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Sophia K. Leonard, a doctoral student at Emory University in Atlanta, has been named the 2017 Eudora Welty Fellow. Leonard will use archival holdings at MDAH related to Welty’s short fiction published in the New Yorker to better understand that magazine’s construction of the South at midcentury.

“My research project tracing place and region in the New Yorker hinges on the short fiction of Eudora Welty, perhaps the most established writer from the South to contribute to the magazine,” said Leonard. “I plan to search for the ways the particular context of the New Yorker shaped the contours of place in Welty’s fiction and, in turn, the ways Welty’s fiction may have participated in a new composition of place and region on the pages of the magazine.”

Established by MDAH and the Eudora Welty Foundation, the fellowship seeks to encourage and support research use of the Eudora Welty Collection by graduate students.

“We're grateful to the Foundation for funding this award for a seventh consecutive year and delighted that another highly qualified fellow will make extensive use of the Welty Collection again this summer,” said David Pilcher, director of the MDAH Archives and Record Services Division.

Leonard graduated summa cum laude with a BA and MA in English from Tulane University and is at work on her PhD in English at Emory University. Leonard will use the $2,000 fellowship to cover travel, housing, and other expenses incurred while doing primary research at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building.

“To fully appreciate Welty’s shifting conception of place, I will compare manuscripts of her short fiction written during the same period but not published in the New Yorker,” Leonard said. While at the state archives, Leonard will read Welty’s unpublished correspondence with various editors from the time period, including New Yorker editor William Shawn, and with her longtime agent Diarmuid Russell “to better understand how place and space transformed in the particular stories of Welty’s that deal with the moment of exchange between the South and New York, and the South and the world.”

The Eudora Welty Collection is the world’s finest collection of materials related to Welty and one of the most varied literary collections in the United States. The collection includes manuscripts, letters, photographs, drawings, essays, and film and video footage that spans Welty’s entire life.

Beginning in 1957, and over the course of more than forty years, Welty donated materials to the department, primarily literary manuscripts and photographs. At her death the remainder of her papers were bequeathed to MDAH and included unpublished manuscripts and 14,000 items of correspondence with family, friends, scholars, young writers, and noted writers.

The collection may be accessed at the William F. Winter Archives and History Building, 200 North Street, Jackson. For more information on the collection or the fellowship, contact Forrest Galey at 601-576-6850 or by email at

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