Cape Girardeau is a university town 120 miles south of St. Louis and 170 miles north of Memphis. Oxford, Faulkner's home-town, is about a 4.5 hours drive from the town. The Mississippi River flows slowly through past the town. It is well known that the pilot Mark Twain took a glance of the town on the hillside and called it "Athens of Missouri." (Life on the Mississippi, Chapter XXV)
Cape Girardeau was named after French Lieutenant Jean Baptist Girardot who set up in the 1730s a temporary trading post at a rock promontory jutting from the west bank of the River. The town is situated in the southern part of Missouri which is literally a border state. We can find on a bridge across the River a border-state sign between Missouri and Illinois. 30 miles' drive to south will take us to Cairo where the Ohio River and the Mississippi River confluence. There are lots of historical sights like "The Trail of Tears" and "The Dred Scott Case." The Trail of Tears State Park shows us the details of the enforced movement of the Cherokee tribes from their eastern homes to Oklahoma in the early 1800s. And the Dred Scott Case in the St. Louis courthouse tells us the history of "Missouri Compromise" and "Kansas-Nebraska Act." It is a sad fact that people were divided among themselves to fight both for the North and the South during the Civil War. The two war memorials for the South and the North standing abreast at the old courthouse square of Cape Girardeau tell themselves the complex historical situations and feelings of the town.
The Center for Faulkner Studies
Southeast Missouri State University was founded in 1873 first as Normal School and then it developed to the present university. The Center for Faulkner Studies celebrated its opening in 1989 in the Kent Library after the University acquired the collections of Louis Daniel Brodsky in St. Louis. Brodsky got fascinated with the works of Faulkner while he was a student at Yale University and soon he began to collect a vast amount of Faulkner materials. The collections were printed almost wholly in A Comprehensive Guide to the Brodsky Collection (5 Volumes), which Dr. Robert Hamblin and Brodsky "pieced together." The fascinating process of "piecing together of the variegated, at times unaccommodating segments" will be traced in the preface to Volume I.
These world famous collections were acquired by the great enthusiasm of Dr. Robert Hamblin, the Director of the Faulkner Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. He and Brodsky collaborated on the arrangement of the Brodsky collections, which are now shelved in the rare book room on the first floor of the Library. They are proud of the greatest number of Faulkner signed first printings in the world and a huge variety of published books domestic and abroad. The Center for Faulkner Studies catalogue indicates the Collection with more than 2,000 pages of manuscript materials, more than 3,000 letters by, to or about Faulkner, more than 2,000 photographs relating to Faulkner's life and career, an impressive collection of visual artwork by and related to Faulkner, and more than a thousand pages of related to Faulkner's work in Hollywood.
Available also are Joseph Blotner's research and interview notes, correspondence, manuscripts, maps, and many other materials related to the edition of Faulkner: A Biography in 1974. They were compiled and arranged by Joseph Blotner himself during his work and we can see the classified indexes on the Internet. (Web site: http://www2.semo.edu/cfs)
BioKyowa Japanese Visiting Scholar
It is really fortunate for Japanese Faulkner scholars to have a chance to visit the Center and do research there thanks to the fund for "Scholarship for BioKyowa Japanese Visiting Japanese Scholar." The Program started 4 years ago through the sponsorship of BioKyowa, Inc., a subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kogyo of Tokyo. It is, the Center says, "designed to honor the special relationship that Faulkner developed with citizens of Japan during an official visit to the country on behalf of the U.S. Department of State in 1955." The president sometimes visits the University and he is very active in promoting better friendship with the community.
The expenses offered for travel, lodging, and food are up to a maximum of $2,000. The research period is not fixed, but a couple of weeks stay would be recommended. In the past two years Ms. FUJIHIRA Ikuko and Ms. TOYAMA Kiyoko were the recipients of the scholarship and the recipient of 2002 is Mr. TANAKA Hisao. The recipient is expected to be in a couple of classes to talk or discuss with students over the cross-cultural issues, and if possible, to make a presentation at a public forum. I took advantage of a chance to talk about William Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha and OHE Kenzaburo's Woods Saga.
My stay was not long enough to study all or know everything about the city, but the research materials were really valuable and I had a wonderful time with faculty and library stuff there. I also had a rare opportunity to learn something about a Japanese company which is willing to promote further friendship with the community as well as the University. The Center for Faulkner Studies also wants to have closer relationship with our society, which undoubtedly will extend our activities. The details are available at the Web site, or we can e-mail the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org. for more information.