OXFORD, Miss. (AP) _ The 40th annual Faulkner & Yoknapatawpha Conference will look at the black literature of the western hemisphere and the relationship between it and author William Faulkner.

The conference begins Sunday in Oxford.

“The subjects of racial identity, race relations and African-American figures in Faulkner’s work have been addressed numerous times in the history of our conference, but never this incredibly rich conversation between Faulkner’s literature and the black literatures of the western hemisphere,” Jay Watson, director of the annual Faulkner conference, tells the Oxford Eagle (http://bit.ly/bxMH7X ).

Keynote lectures and panel sessions are free and open to the public.

The conference examines writers such as W.E.B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt and Jean Toomer who may have helped influence Faulkner and contemporary writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright and Claude McKay who write on the historical events and same cultural questions today that Faulkner once had.

“We want to examine his impact on the many black artists who have encountered and responded to his work since his death in 1962.

“Moreover, we hope to complement an emphasis on influence _ who read whom, who is responding to or arguing with whose work _ with careful attention to the confluences that run between Faulkner’s writings and the black literary traditions of the Americas: responses to common phenomena, challenges, problems. It should be an exciting discussion,” Watson said.

Around 150 to 200 people are expected to attend this year’s conference. The conference runs through Thursday.

The conference will begin Sunday with a reception at the University Museum honoring photographer Alain Desvergnes and his exhibition featuring his black-and-white photographs of the Oxford and Lafayette County area from the early 1960s, when Desvergnes taught photography at the University of Mississippi. Many of these images were collected in the 1990 volume “Yoknapatawpha: The Land of William Faulkner.” The reception is set for 1 p.m.

Also on exhibit at the University Museum is Ed Croom’s images of Faulkner’s home called “The Intimate Landscape of Rowan Oak.” The exhibit will have an opening reception Sunday at 1 p.m.

The academic program begins at 2:30 p.m. at Nutt Auditorium on the campus of the University of Mississippi with a talk from Kenneth Warren on Faulkner and the Liberal Imagination. A roundtable discussion will be held at 4 p.m. before conference attendees have their annual dinner on the lawn at Rowan Oak.

The official welcome will be given at 7: 30 p. m. back at Nutt Auditorium by Ole Miss Provost Morris Stocks and Mayor Pat Patterson.

Throughout the conference, the University library will display Faulkner books, manuscripts, photographs and memorabilia.


Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com