2018 Panelists :
Jessica Hooten Wilson is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing and the Associate Director of the Honors Scholars Program at John Brown University. She is the author of Giving the Devil His Due: Demonic Authority in the Fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Fyodor Dostoevsky; Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence; and Reading Walker Percy’s Novels. She also has three beautiful children, to whom she dedicates most of her time.
Patrick L. Connelly is an Associate Professor of History and the Chair of the History & Political Science Department at Mississippi College. Prior to arriving in Mississippi during the summer of 2016, Patrick served as Director of the Honors Program at Montreat College (NC), where he was awarded the David L. Parks Distinguished Professor Award in 2015. He received his Ph.D in History from Emory University in 2011 and specializes in modern American cultural, intellectual, and religious history. He is currently researching and writing on the historical vision of Walker Percy. He and his wife Julia have three boys and live in Clinton, Mississippi.
H. Collin Messer is Chair and Professor of English at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, where he teaches American literature. A South Carolina native, Messer holds degrees from Emory University and UNC-Chapel Hill, and has published articles and book chapters on William Faulkner, Thomas Wolfe, Raymond Carver, and Walker Percy. He is currently working on a book-length study of Percy, in which he traces the influence of St. Augustine on Percy’s work with particular interest in the Christian existentialism of both writers. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children.
Lawrence Rhu is the Wm. Jos. Todd Professor of the Italian Renaissance, Emeritus, at the University of South Carolina. In the spring of 2016 he retired from teaching English and Comparative Literature after his 49th year in classrooms ranging from 6th grade to graduate seminars. As a student at Harvard, Larry worked for and befriended two professors, William Alfred and Robert Coles, whose gratitude for Walker Percy’s work animated their teaching and their lives. He has collected the correspondence between Percy and Coles, as well as the few letters exchanged between Percy and Alfred. Larry has published two books, The Genesis of Tasso's Narrative Theory (1993) and Stanley Cavell's American Dream (2006), as well as numerous essays, articles, and reviews. He also edited The Winter's Tale in the Evans Shakespeare Editions (2011). He is currently writing two essays—one about the friendship of Walker Percy and Robert Coles, another about Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing and/on film—and numerous poems, three of which can be found online in Conversations 5 at Conversations: The Journal of Cavellian Studies.
Bill Wilson : William M. Wilson is Emeritus Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Along with teaching and publishing in the fields of religion and literature and philosophical theology, he served for many years as the academic dean of the undergraduate honors program (Echols Scholars) and director of the Jefferson Fellowship at the Jefferson Scholars Foundation. A native Virginian, Professor Wilson lives near Charlottesville with his wife Barbara Wilson MD. Bill and Barbara have six children and two grandchildren.