Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with Jane Wilson Joyce, July 7, 1993

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:00 - Relatives

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Partial Transcript: --is an oral history interview with Jane Wilson Joyce being conducted by Linda Beattie for the Kentucky Writers Oral History Project.

Segment Synopsis: Joyce recalls various relatives, including her parents and grandparents.

Keywords: Danville (Ky.); Family; Hospitals; Images; Infants; Kingsport (Tenn.); Malta; Painters; Photo albums; Words

Subjects: Attorney; Childhood; Families.; Father; Grandfather; Grandparents; Mother; Names; Parents; Photographs; Walking

00:04:30 - Mother's family

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Partial Transcript: You say your, your mother's from Malta, right?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce talks of her mother's side of the family.

Keywords: Attempted rape; Aunts; Australia; Cambridge (United Kingdom); Francophile; Great-aunts; Hong Kong; Malta; Memoirs; Oxford French Dictionary; Philippines; Rochester (United Kingdom); Royal Navy; Scholars; Scotland; Switzerland; World War II

Subjects: Books; Church of England; Cousins; Death; Families.; Grandfather; Grandparents; Letters; Marriage; Mother; Only child; Reading; World War, 1939-1945

00:09:43 - Father / siblings

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Partial Transcript: My father was a, a very bookish sort of lawyer.

Segment Synopsis: Joyce discusses her father's career as an attorney, as well as her brother and his life.

Keywords: Dobyns-Bennett High School; Kingsport (Tenn.); Legal secretaries; Lexington (Ky.); Property disputes; Settlements; Sister-in-law

Subjects: Attorney; Brother; Civil law; Families.; Father; Golf; Health; High school; Life; Marriage; Retirement; Work

00:13:34 - Childhood

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Partial Transcript: Um, what was your childhood like?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce describes her childhood, which was spent entirely in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Keywords: Happy; Houses; Inarticulate; Interests; Kingsport (Tenn.); Land; Manners; Pool; Schools; TV; Television; Verbal; Victorians

Subjects: Books; Brother; Childhood; Families.; Golf; Grandfather; Homonyms; Horses; Memory; Mother; Parents; Personality; Reader; Reading; Stability; Summer; Theater; Woods

00:20:19 - Favorite subjects and teachers / first writing

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Partial Transcript: What about, uh, elementary school, uh, did you have a favorite subject or--

Segment Synopsis: Joyce lists her favorite teachers and favorite subjects in elementary school. Additionally, Joyce reveals when she first began to write.

Keywords: Classrooms; Dorothy Parker; Elementary schools; Ferocious; Memorizing poems; Middle schools; Novels; Outside; Paddles; Poems; Prep; Reading periods; Schools; Top of the class; Trouble

Subjects: Circle; Education; Listening; Teachers; Third grade (Education); Writing

00:25:55 - Junior high school and high school

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Partial Transcript: Um, what about junior high and high school, what were those like for you?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce characterizes what junior high school and high school were like for her personally. Joyce's pieces of writing during this time are also described.

Keywords: American Girl Magazine; Esquire magazine; Junior high schools; Latin; Motels; Offices; Outspoken; Published; Rejection letters; Typing

Subjects: Education; English; Father; Greyhound buses; High school; Observation; Parody; Short story; Social pressure; Writing

00:29:50 - College

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Partial Transcript: Did you go directly from high school to college?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce gives an account of her time at Bryn Mawr College, including the courses she took, social aspects of the college, and the level of preparation for university that her high school provided.

Keywords: Bedrooms; Book reports; Bryn Mawr College; Classics departments; Colleges; Difficult; Faculty; Friends; Guidance counselors; Kingsport (Tenn.); Latin; Liberal arts; Literary magazines; Majors; New York (N.Y.); New York Times; Philadelphia (Pa.); Schools; Stress; Troubled

Subjects: Archaeology; Art--History; Brother; Christmas; Competition; Education; Education, Higher; Friend; High school; Higher education; Life; Modern poetry; Museums; Philosophy; Poetry; Reading; Students; Writing

00:37:51 - Life after college

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Partial Transcript: And, what happened after you l--graduated from Bryn Mawr?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce provides a summary of her life following her graduation from Bryn Mawr College, which was spent primarily with her first husband.

Keywords: Austin (Tex.); Bryn Mawr College; Classics plays; Family; Graduate students; Husbands; Princeton University; Psychiatric care; University of Cambridge

Subjects: Classicists; Education; Euripides; Father; Life; Lithium; Manic-depressive illness; Marriage; Money; Play; Professor; Queen Elizabeth 2 (Ship)

00:42:31 - Year in Cambridge / University of Texas at Austin

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Partial Transcript: What did you do that year in Cambridge?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce recalls the year she spent in Cambridge with her ex-husband, as well as their life together as graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin.

Keywords: Barton Springs Pool; Bicycles; Classics departments; Community; Friends; Husbands; Law schools; Movies; Social life; Tutors; University of Cambridge; University of Texas at Austin

Subjects: Christmas; Classics; Cooking; Drama; Education; Education, Higher; Graduate students; Greek studies; Health; Higher education; Home; Intellectuals; Lectures; Life; Marriage; Parties; Swimming; Teaching

00:48:23 - Professor and his work

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Partial Transcript: I was taken under the wing of a professor there who had devised what I still consider to be the most brilliant method to teach Latin I've ever--

Segment Synopsis: Joyce talks of a professor who she met whilst studying at the University of Texas at Austin. Joyce describes a teaching method of this Latin professor, which they are currently attempting to publish as a new Latin textbook for university students.

Keywords: "The Fourth Skill"; Ancient Latin; Computers; Graduate schools; Grants; Ideas; Julius Caesar; Latin; Manuscripts; Original texts; Politics; Publishers; Revisions; Tedious; Textbooks; University of Texas at Austin

Subjects: Catullus, Gaius Valerius; Education; Education, Higher; Grammar; Higher education; Professor; Publishers and publishing.; Reading; Students; Teaching; Textbooks; Writing

00:52:25 - Divorce

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Partial Transcript: Um, you said you were married for six years, did you get divorced while you lived in Texas then?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce's life immediately following her divorce is examined.

Keywords: Family; Graduate schools; Husbands; Managers; Master's degrees; Part-time jobs; PhD; Restaurants; Seizures; Teaching assistants; Texas

Subjects: Bakery; Death; Divorce; Drugs; Father; Life; Lithium; Manic-depressive illness; Work

00:56:10 - Leaving Texas / Centre College

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what prompted you to leave Texas when you did?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce explains why she left Texas and took a position to teach at Centre College. Then, Joyce describes what it is like to work for Centre College, including the number of courses, as well as the types of courses that she teaches.

Keywords: American Philological Association; Austin (Tex.); Centre College; Classics departments; Danville (Ky.); Greek; Indiana University; Integrated studies; Latin; Majors; Minors; Tests; Translations

Subjects: Courses and lectures; Creative writing; Education; Education, Higher; Friend; Graduate students; Higher education; Humanities; Interviews; Life; Literature; Mythology; Professor; Teachers; Teaching; Work

01:00:57 - Creative writing / publishing work / liberal arts

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Partial Transcript: Have you ever taught creative writing here?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce relays her experience of teaching creative writing at Centre College collaboratively with another professor. Following this, Joyce briefly talks of publishing her work while teaching at the college. Lastly, Joyce considers the benefits and drawbacks of teaching at a liberal arts college, as well as living in a small town.

Keywords: Classics meetings; Classrooms; Collaboration; Conferences; Danville (Ky.); Exercises; Liberal arts; Movies; Public transportation; Publishing; Scholars; Security; Small towns; Winter term

Subjects: Creative writing; Education; Education, Higher; Higher education; Independence; Life; Poetry; Professor; Publishers and publishing.; Safety; Teachers; Teaching; Work; Writing

01:04:29 - Teaching creative writing

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Partial Transcript: When you say you've taught creative writing, I'm wondering how you think creative writing should be taught?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce shares her opinions on how creative writing should be taught, based upon her own experience as a student in a creative writing course, as well as her perspective as a teacher of the subject.

Keywords: "Try new things"; Bryn Mawr College; Centre College; Danville (Ky.); Ernest Hemingway; Husbands; Manuscripts; New Hampshire; Rejection letters; Revisions; Texas

Subjects: Creative writing; Divorce; Education, Higher; Encouragement; Experience; Higher education; Professor; Publishers and publishing.; Teachers; Teaching; Textbooks; Undergraduate

01:09:03 - Teaching methods / language

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Partial Transcript: Do you teach mostly by the workshop method, people writing things and critiquing each other in class or?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce details some of the teaching methods that she uses within her creative writing class. The importance of learning grammar and a sense for the English language from an early age are also emphasized (in order to be successful in creative writing, and also writing in general).

Keywords: Bilingual; Centre College; Danville (Ky.); Freshman courses; Mistakes; Modern Linguistic Theory; Rewriting; Workshop methods

Subjects: Anglicists; Contexts; Education; Education, Higher; English; Essays; Father; Grammar; Higher education; Language; Prepositions; Professor; Publishers and publishing.; Reading; Students; Teacher; Teachers; Teaching; Writing; Written language

01:15:58 - Writing career

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Partial Transcript: Um, what about, uh, your own writing career? We've talked about your first article getting published in American Girl.

Segment Synopsis: Joyce's writing career throughout the years is examined.

Keywords: "Blue Mountains"; Appalachian Heritage Magazine; Bread Loaf School of English; Dissatisfied; Efforts; Encouraging; Heinemann Writers Workshop; Jonathan Greene; Literary magazines; Manuscripts; Middlebury College; Poems; Published; Publishers; Quilt poems; University of Kentucky

Subjects: Editions; Life; Poem; Student; Work; Writing

01:23:09 - "Quilt Poems"

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Partial Transcript: Uh, your, uh, quilt pieces, h--what inspired that in the first place?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce explains the inspiration behind her collection of poems entitled "Quilt Poems."

Keywords: Centre College; Community; Family stories; Farms; Jonathan Greene; Meaning; Quilt exhibits; Slave code; Smithsonian Museum; Washington (D.C.)

Subjects: Envy; Families.; Father; Grandmother; History; Life; Mother; Poems; Quilts; Sewing

01:27:00 - "Beyond the Blue Mountains"

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Partial Transcript: Um, and can you talk a little bit about "Beyond the Blue Mountains" in terms of your--where you got the idea for doing that...

Segment Synopsis: Joyce considers what influenced her to write a collection of poems called "Beyond the Blue Mountains."

Keywords: "Beyond the Blue Mountains"; American history; Contributions; Lillian Schlissel; Pioneer women books; “Women’s Diaries of the Westward Journey"

Subjects: Books; Influences; Lucan, 39-65; Mountains; Poems; Woods; Writing

01:29:58 - Translation / Latin and English

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Partial Transcript: And, and the other book you referred to that you had just finished, this is a translation--

Segment Synopsis: Joyce describes the process of translating original texts of Latin into modern-day English. Joyce then briefly talks of the usefulness of knowing Latin in relation to writing contemporary English poetry. The interviewee then returns to the subject of translating Latin, including the difficulties of finding a publisher.

Keywords: "Mental discipline"; "Worldliness"; Balance; Cornell University Press; Editors; Julius Caesar; Latin; Literary devices; Manuscripts; Metaphorical language; Nero; Pompeii; Roman Empire; Style; Translating; Translations; Vacations

Subjects: Apostrophe; Apprentice; Competition; English; Epic poetry; Etymology; Language; Learning; Lines; Professor; Rhythm; Series; Work; Writing

01:39:14 - Purpose of poetry / other writing

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Partial Transcript: What would you say you're attempting to do in, in your poetry, and I mean really your, your contemporary poetry here...

Segment Synopsis: Joyce explains what the intention of her poetry truly is. Then, Joyce describes the different types of writing that she does in addition to poetry.

Keywords: "Beyond the Blue Mountains"; Centre College; Clear; Cornell University Press; Daily life; Danville (Ky.); Moments; Phases of life; Prose; Revising; Textbook writing; Westward migration

Subjects: Authors.; Compact; Drama; Humanism; Life; Lucan, 39-65; Memories; Playwriting; Poetry; Women; Work; Writing

01:44:18 - Health / "Our Brother's War"

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Partial Transcript: Of course, there's tremendous sense of place in your two books of poetry.

Segment Synopsis: Joyce talks of her health and its effects on both her life and writing. Next, the interviewee learns of a recently-published work by a Kentucky writer that contains similar themes to her own writing.

Keywords: Bicycles; Civil War diaries; Computer screens; Context; Driving; Eye doctors; Eyesight; Immobile; Kentucky writers; Louisville (Ky.); Nearsightedness; Place; Reading glasses; Software; Women's Civil War diaries

Subjects: Authors.; Awareness; Civil war; Diaries; High school; Magnifying glasses; Poetry; Reading; Setting; Themes; Writing

01:50:35 - Writing habits / computers

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Partial Transcript: Uh, what about your own writing habits?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce outlines her writing habits, as well as her first experience with typing a first draft of a piece of writing on the computer. Joyce's familiarity with using a typewriter is also explored.

Keywords: Breakfast; Handwriting; Indiana University; Letters; Longhand; Memoirs; Mornings; Poems; Prose; Routines; Schedules; Schools; Schoolwork; Typewriters; Typing; Wagons

Subjects: Books; Coffee; Computers; Home; Lucan, 39-65; Noise; Playwriting; Poets; Rhythm; Thinking; Walking; Work; Writing

01:57:45 - Teaching and writing / future work / writers workshop

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Partial Transcript: You said you loved teaching but does it compete--

Segment Synopsis: Joyce illustrates the conflicts and benefits of teaching at a college whilst writing full time. The interviewee then discusses upcoming writing projects. Lastly, Joyce relays her experiences at writers groups and conferences she has attended, and why she does not participate in a writers group while she lives in Danville, Kentucky.

Keywords: Actions; Answers; Appalachian Writers Group; Bread Loaf School of English; Centre College; Comments; Community; Danville (Ky.); Evasive; George Ella Lyon; Heinemann Writers Workshop; Jim Wayne Miller; Latin love poetry; Linda Pastan; Middlebury College; Oppressed; Politics; Projects; Small towns; Uncomfortable; Women's perspective; Wonderful

Subjects: Attention; Authors.; Competition; Compliments; Education; Energy; People; Poetry; Professor; Sabbatical leave; Staff; Stories; Teaching; Time; Writing

02:04:46 - Nature of creativity / favorite authors and final thoughts

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Partial Transcript: Um, I'm wondering what you think the nature of creativity itself is?

Segment Synopsis: Joyce reflects upon what the nature of creativity is. Joyce then lists her favorite authors at the moment. Lastly, the interviewee briefly talks of her cat.

Keywords: "Clear writing"; "Everyone is creative"; "Making something"; A. S. Byatt; Cats; Detective novels; English mystery writers; Jeff Daniel Marion; Jim Wayne Miller; Kentucky writers; Mary Oliver; Muriel Spark; Mystery writers; Perfection; Variety

Subjects: Authors.; Children; Creative ability; Creativity; Havana brown cat; Learning; Novels; Public schools; Writing