Flannery O’Connor: Imagination, Solitude, and the Oddities of Life

Though long hailed a literary icon both for America and for the Catholic Church, Flannery O’Connor in the present moment may be more compelling than ever.  To mark what would have been her 95th birthday this spring, a new NEH-supported documentary, Flannery, was released to critical acclaim, winning the Library of Congress’s first ever Ken Burns Prize for Film.  Burns himself called O’Connor “one of our country’s greatest writers.” 

She was a bold and honest writer, convicted by the power of storytelling to change the hearts of readers. She was both a strong woman and a fragile woman, adamantly and particularly herself while carrying her compromised body with her. From her mother’s farm, surrounded by her birds, Flannery gave us a vision that is marked by humor and violence, loss and triumph.

The global pandemic and quarantine protocols have only enhanced the relevance of the one who once wrote, “Lord, I’m glad I am a hermit novelist.” Before the world turned upside down, recent scholarship had traced the final thirteen years of her life which she spent in ill health and isolation on her family farm in Georgia.  It is even more vital now to revisit the legacy of this author whose life and work have always spoken with a peculiar power, but appear to target us today. 

For O’Connor, the world she observed from her own kind of isolation was dark and strange, and yet ineradicably marked by grace. The Collegium Institute invites you to join us for a panel with four distinguished thinkers, all women, who will gather together to discuss their fascination with one of the greatest American female writers:

          • Jennifer Frey, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and co-editor of Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Psychology, and Theology.
          • Jessica Hooten Wilson, Associate Professor of Literature at John Brown University and the author of Giving the Devil His Due: Flannery O‘Connor and The Brothers Karamazov.
          • Christine Flanagan, Professor of English at University of the Sciences and the editor of The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon
          • Moderated by Jessica Sweeney


On June 3, from 7:00 to 8:30pm, join the Collegium Institute’s Ars Vivendi Arts Initiative for a dynamic evening conversation via Zoom exploring Flannery O’Connor on the imagination, solitude, and the glorious oddities of life.


This event is co-sponsored by Dappled Things, The Lumen Christi Institute, The Genealogies of Modernity Project, Abigail Adams Institute, The Beatrice Institute, the Penn Catholic Newman Community, Morningside Institute, and Portsmouth Institute.



Time and Date: Wednesday, June 3rd, 7:00-8:30pm EST

RSVP & Zoom Information: To RSVP and for more details