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Event Details

Walker Percy and The Speculative South


From iconic Walker Percy works such as "Love in The Ruins" and "The Thanatos Syndrome," to contemporary Southern writers' portrayal of the speculative future, the ninth annual Walker Percy Weekend will consider where Southern fiction has been and where it is going. 


©Christopher R. Harris, All Rights Reserved


Writers, readers, and thinkers participating in the 2024 Walker Percy Weekend will explore the theme "The Speculative South." In the popular imagination, Southern fiction has readily been associated with the past. But what about depictions of the future? In his novels Love in the Ruins and The Thanatos Syndrome, Walker Percy presented readers with a speculative future—a dystopian Louisiana in which American society has become increasingly fragmented socially, racially, religiously, and ethically—as a means of investigating what he perceived of as society's disintegration. In the decades since, contemporary novelists have continued to offer speculative visions of a future South, challenging readers to consider how the decisions we make today shape the society our children will inhabit tomorrow.



2024 Presenters

More presenters will be confirmed in the weeks to come. Please check back for updates

Jennifer A. Frey

Dr. Jennifer A. Frey is the inaugural dean of the Honors College at the University of Tulsa, with a secondary appointment as professor of philosophy in the department of philosophy and religion. Her academic research centers around questions of agency and moral psychology, with a special focus on the nature of character of virtue and its relation to accounts of human well-being and flourishing.

Dr. Frey is a faculty fellow at the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America, a Newbigin Interfaith Fellow with The Carver Project and Interfaith America, and a member of the Hope in Higher Education project with the John Templeton Foundation. Her academic research is primarily in moral psychology and virtue. She has co-edited a volume titled Self-Transcendence and Virtue with her former colleague Candace Vogler, and she is finishing a volume titled Practical Truth with her husband and colleague, Christopher Frey (forthcoming OUP). Dr. Frey frequently writes more popular essays and book reviews in places like Breaking Ground, First Things, Harper’s, Image, The Point, and the Wall Street Journal. She hosts a philosophy, theology, and literature podcast called Sacred and Profane Love.


© William Widmer 2019

Richard Grant

Richard Grant is a magazine journalist and an author of non-fiction books. His last two books, Dispatches From Pluto and The Deepest South of All, were about Mississippi and both were New York Times bestsellers. His previous books include the adventure travel classic God’s Middle Finger and American Nomads, which was made into an acclaimed BBC documentary with Grant as the writer and host.

Currently a regular contributor at Smithsonian magazine, Grant has published journalism in EsquireThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal and many other publications. Originally from London, England, he is now a U.S. citizen. After several years in a remote farmhouse in the Mississippi Delta, an experience chronicled in the multi-award-winning Dispatches From Pluto, Grant is now living in Tucson, Arizona, with his wife and eight-year-old daughter. 


Bryan Giemza

Bryan Giemza is Associate Professor of Humanities and Literature in the Honors College at Texas Tech University. He has written multiple books and articles about Louisiana writers, history, and culture, including Images of Depression-Era Louisiana (2017) and a new edition of The Great Big Doorstep. His books include Science and Literature in Cormac McCarthy’s Expanding Worlds (Bloomsbury, June 2023), an edited essay collection on disinformation, and the forthcoming Across the Canyons (2024), and The God of Dark Matter (University of Notre Dame Press, 2025).


Brannon Costello

Brannon Costello is the James F. Cassidy Professor of English at Louisiana State University, where he teaches and writes about southern studies, comics studies, and the intersections of those fields. He is the author of Neon Visions: The Comics of Howard Chaykin (2017), which was awarded the Comics Studies Society's inaugural Charles Hatfield Prize for Best Scholarly Book, and Plantation Airs: Racial Paternalism and the Transformations of Class in Southern Fiction (2007). His other books include the edited collections Comics and the U.S. South(2012) and Conversations with Michael Chabon (2015), and he contributed a critical afterword to the 2013 reissue of Jack Butler’s lost southern classic Jujitsu for Christ (1986).


© Aaron Mayes, UNLV Photo Services

Olivia Clare Friedman

Olivia Clare Friedman is the author of three books: the novel Here Lies (Grove Atlantic), a short story collection titled Disasters in the First World (Black Cat/Grove Atlantic), and a book of poems titled The 26-Hour Day (New Issues). Her fourth book, An Arm Fixed to a Wing, a book of poems, is forthcoming from LSU Press in spring 2025. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris ReviewThe O. Henry Prize StoriesGrantaMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, among other publications. Her poems have appeared in The Atlantic, PoetryThe Southern Review, and other journals. For her fiction, she is the recipient of an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize, and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. She is an Associate Professor of English, Creative Writing, at the University of Southern Mississippi.


M.O. Walsh

M.O. Walsh is the author of the novels The Big Door Prize and My Sunshine Away, which was a New York Times bestseller and winner of the Pat Conroy Award for Southern Fiction.  His first book, a story collection titled The Prospect of Magicwon the Tartt's First Fiction Prize. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Paris ReviewSouthern Review, Garden and GunNew York Times and others. His latest novel, The Big Door Prize, has been adapted for television by Emmy winning Writer/Producer David West Read (Schitt's Creek) and is now streaming on Apple TV+. He lives in New Orleans with his wife and family, where he directs the Creative Writing Workshop MFA program at the University of New Orleans. 



Schedule Highlights

• 2pm–5pm Friday: Stop by The Conundrum Bookshop to register for the weekend and enjoy a glass of bubbly with friends both old and new.

• 8:30 am–5 pm Saturday: A series of Lectures and Panel Discussions on themes explored in the books of Walker Percy.

Noon Saturday: The return of Book Club Lunches: Spirited discussions of various Percy works led by festival presenters at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. *Gourmet box lunch available for an additional fee.

5 pm–7:30 pm Saturday: The traditional, Saturday-afternoon Progressive Front-Porch Tour and Bourbon Tasting with hors d'oeuvres, inspired by Percy's essay on drinking Bourbon, Neat. Stroll with bourbon-based-beverages in hand between several private porches in St. Francisville's historic district. Must be 21 or over to attend, obviously.

7:30 pm–10 pm Saturday: A Saturday evening Taste of Louisiana Southern supper, presented with a selection of local craft beers, served under the stars on Prosperity Street in the heart of the Historic District.


Registration & TicketsRegistration begins at 2 pm Friday at the Conundrum Bookstore, located at 11917 Ferdinand Street. Come to the bookstore to register, receive tickets and wristbands, and gather information on area dining, accommodation, and attractions.Access All Events

Admission to all events. Early Bird: $250 through March 31. $275 from April 1

Bourbon Tasting & Taste of Louisiana Supper

Progressive Front Porch Bourbon Stroll. $85 after April 1. No panels included

Taste of Louisiana Supper. $75 after April 1. No panels included

Saturday Lectures & Panels only: $125* after May 1 (if space remains)

*Space at lectures is limited. Arrive early to secure a seat.


Our Generous Sponsors


Sponsorship packages are available at the following levels and benefits

$1500 "The Moviegoer" package. 2 all-inclusive tickets to WPW events including lectures and social events, plus 2 additional tickets to the Saturday night Bourbon Stroll and “Taste of Louisiana Dinner’ to share with friends • Recognition on all printed material, website and social media.

$3000 The "Message in a Bottle" package. 4 all-inclusive tickets to WPW events including lectures and social events, plus 4 additional tickets to the Saturday night Bourbon Stroll and “Taste of Louisiana Dinner’ to share with friends • Recognition on all printed material, website and social media • Your logo on digital billboards in Baton Rouge two weeks prior to weekend.

$5000 The "Lost in the Cosmos" package. 6 all-inclusive tickets to WPW events including lectures and social events, plus 4 additional tickets to the Saturday night Bourbon Stroll and “Taste of Louisiana Dinner’ to share with friends • Recognition on all printed material, website and social media • Your logo on digital billboards in Baton Rouge two weeks prior to weekend.

$10,000 "The Last Gentleman" package. 10 all-inclusive tickets to WPW events including lectures and social events, plus 6 additional tickets to the Saturday night Bourbon Stroll and “Taste of Louisiana Dinner’ to share with friends • Recognition on all printed material, website and social media. Your logo on digital billboards in Baton Rouge two weeks prior to weekend.

Email [email protected] to learn more


FAQs & More Info

• For local accommodation options and to make reservations, look to www.visitstfrancisvillela.com/stay

• The closest airport, Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR), is approximately 30 minutes drive from St. Francisville. New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is about 90 minutes drive.

Getting around: For getting to and from the airport, renting a car is your best bet. Car rental is available from BTR or MSY airports. In St. Francisville, most festival activities take place within the (walkable) historic district. The town has a 15-passenger trolley providing free shuttle transport between stops around town. The trolley runs 10 am–10 pm. Fridays and Saturdays, and noon–5 pm Sundays. To schedule pickup, call or text (225) 721-7060. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft are not reliably available in St. Francisville, although a few drivers do operate during festival weekends.

Cancellations & Refunds: Funds raised from sponsorship and ticket sales for the Walker Percy Weekend benefit the Julius Freyhan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to restoring the historic Freyhan School building to serve as a community and cultural center for West Feliciana Parish. As such, all ticket purchases are considered donations to the foundation. No refunds are available.

Kids. We love 'em! We have 'em! But since the Walker Percy Weekend program consists of seated lectures and social events amply supplied with adult beverages, it really isn't designed with young children in mind. If you do need to bring your kids, please know that we cannot make special accommodations for them, or provide exceptions from the ticketing fees. We do hope you understand.

• For more information on individual events please visit www.walkerpercyweekend.org or email [email protected]. To see the full schedule visit : https://www.walkerpercyweekend.org/full-schedule



Venue Information

St. Francisville Historic District
11757 Ferdinand Street
St. Francisville, LA 70775

Organizer Information

Julius Freyhan Foundation


P.O. Box 338
St. Francisville, LA 70775
+1 (225) 635-6330

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