Athens, Ga. – Richard J. Gray, a professor of literature at the University of Essex in England and the first specialist in American literature to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy, will be in residence at the University of Georgia from Feb. 16 to 20 as the first Barbara Lester Methvin Visiting Distinguished Professor of Southern Literature.
Gray is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, among them Literature of Memory: Modern Writers of the American South (1977), Writing the South: Ideas of an American Region (1986), American Poetry of the Twentieth Century (1990), Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography (1994), and most recently A Web of Words: The Great Dialogue of Southern Literature, published in 2007 by the University of Georgia Press.
Gray will present a lecture, “‘Maybe Nothing Ever Happens Once and Is Finished’: Some Notes on Recent Southern Writing and Social Change,” on Tuesday, Feb. 17, at 4 p.m. in the Miller Learning Center, room 148. The event is open free to the public.
Gray began teaching at Essex in 1969. He has also edited two anthologies of American poetry and collections of essays on American fiction and Robert Penn Warren. He has written a number of articles on American prose and poetry of the last two centuries, and has contributed essays to books on Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, the American South and American Studies. He is a regular reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement, The Times Higher Education Supplement, Notes and Queries, and the Modern Language Review, editor of the Journal of American Studies and is a consulting editor to American Literary History.
A native of Dooly County, Ga., Barbara Methvin and her future husband, Eugene Methvin, became engaged while she was a junior at Vienna High School, and Eugene was a senior at UGA. They married in 1958 after she completed two years at Wesleyan and LaGrange colleges and he completed duty as an Air Force fighter pilot.
Barbara Methvin earned a degree in dramatic arts from George Washington University and acted in several theater companies in the Washington, D.C., area where she and her husband settled. She taught high school English and dramatic arts, and she and her husband had two daughters.
She later earned a master’s degree in English from George Mason University and became a professional tutor for learning-disabled students and for college-bound students at Washington area private schools. She traveled widely with her husband during his years on the staff of Reader’s Digest. She was also a devoted Faulkner scholar and a member of the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics.
Barbara Methvin died in March 2000, and her husband established the fund for the professorship in her memory in 2001.
During his visit in Athens, Gray will visit with selected graduate students in English and history, meet with several classes and take part in a panel discussion.