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Released February 17, 2003


LONG BEACH – The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf Park campus will play host this month, for the 18th successive year, to more than 50 literary scholars from the United States and abroad.

The annual meeting Feb. 20-22 of the John Donne Society, founded during a gathering of Donne scholars at Southern Miss's Gulf Park campus in 1986, will draw Donne devotees from across the United States and Canada, as well as such overseas locales as England and even Finland – all to talk about the 17th-century British divine and poet John Donne.

From the bawdy elegies and epigrams of his college days to the eloquent devotional poems written later in his life while he was the revered preacher and dean of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, Donne penned more than 200 poems that are still read and studied four centuries later. Among the more familiar phrases Donne authored are: "Death be not proud," "for whom the bell tolls" and "no man is an island."

Some 20 scholarly presentations – all open to the public – are scheduled from 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 20, to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22. Principal speakers and their topics include: Dr. Joshua Scodel of the University of Chicago, "‘None's Slave': Versions of Liberty in Donne's Secular Poetry"; Dr. Peter McCullough, Lincoln College of Oxford University (England), "Donne and Andrewes"; and Dr. James D. Hardy, Jr. of Louisiana State University, "‘Not upon a Lecture, but upon a Sermon': Devotional Dynamics of the Donnian Fisher of Men." This last presentation was co-authored by the late Dr. Gale H. Carrithers Jr. of LSU, and is offered in tribute to him. Carrithers was the 2002-03 Donne Society president.

The society, which now counts members from a half-dozen countries, was in part an outgrowth of the ongoing project to produce The Variorum Edition of the Poetry of John Donne, headquartered at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg under the leadership of Southern Miss Professor of English Gary A. Stringer. Stringer initiated the mammoth project – with nearly 2,500 pages currently in print, in only three of eight planned volumes – in 1981. He has served since then as the variorum's general editor and as one of three senior textual editors. The project also involves more than 30 additional editors and consultants from the U.S., Canada, England, Japan, the Netherlands, and South Africa. The next volume to be published, on Donne's widely read and studied Holy Sonnets, is scheduled for release later this year.

The award-winning Donne Variorum has received continuous grant support since 1986 from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as matching funds from the Southern Miss Foundation. For information and scholarly resources related to the project, visit its Web site at (note: do not use "www").

Conference presentations are scheduled in Hardy Hall at Southern Miss's Gulf Park Conference Center in Long Beach. The full conference program is available online through the society's Web site at Further information is also available from Stringer at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg at (601) 266-5619, or by e-mail at; or from the Southern Miss Conference Center in Long Beach at (228) 865-4508.


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM