Stonehill Professor George Piggford, C.S.C. Speaks at Flannery O’Connor’s Induction into American Poets Corner

November 11, 2014

O’Connor’s biographer Brad Gooch, Prof. Ali Arant (Wagner College), Prof. George Piggford, C.S.C. (Stonehill College), Prof. Eric Bennett (Providence College), and Cassandra Nelson (Oxford University Press).

When Flannery O’Connor (1925-1962) was inducted recently into the American Poets Corner, Professor of English Fr. George Piggford, C.S.C. had the honor of delivering a tribute to the great short story writer whose work explored religious and southern themes.

Speaking at the induction at the Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City, Fr. Piggford, an O’Connor scholar, addressed the nature of her Catholic faith. In its coverage of the event, The New Yorker wrote:

“The first speaker, a priest named George Piggford,C.S.C. who wore black robes, gave an erudite talk about O’Connor’s commitment to the sacrament of the Eucharist….and her debt to the Jesuit mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.”

“Given my long-standing scholarly interest in Flannery O’Connor, it was an honor to be invited to speak about her at her induction into the American Poets Corner. At the same time, it was a humbling experience as she joins so many literary giants, including Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin, and Sylvia Plath, who were inducted before her,” Piggford noted.

A member of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Fr. Piggford holds a doctorate in English literature and French theory from the University of Montreal. He has taught at Stonehill since 2004 and his research interests include modernism and postmodernism, gender, and questions of transcendence in literature. He was one of twenty-five NEH Summer Scholars who gathered in Milledgeville, GA, earlier this year at the Reconsidering Flannery O'Connor Institute hosted by Georgia College and State University.

Fr. Piggford's current work focuses on E.M. Forster’s spirituality, twentieth-century Catholic literature, and mysticism in O'Connor’s work.  He currently serves as Vice President for the Stonehill Faculty Senate and previously directed the College’s Moreau Honors Program.