William Sessions, a Conway native who recently retired as Regents Professor of English at Georgia State University, will give a public lecture about the life and work of his friend, the late writer Flannery O'Connor, on Monday, March 25 at 7 p.m. in the Edwards Recital Hall on the Coastal Carolina University campus. The lecture, titled "Trees That Walk: Understanding Flannery O'Connor," is free and open to the public.
Coastal theater students and faculty will give a public reading of one of Sessions' plays, The Star Gazer, the following evening, March 26, at 7 p.m., in Wall Auditorium. This event also is free and open to the public.
Sessions first met O'Connor, who ranks among the greatest American fiction writers, in 1954 at her home in Andalusia, Ga. They maintained a close friendship which ended when O'Connor died of lupus eight years later. Sessions has written extensively about O'Connor's life and work and is presently working on a biography about her.
"Flannery's most remarkable power was her capacity to turn her own suffering outward and to make even suffering sophisticated in her acceptance of the world around her," said Sessions. "Her life was filled with sophisticated acts that were unobtrusive but touched the hearts of those who knew her."
Sessions' play The Star Gazer, set in a Murrells Inlet restaurant in 1978, is about an Atlanta neurologist who returns to his boyhood home to resolve a mystery concerning a strange dream and its tragic consequences. This reading of Sessions' play features Robin Edwards-Russell, assistant professor of theater at Coastal, and Coastal theater students Amie Barr and Jason Adams.
Sessions earned a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was the founding editor of The Carolina Quarterly, and a master's degree and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He has published seven books including two on the Renaissance philosopher Francis Bacon. He has also written seven plays, and his play based on an incident in Conway during the Second World War, A Shattering of Glass, was a 1988 winner in the Festival of Southern Theatre. In 1967 he joined the faculty at Georgia State University, where he founded the doctoral program in English.
In 1992, he was named by the South Atlantic Modern Language Association Departments of English as Teacher of the Year among Ph.D.-granting institutions in the South Atlantic region. He also was named Georgia State University Alumni Distinguished Professor in 1994 and in 1996 was awarded an honorary degree by Coastal.
For more information, call 349-2439.