Why come to the University of Mississippi for your M.F.A.? We do have an outstanding faculty and staff, and each incoming class is limited to a handful of students who receive intense individual attention, but there’s no better place to read and write than in William Faulkner’s hometown—Oxford, Mississippi, which was ranked one of America’s Best Small Towns by Money Magazine, a Top Small Town by CNN, and A Top Ten College Town by USA Today.
Outside of the classroom, Oxford offers many opportunities for learning and inspiration. We’re home to many literary conferences, an abundance of author readings, and the South’s best independent bookstore. Here are a few samples:
The Double Decker Arts Festival, a weekend extravaganza that spills out from the Square every June, has two live music stages, food stalls and crafts fairs, and free rides on a British double-decker bus.
Rowan Oak, the living museum of Faulkner’s home, is a restored house featuring Faulkner’s books, typewriter, bedroom, and even an outline for one of his novels that he drew on his study wall. Or take an interactive virtual tour.
Square Books is an independently owned bookstore owned by Richard Howorth, a former president of the American Booksellers Association. Having grown from its humble origins as a one-flight walk-up over twenty-five years ago, it now boasts a main store with an upstairs café, a sales annex, and a children’s shop, as well as clerks who read a lot and know what they’re selling. The authors who have visited Square Books for readings make for an honor roll of literature, from the half-unknown to the extremely famous.
The Ten-Minute Play Contest is a locally run but nationally renowned competition that brings in short drama from all over, with the winning material performed in Oxford.
Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is broadcast live from Off Square Books on Thursday afternoons and combines music and commentary with literary readings. Besides the great live bands and hip announcer, authors on the air have ranged from Donna Tartt to Robert Stone.
The Yoknapatawpha Arts Council sponsors a wide range of arts in the county, from art in the schools to grants for performances.
The Yoknapatawpha Summer Writers’ Workshop is a three-day event near the end of June, featuring fiction and poetry workshops, panels, readings, lectures, and a catfish dinner.