Tag Archive for: Dr. Kate Stewart

NEMiss.News Museum Moments for 8-18-2022


Young Detectives of Nancy Drew and Chick Mallison are the topics of August 18, 12 noon, Museum Moments at the Union County Heritage Museum.  Dr. Kate Stewart, Ph.D. is the guest speaker.

A native of the Cotton Plant area, Stewart graduated from New Albany High School and the University of Mississippi.  She is currently an English  professor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

Her expertise in Faulkner and pop culture bring an interesting perspective to the 2022 Literary Fest.

The museum is located at114 Cleveland Street in New Albany.

The event is free and the Union County Master Gardeners will furnish a sack lunch.  For more information call the museum at 662-538-0014.

Jill Smith, Director

Union County Heritage Museum
114 Cleveland Street
New Albany, MS 38652

Cotton Plant native and Union County’s unofficial resident Faulkner authority Dr. Kate Stewart delved into some of the mystery writing of the Nobel Prize-winning author at the Union County Heritage Museum this past week.

Stewart, a professor at the University of Arkansas-Monticello, talked about Faulkner’s Knight’s Gambit.

The book is a collection of short stories featuring attorney Gavin Stevens, who plays a significant role in Intruder in the Dust.

Described as mysteries rather than detective stories, they appeared in various periodicals and were finally collected in 1949 to loosely serve as a novel.

The printing was marked by semi-lurid paperback covers and described as “tales of crime and guilt and love.”

Stewart said the stories are not as lurid as the book cover, but rather showcase Stevens’ insight and ingenious detection.

Knight’s Gambit is not one of Faulkner’s more popular or better-known stories in that she said only about 50 critical works about it have been published. Most Faulkner works number in the thousands in terms of papers and studies.

One of Faulker’s friends (and one of his pallbearers) described the book as “a kind of refuse bin for second-rate material when Faulkner had little else to show for the 1940s.”

“Most agree Faulkner did his best work in the 1930s,” she said.

Stewart noted that Knight’s Gambit was done after Faulkner had been doing screenplays for Hollywood – most notably Raymond Chandler’s classic, The Big Sleep.

She said he likely had been influenced by the film noir trend at the time, as well as the marketability of popular fiction over more classic literature.

Faulkner was supposedly talking with historian Shelby Foote about the wisdom of venturing into screenplays and Foote’s advice was, “Go ahead and take the money.”

If the 1940s, when Knights’ Gambit was done, represent Faulkner’s decline, several reasons are usually given.

One, she said, was that he didn’t have anything to write about. She finds it incredible that he would not have anything to write about and she rejects that.

Another reason given is alcoholism. But Stewart said, “He was a binge drinker. He would often go on a tear on finishing a novel.” That doesn’t mean he drank regularly or continually.

A third reason is that Hollywood may have distracted him. There was Intruder in the Dust as well as Chandler’s work, Land of the Pharaohs, Gunga Din and others.

He reportedly got along well with director Howard Hawks but didn’t like working there. As he got older he may have become more curmudgeonly, turning down an invitation to the White House. “I’m too old to travel that far for supper,” he reportedly said.

Faulkner faced something else that other writers may have experienced.

“They were critically acclaimed, but nobody bought them,” Stewart said of his novels. The Depression may have influenced this.

“People tend to think big, beefy novels are more important than short stories,” she said, but added that “short stories are harder. You have to get in quickly. There is less wiggle room.”

Stewart said almost nothing specific about the short stories in Knight’s Gambit, not wanting to spoil the mysteries. She did say that “people either love Gavin Stevens – or think he talks too much.”

Although written separately, she said the six stories are interconnected with Stevens’ nephew, a chess player, helping to tie them together. And chess does play its role, including being the title of the last and longest of the stories.

She reiterated that the stories are mysteries rather than detective stories, but still said that in each story Stevens has to get at the truth. “He is one who seeks justice and truth,” she said.

While Stewart said she has a love-hate relationship with popular fiction, she appeared to be fond of the Knight’s Gambit mysteries, even to the point of deciding to teach it rather than The Reivers.

“Faulkner is writing about everything going on in American right now,” she said. “He is still relevant.


NEMiss.News Museum Moments review of Knight's Gambit


Events are lining up for the annual Faulkner Literary Fest which begins in July and continues through the summer with events and activities focusing on all things literary.

Dr. Kate Stewart at Museum Moments

Dr. Kate Stewart, Ph.D. will review one of Faulkner’s more obscure books, Knight’s Gambit, at the Union County Heritage Museum on Thursday, July 15, at noon.

Knight’s Gambit is a 1949 short story collection including six of Faulkner’s stories about attorney Gavin Stevens, who also takes a leading part in his novel Intruder in the Dust. One of the stories is also called Knight’s Gambit.

The first five stories were published in magazines and when the sixth came out they were all combined into one publication that some consider a novel.

A light lunch will be provided to attendees of Museum Moments by the Museum Guild beginning at 11:30.  The event is free thanks to the museum’s Community Partners.

Stewart, a Faulkner Scholar, is an English Professor at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.  “The Cotton Plant native is a regular and much-enjoyed speaker during the fest in New Albany.  Her presentations have a lot of depth and she also has a great sense of humor,” said Jill Smith, museum director.

Writing for Children workshop and Faulkner Literary Competition

“We are happy to be presenting Museum Moments and the Writing for Children workshop on July 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  – cost $30,  as part of the  community’s annual emphasis on writing,” Smith said.

As the deadline nears for the annual William Faulkner Writing completion, there will be more opportunities to participate in related activities.

The competition honors Nobel Prize-winning author William Faulkner who was born on Sept. 25, 1897, on Jefferson Street in New Albany. Some of his other honors include the 1955 and 1963 Pulitzer Prizes for Fiction and the 1951 and 1955 National Book Awards.

Union Countians decided to begin honoring the author each year beginning on the centennial of his birth.

The writing competition was added and thanks to the donation of former Union County resident Eric Saul, now living in Tennessee, the contest includes the categories of Novel, One-Act Play, Poetry, Adult Short Story and Student Short Story.

The deadline for novel entries is only three days away: July 15. The winner receives $2,000 and second place gets an honorable mention certificate.

The one-act play, poetry and adult short story deadlines are all July 31.

The one-act play winner receives $600 with $300 and $200 for second and third place winners, respectively. The winning play is often presented by New Albany Community Theatre the following year during the celebration.

The poetry and adult short story winners also receive $600, $300 and $200 for first, second and third places.

The deadline for student short story entries is later, Aug. 31, and this category is only open to Mississippi high school students.

First prize is $250, second is $150 and third is $100.

For more detailed entry information, go to https://williamfaulknerliterarycompetition.com/ or call the Union County Heritage Museum at 662-538-0014.