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Professor's curiosity spawns grant, symposium
While studying the works of novelist and poet Evelyn Scott, Associate English Professor Caroline Maun was intrigued by cryptic letters sent to the early 20th century writer. Those letters were from Charlotte Wilder, younger sister of playwright and novelist Thornton Wilder, who published two volumes of poetry in her lifetime and left a significant body of unpublished work.
“I looked up her books, which are fairly rare. I enjoyed the poetry and got to know her through her correspondence with Evelyn,” Maun said.
As she dug a litter deeper into Wilder’s life, Maun discovered some fascinating facts.
“Her story is really gripping. She was a member of an extraordinary literary family,” Maun said. “But later in her career, she had an emotional crisis. She was having economic trouble trying to make it as a writer in New York City. She ultimately was diagnosed with schizophrenia and spent time in a mental institution.”
The details of Wilder’s life and an interest in the work of female writers of the 20th century lead Maun on a journey to produce a complete edition of Wilder’s poetry. She received a Research Enhancement Program in the Arts and Humanities grant administered by the WSU Office of the Vice President for Research last year to support her in editing Wilder’s works.
The grant will also help fund the upcoming WSU Symposium on Scholarly Editing and Archival Research, an interdisciplinary conference inviting new perspectives on current practices in the editing and presentation of literary texts.
Maun said the free event is for anyone with an interest in editing or literature.
The symposium will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 26, at the Walter P. Reuther Library of Labor and Urban Affairs. Keynote speakers are Peter Quartermain, editor of Robert Duncan's Collected Early Poems and Plays and Collected Later Poems and Plays, and Martha Nell Smith, a leading Emily Dickinson scholar and founding director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland, College Park.