Contact: Whitney Richter, Director of Marketing and Communications, Office of the Vice Provost for Research, 254-710-7539
Written by: Gary Stokes, Office of the Vice Provost for Research
WACO, Texas (October 1, 2018) – Dr. Sarah Gilbreath Ford, Baylor professor of English, recently received the Eudora Welty Society’s biennial Phoenix Award for 2017-18 in recognition of her contributions to Welty scholarship.
“I have, throughout my career, written a series of articles on Welty — academic papers in journals — trying to get more people to read her work, trying to get people to read her work differently,” Ford said. “I think, early on, she got pegged as a Southern writer, writing quaint, funny little stories. So I have worked along with my colleagues in Welty studies to make sure that people see her as a modernist who was interested in experimenting with narrative, who was well versed in all the literary movements of the day. I think she’s much more important — and much more cagey — than we give her credit for.”
Born in 1909 in Jackson, Mississippi, Eudora Welty became one of a handful of acclaimed female writers from the South whose works captured both the charm and the darker sides of Southern life during the early-to-mid 20th Century. She began her career as a photographer, capturing scenes of life in the South during the Great Depression and writing short reports about what she saw for the Works Progress Administration, part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal of the 1930s.
Welty soon turned to writing fiction out of a desire to tell the stories of the subjects of her photographs, producing numerous short stories and five novels over a life than spanned more than 90 years. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for her novella, The Optimist’s Daughter, and received many other awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Order of the South. In 1998, she became the first living author to have her works published in the highly esteemed Library of America series. Welty died in 2001.
The Eudora Welty Society was established in 1991 and is one of approximately 120 literary organizations within the American Literature Association that promote scholarship on the works of specific authors or genres. Ford joined the Society in 1997 while a graduate student and served as the Society’s president from 2014-2016. Georgia State University publishes the Eudora Welty Review.
“Weltyians,” as the author’s devotees refer to themselves, celebrate her birthday each April 23rd with parties and other informal observances. For her part, Ford bakes a coconut cake similar to one detailed in one of Welty’s novels and shares it with her students. This year, the occasion held a special treat for Ford.
“I had posted on Facebook it was Welty’s birthday, and one of my friends was like, well this is really funny because we’re about to give you a gift on Welty’s birthday. And so they told me on Welty’s birthday that I had won the [Phoenix] award. I actually got a gift on Welty’s birthday!”
The award is named for Phoenix Jackson, the principal character in Welty’s A Worn Path. Ford plans to write a book on Welty in the near future.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES
The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments and seven academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit www.baylor.edu/artsandsciences.
ABOUT THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PROVOST FOR RESEARCH
The Office of the Vice Provost for Research (OVPR) assists faculty members from all academic units in identifying, obtaining and managing the funding needed to support their research and scholarship. Internal 'seed' funding, matching grant proposal funding, searchable online funding databases, grant writing seminars, proposal support and trave awards to national funding agencies are only a portion of what is provided by the various units comprising the OVPR. Additionally, the Vice Provost for Research oversees the ethical conduct of research and assists researchers in maintaining compliance with applicable policies, laws and regulations as well as providing support in establishing interdisciplinary / international collaborations and industry partnerships.
The OVPR acts as Baylor's representative in pursuing partnerships and collaborative agreements with entities outside the university. The office negotiates sponsored research agreements with industry on behalf of faculty and pursues research, technology transfer and the commercialization of technology. The OVPR welcomes the opportunity to discuss collaborative research and scholarship pursuits that can advance the academic mission of Baylor University to achieve R1/T1 status.
The OVPR also manages and operates the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a three-story, 330,000-square-foot facility focused on interdisciplinary/international research, industry/university collaborations, business incubation/acceleration/commercialization, advanced workforce training and STEM educational research and outreach.