Former Southern Miss English professor dies
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 23:08
Former longtime University of Southern Mississippi English professor and William Faulkner scholar Noel Polk died Wednesday. He was 69.
“A very sad day for those of us who knew Noel, and for the state as a whole,” Pamela Pridgen, director of the Library of Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County, told Hattiesburg American. “He was an ambassador for Mississippi and its authors and writers all over the world.”
Polk taught at USM from 1977 until 2004. He then went on to teach English at Mississippi State University, where he also served as editor of Mississippi Quarterly, a scholarly journal about life and culture in the South published by the College of Arts and Sciences at MSU.
“For almost thirty years, Noel Polk was a challenging, compassionate teacher to countless students at Southern Miss,” Maureen Ryan, USM English professor, said. “Widely recognized as one of the foremost experts on Southern literature—particularly the writing of William Faulkner—he published important scholarly work and lectured around the world. And in doing so he served as a charming and erudite ambassador for Mississippi and our university.”
Polk’s work focused on American fiction, and he was also a highly regarded William Faulkner scholar. He edited Faulkner’s novels for the Library of America and Random House and authored several books concerning the work of Southern writers. He also studied the works of Eudora Welty and lectured on the works of both Welty and Faulkner in the United States, Europe, Japan and the former Soviet Union.
Polk was a native of Picayune. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Mississippi College and his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Funeral arrangements have not been made.