maincurve UC Library MyUC iLearn Webmail Home
title Media Relations Home



Mercer University Press announces the release of Between the House and the Chicken Yard: The Masks of Flannery OʼConnor from author Jolly Kay Sharp


Media Contact: Barbara Keene, Director of Marketing (478) 301-2880

October 25, 2011

Macon, Georgia— The seventh book in the Flannery OʼConnor Series from Mercer University Press, Between the House and the Chicken Yard offers new insights into OʼConnorʼs life drawn from previously unpublished materials.

Bruce Gentry, editor of the Flannery OʼConnor Review says of this new book, “Sharp entertainingly reveals Flannery OʼConnor to be more religious, more Southern, more intellectual and individualistic than OʼConnor wanted us, at least at first, to realize.”

Recognizing personal tendencies and developing literary talents enabled Mary Flannery OʼConnor to don multiple masks, concealing or revealing segments of herself as she desired. With no memoirs or lengthy autobiographies, OʼConnorʼs published works, letters, and manuscripts, along with previously unpublished letters, are examined to determine how OʼConnor defined herself, not just how scholars interpret her life and works. In fact, the plethora of criticism is in danger of obscuring the most important authority: OʼConnor herself.

Carl Jung claimed that adopted personas allow people ways to conform to society acceptably. While OʼConnorʼs personal and social masks were affected by her Southern and Catholic roots, her vivid imagination and artistry fashioned her literary masks, allowing her to explore life’s grotesqueness. Some of OʼConnorʼs literary characters shelter self-defining features of her own personality and purpose.

OʼConnorʼs masks serve as metaphorical embodiments of her veiled autobiography, illuminating key components of her sense of self and of her literary power. Sharpʼs exploration of these society-obligatory and self-imposed masks identifies OʼConnorʼs goals, struggles, and successes; her critical insight into her own literature; her reaction and responses to family, friends, and acquaintances; and, ultimately, her own success and growth.

Jolly Kay Sharp is professor of English at University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Mercer University Press, established in 1979, has published more than 1200 books. Mercer is the only Baptist related institution with an active continuous fulltime publishing program over the past quarter century. The reputation of the Press significantly enhances the academic environment of the University and carries the name of Mercer throughout the world. Visit us on the web at

Between the House and the Chicken Yard: The Masks of Flannery OʼConnor

Jolly Kay Sharp

October 2011

ISBN 9780881462630 * MUP/H835 * $35.00t, cloth

Release Provided by Mercer University Press