COLUMBUS, Miss. -- Dr. Thomas Richardson will step down as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Mississippi University for Women effective June 30, 2018, to continue a long-term research project while on sabbatical next spring. While focusing on this research effort, he will remain a member of the faculty as professor of English and continue to hold the Eudora Welty Chair in the Humanities.
Richardson, who has served as provost and vice president for academic affairs since 2016, joined The W 30 years ago as professor of English and head of the Division of Humanities. He has served in a variety of capacities, including interim provost and vice president for academic affairs, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College of Art and Sciences.
MUW President Jim Borsig said, “Dr. Richardson is a valued colleague and good friend, and he leaves a strong academic and administrative legacy as he steps down as provost. He is an internationally known scholar who brings great distinction to the university as the Eudora Welty Chair in the Humanities. I am excited for him and I look forward to the publication of these volumes.”
Richardson’s research on John Gibson Lockhart will culminate with the publication of the first scholarly edition of the Scottish writer’s work by Edinburgh University Press. He will serve as series editor.
The first volumes in the Edinburgh Edition titled, “The Edinburgh Critical Edition of the Works of John Gibson Lockhart,” are expected to be published in 2019.
The timing is perfect, explained Richardson, who applied for his sabbatical in December. “I started working on Lockhart about 40 years ago. It’s been a life’s work. Four years ago I stepped down as dean, intending to continue my research, but I accepted the position of provost instead. This is such a large project that I can’t really manage it and my administrative responsibilities, so I am stepping down as provost at the end of June,” he said.
As series editor for the collection of works, Richardson will assemble an advisory board to provide advice for the project and keep it moving in a timely manner. He will also engage individual volume editors for the titles he will not edit himself. The project is expected to run to at least a dozen volumes. Each volume in the edition will feature authoritative texts with full textual apparatus and explanatory annotations.
The edition will enable readers for the first time to understand Lockhart’s significance for the literature of the Romantic and early Victorian periods, explained Richardson. While Lockhart was best known as the biographer of his father-in-law, Sir Walter Scott, or the author of the infamous essays on the “Cockney School of Poetry” in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, his literary output is extensive and significant and includes literary criticism, novels, poetry, political and cultural essays, biographies and translations. A writer for Blackwood’s and the Quarterly Review, Lockhart was also a major influence on shaping the 19th-century periodical press.
Richardson said Lockhart was intent on maintaining his privacy, noting most of his work was published anonymously and has been understudied and undervalued by critics and historians of literature.
“He was so much more than two to three articles. Being able to uncover what he actually did is important and not widely known. This edition will give him his proper place in history,” said Richardson. “Edinburgh University Press is excited about this project, as well as the other scholars I have talked with about the project.”
While on sabbatical Richardson will also give a lecture to the Carlyle Society in February and complete book chapters for the Association for Scottish Literary Studies Companion to Nineteenth-Century Scottish Literature and for the Oxford Handbook of Romantic Prose.
Richardson will continue to teach a popular fall seminar that features the works of authors represented at the university’s annual Eudora Welty Writers’ Symposium. “It’s great fun to do. I don’t want to give that up,” he said.
“Being in administration at The W has been rewarding,” he added. “The staff, faculty, students, and administration here are remarkable and are a pleasure to work with.”
Edinburgh University Press is considered to be one of the leading university presses in the world. The press publishes books and journals across a range of subject areas in the humanities and social sciences, and its publications are available in the United States through its partnership with Oxford University Press.
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April 16, 2018
Contact: Anika Mitchell Perkins