(ANQ: A Quarterly Journal of Short Articles, Notes and Reviews, 2022-02-08) Grogan, Christine
After Katherine Anne Porter declined the invitation, Kay Boyle taught a six-week summer course at the University of Delaware in 1957. It was her first academic job, awarded in part because of her success as a lecturer at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. The summer course at UD was designed to teach the history of the short story to teachers of English. Boyle wrote that she “desperately” needed the money ($2,000) but that she wasn’t too keen on the New Critical approach to analyzing literature that was in vogue (Spanier, Life in Letters 532). This formalist theory focused strictly on the text, neglecting the rich context that produced the work. What Boyle referred to as “this ghastly course at the University of Delaware” proved troublesome (Spanier, Life in Letters 530) – and it was not just because literary criticism tortured poor short stories, as Boyle worded it in a letter to Porter (Alvarez par. 7). Despite, or perhaps because of, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, racism was rampant in Delaware. This paper explores the context of her 1965 “One Sunny Morning,” Boyle’s story written about her time in Delaware, which markedly departs from her earlier ones about race. It argues that Boyle’s short time in the First State was instrumental in defining her views of black-white race relations and involvement in the fight for civil rights, serving as the basis for her only short story that offers an antidote to racism.