American Landscapes: Meditations on Art and Literature in a Changing World

American Landscapes: Meditations on Art and Literature in a Changing World
Book Launch Schedule

American Landscapes

New publication commemorates the 175th anniversary of the University of Mississippi on November 6, 1848.


On View

  • Recent Acquisitions, 2012Present
    features Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America (1987), William Dunlap
    On view through March 23, 2024
    University of Mississippi Museum
  •  I’m Still Here”: Documenting James Meredith
    Exhibition of Photographs by Suzi Altman
    October 23November 17, 2023
    Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Great Room


Book Launch Events



12:00 pm              
SouthTalks: Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America
William Dunlap and W. Ralph Eubanks
Light Lunch Provided by Friends of the Museum
Discussion begins at noon
University of Mississippi Museum
book will be available for purchase at this event

 2:00 pm           
Casey Cep and Kathryn Schulz in Conversation with John T. Edge
Overby Center Auditorium

 3:00 pm           
Reception for “
I’m Still Here”: Documenting James Meredith 
Exhibition of Photographs by Suzi Altman
Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College Great Room

 5:00 pm           
Making Art and Making Books
A Conversation with William Dunlap, Ke Francis, and J. Richard Gruber
Refreshments Provided by Friends of the Museum
Southside Gallery




9:30 am           
Artists of the South | 21st Century Southern Art Museums
Richard Gruber | An art museum director, curator, and author in conversation on issues related to Southern artists and the role of Southern art museums in the contemporary world, including a consideration of the significance and place of William Dunlap’s Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America
University of Mississippi Museum

 1:00 pm            
Celebrating American Landscapes
and the 175th Anniversary of University of Mississippi
Lyric Theater

Julia Thornton, President, Board of The Friends of the Museum
Curtis Wilkie
America at a Crossroad
Judy Woodruff
Casey Cep and Judy Woodruff
The University of Mississippi Yesterday and Today
Ethel Young Scurlock

3:00–5:00 pm
Book Signing by American Landscapes Artists and Authors 
Lyric Theater                               

6:00 pm           
Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
William Dunlap, Richard Gruber and Ke Francis in conversation
The Rising Star Fife & Drum Band with Sharde Thomas
Hosts: Jim Dees and The Yalobushwhackers House Band
Lyric Theater

The acquisition of William Dunlap’s Meditations on the Origins of Agriculture in America was funded by the Dille Fund of the Mississippi Arts Commission, Friends of the Museum, and the artist. The University of Mississippi Museum, the University Foundation, the University Lecture Fund, Friends of the Museum, and the National Park Service through the North Mississippi Regional Heritage Alliance provided support for the 2019 exhibition, symposium, and related activities.

Joining these donors in funding the 2023 book launch are sponsors listed below.

  • Office of the Provost
  • Center for the Study of Southern Culture
  • Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College
  • Department of Writing & Rhetoric
  • Square Books, Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
  • Oxford Tourism Council

 ATTENDANCE AT ALL PROGRAM EVENTS IS FREE – Schedule is subject to change.

Read the press release and book reviews here!


American Landscapes Launch Speakers


Casey Cep is a staff writer at The New Yorker. Her first book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, was an instant New York Times best-seller and named one of the best books of 2019 by the Washington Post and others. Furious Hours, NPR’s Ilana Masad said, “delivers a gripping, incredibly well-written portrait of not only Harper Lee, but also of mid-20th century Alabama—and a still-unanswered set of crimes to rival the serial killers made infamous in the same time period.” “Cep’s book is a marvel,” Lucas Wittmann writes in Time. “In elegant prose, she gives us the fullest story yet of Lee’s post-Mockingbird life . . . an account emotionally attuned to the toll that great writing takes, and shows that sometimes one perfect book is all we can ask for, even while we wish for another.” Cep is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Oxford, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar. She was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, where she now lives with her wife, fellow New Yorker staff writer Kathryn Schulz, and their young daughter. 

William Dunlap is an artist, arts advocate, and writer. The American landscape, its flora, and fauna, are essential elements in Dunlap’s art, as are certain iconic Old Masters, such as Rembrandt’s series of self-portraits, from which he quotes in paintings and constructions. In a career spanning more than half a century, Dunlap has exhibited internationally and appears in numerous public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, and the Mississippi Museum of Art. His work has been seen in United States embassies throughout the world. Among his numerous publications are Homecomings, with Willie Morris (1989); Dunlap, a monograph of his work published by the University Press of Mississippi (2006); Short Mean Fiction: Words and Pictures (2017); Pappy Kitchens and the Saga of Red Eye the Rooster (2019); and Lying and Making a Living: Fiction and Footnotes (2021). Dunlap was born in Webster County, Mississippi, and received his BS in art from Mississippi College and an MFA in sculpture and printmaking from the University of Mississippi. He maintains studios in Coral Gables, Florida, and Mathiston, Mississippi. 

John T. Edge directs the Mississippi Lab and serves the Southern Foodways Alliance as founding director at the University of Mississippi. A distinguished visiting professor in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, he teaches in their low-residency MFA program in narrative nonfiction. Edge hosts the television show TrueSouth, which airs on the SEC Network and ESPN. A longtime columnist for Garden & Gun, Edge wrote the “United Tastes” column for the New York Times for three years and served the Oxford American as a columnist for twenty-two years. Twice winner of the MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award from the James Beard Foundation, he is author of The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, named a best book of 2017 by NPR, Publishers Weekly, and a host of others. Nashville selected the book as a citywide read for 2018. His current project is restoring part of William Faulkner’s Greenfield Farm, where he raised mules, and transforming the place into the first stipend-supported nonprofit writers residency in the Deep South. Greenfield Farm is one of the projects Edge directs to generate and support creative projects at the University of Mississippi, where he earned an MA in Southern Studies before receiving an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. 

W. Ralph Eubanks is the author of A Place Like Mississippi: A Journey through a Real and Imagined Literary Landscape (2021), a book of photographs and essays exploring the many ways the state’s landscape has informed the work of some of America’s most treasured authors. He is also the author of The House at the End of the Road: The Story of Three Generations of an Interracial Family in the American South (2009) and Ever Is a Long Time: A Journey into Mississippi’s Dark Past (2007). He has contributed articles to the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the New Yorker, and National Public Radio, among others. He is a recipient of a 2007 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, has been a fellow at the New America Foundation, and was the 2021–2022 Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. Eubanks is the former editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia and served as director of publishing at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, from 1995 to 2013. In February 2023 he was awarded the Mississippi Governor’s Arts Award for excellence in literature and as a cultural ambassador for Mississippi. Currently he is the Black Power at Ole Miss faculty fellow at the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. 

Ke Francis is a narrative artist who has been actively producing artwork for more than fifty years. He expresses his creativity through various media, including printmaking, painting, sculpture, bookbinding and printing, and writing short stories and poetry. He views his diverse range of skills simply as tools to explore a narrative. He has traveled around the world and recorded images and stories as raw material for his work. Much of it reflects the environment and culture of the Southeastern United States, where he has spent most of his life. In his artwork, Francis evokes the tragic effects of disaster while simultaneously celebrating the resiliency of the human spirit. His works are in over thirty major public and private international collections. He and his wife, Mary, are co-owners of Hoopsnake Press, founded in Tupelo, Mississippi, in 1970, a fine art press that publishes artist books and prints. 

Richard Gruber is director emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and active as an independent art historian, writer, and curator. He also served as director of the Wichita Art Museum, director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, deputy director of the Morris Museum of Art, and director of its Center for the Study of Southern Painting. He has published more than forty-five books and catalogs, including Dunlap: William Dunlap (2006); Dusti Bongé, Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York (2019); A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana (2012); The Art of the South, 1890–2003: The Ogden Museum of Southern Art (2004); Thomas Hart Benton and the American South (1998); William Christenberry: The Early Years, 1954–1968 (1998); and Robert Rauschenberg: Major Printed Works (1995). He has curated more than forty exhibitions, including William Dunlap—Objects: Found and Fashioned. He also was the executive producer of William Dunlap: Objects Found and Fashioned and three other award-winning documentary films He also has been the executive producer of William Dunlap: Objects Found and Fashioned and three other award-winning documentary films produced in association with Stanley Staniski and Staniski Media, Washington, DC. 

Kathryn Schulz has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 2015, covering a wide variety of topics from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden to brown marmorated stinkbugs. In 2016, she won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing and a National Magazine Award for “The Really Big One,” her article on the risk of a major earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest. The Pulitzer committee described the article as “an elegant scientific narrative” and “a masterwork of environmental reporting and writing.” Previously, she was the book critic for New York, the editor of the environmental magazine Grist, and a reporter and editor at the Santiago Times. She was a 2004 recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism and has reported from Central and South America, Japan, and the Middle East. She is the author of the books Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error (2010) and Lost & Found: Reflections on Grief, Gratitude, and Happiness, winner of the 2023 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir or Biography. Lost & Found grew out of “Losing Streak,” a New Yorker story anthologized in The Best American Essays. Her work has also appeared in The Best American Science and Nature Writing, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best American Food Writing

Ethel Young Scurlock is dean of the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College, associate professor of English and African American Studies, and senior fellow of the Luckyday Residential College. A Memphis native, she earned her BA in English from the University of Tennessee and MA and PhD from Bowling Green State University of Ohio. She became a faculty member at the University of Mississippi in 1996 and has published numerous articles and reviews of African American literature in signal publications. Her excellence in teaching is notable, being named the College of Liberal Arts Teacher of the Year in 2003, UM Humanities Teacher of the Year, and the Elsie M. Hood Outstanding Teacher Award in 2011. A 2013–2014 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program Fellow, she has also been recognized by the Mississippi House of Representatives for her work to promote diversity. In addition to being an award-winning teacher and outstanding leader in education, she is the pastor of two small Baptist Churches in Mississippi and author of Trusting in God in Crisis, Chaos, and Confusion

Curtis Wilkie is a Mississippi-born journalist, author, and professor who has chronicled the changing South since 1963. During his career, Wilkie also covered presidential campaigns, the White House, the Middle East, and major events of the twentieth century in both the United States and abroad. He joined the staff of the Boston Globe in 1975 and served as a national and foreign correspondent for that paper until retirement at the end of the 2000 presidential campaign. He joined the journalism faculty at the University of Mississippi in 2002 and taught there until his retirement at the end of 2020. Among Wilkie’s books are Dixie: A Personal Odyssey through Events That Shaped the Modern South (2001), The Fall of the House of Zeus: The Rise and Ruin of America’s Most Powerful Trial Lawyer (2010), Assassins, Eccentrics, Politicians, and Other Persons of Interest: Fifty Pieces from the Road (2014), with Thomas Oliphant The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-year Campaign (2017), and When Evil Lived in Laurel: The White Knights and the Murder of Vernon Dahmer (2020). 

Judy Woodruff is a senior correspondent and the former anchor and managing editor of PBS NewsHour. During 2023 and 2024, she is developing the PBS series America at a Crossroads to better understand the country’s political divide. She has covered politics and other news for more than five decades at CNN, NBC, and PBS. Her reporting career began in Atlanta, Georgia, where she covered state and local government. At NBC News, Woodruff was White House correspondent from 1977 to 1982, when her book This is Judy Woodruff at the White House was published. At PBS from 1983 to 1993, she was the chief Washington correspondent for the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. Moving to CNN in 1993, she served as anchor and senior correspondent for 12 years. In 2005, she was a visiting fellow at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy. In 2006, she was a visiting professor at Duke University’s Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy. She returned to the NewsHour in 2007, and in 2013, she and the late Gwen Ifill were named the first two women to co-anchor a national news broadcast. After Ifill’s death, Woodruff was named sole anchor. Woodruff is a founding cochair of the International Women’s Media Foundation, an organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging women in journalism and communication industries worldwide. She is the recent recipient of an Emmy Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Radcliffe Medal, the Poynter Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Journalism, the Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism from Arizona State University. She is the recipient of more than 25 honorary degrees.