context, Larry Brown and the Blue-Collar South, Approaches to Teaching the Works of Cormac McCarthy, The Cambridge History of the Literature of the U.S. South, Ecocriticism and the Future of Southern Studies, and New Faulkner Studies. He was a co-founder and, from 1995 to 2000, co-editor of Journal x: A Journal in Culture and Criticism. From 2009 to 2012 he served as President of the William Faulkner Society, and since 2011 he has directed the annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha conference at the University of Mississippi. He and his wife, Susan, have two grown children, Kat and Judson.