Student Curated Exhibits Featured in Special Collections

News item published on: 2021-04-15 13:07:00

University Libraries’ Special Collections is currently displaying exhibits curated by three Southern Miss students. This year’s exhibits feature the work of two English graduate students and a graduate student in library and information science.

Story and Art: Representation in the Work of Ezra Jack Keats, curated by English doctoral student Rachael Fowler, explores the intersection of text, image, and activism. This exhibit features an original watercolor and collage illustration from the children’s book A Letter to Amy, a newspaper article documenting minority students’ reactions to an African American protagonist in the 1960s, and several of Keats’ actual paint bottles, brushes, and other tools. Ultimately, the exhibit seeks to hi-light the positive change that can occur when writers and artists give voice to underrepresented populations and take risks with their artistic craft.

"That lavender world of anarchy”: The Literary and Queer Cultural Production of Carl Corley, curated by graduate student in English literature Jack Hoda (he/they), explores the unique life and authorial voice of Carl Corley, a queer pulp fiction author from Mississippi. Queer pulp fiction is born of the 1960s and 70s boom in erotic paperback distribution within the United States. These narratives largely center urban characters and settings; however, Corley stands out as a voice of the Deep South, presenting narrators born of Mississippi and embedded in the rural South. This exhibit features 22 of Corley’s novels and one short story that embody both Corley’s illustrative style and the wide range of queer themes he explores within the pastoral Southern context.

Making History: The Women of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), curated by Master of Library and Information Science student and public library director Cindy Matthews, profiles three women leaders of the MFDP: Annie Devine, Victoria Gray Adams, and Fannie Lou Hamer. These women rose to greatness from humble beginnings and were integral in advancing the cause of civil rights and African American voter registration, in Mississippi, and around the United States. This exhibit includes photographs, letters, political memorabilia, a song sheet, and other documents detailing how Devine, Adams, and Hamer defied violent opposition to their efforts for equality and became legendary crusaders who changed our country forever.

Special Collections student curator program provides students the opportunity to curate one-case exhibits featuring materials from the collections. Students learn how to select items for display, install the materials, write label and exhibit text, and publicize the exhibit.

The exhibits will be on display on the third floor of McCain Library and Archives in room 305 through March 2022. If you have questions about the program or the exhibits on display, contact Jennifer Brannock at or 601.266.4347 or .

In lieu of an exhibit opening, the curators participated in a gallery talk about their exhibits.