Students studying outside the library

Singleton wins Corrington Award for Literary Excellence

Wofford professor and author listed with Eudora Welty and other literary greats

Singleton 382
2016-03-31

Wofford College professor George W. Singleton has written himself into good company once again — this time as the 26th recipient of the prestigious John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, presented on March 12, 2016.

Past winners of the award, presented by Centenary College in Shreveport, La., include Eudora Welty and Tim O'Brien.

“I’m really honored to have won this award. If you look at my predecessors — people like Eudora Welty, James Dickey, Tim O’Brien and Ernest Gaines — these writers are heroes for me,” says Singleton, the John C. Cobb Endowed Chair in the Humanities at Wofford. “I know all of these people – I’ve met many of these writers somewhere along the line, and I’ve certainly been reading all of their work, so it’s amazing to be put in that company.”

Singleton has published seven collections of short stories, two novels and a writing advice book. In 2015, he was inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Although born in Anaheim, Calif., Singleton has lived in South Carolina for most of his life, graduating from Furman University in 1980. He received an MFA degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The majority of his stories revolve around the South.

“I think the setting has a lot of history and a lot of conflict, so it’s like there are ready-made stories as soon as I leave the door of my house,” says Singleton. “All of my published collections of short stories are linked in some way. In the most recent one, ‘Calloustown,’ every story takes place in the title fictional town. Typically, I’m just writing about everyday people doing the best that they can.”

Singleton began teaching at Wofford in 2013 and teaches courses such as Grit Lit, Short Story Workshop and Personal Essay. He says he particularly enjoys working with students in the Short Story Workshop because the class writes fiction.

“Ultimately what I want for my students is for them to read frequently and be able to talk about it in an intelligent manner. I found out that perhaps I’m a little bit of a curmudgeon, and I may be a little bit old school,” says Singleton. “Nowadays, I think there’s too much sensory overload with texting, Instagram and Facebook. People are never bored. Back in the old days, if people got bored they would read. What I wish more than anything is that students would read and like to read and talk about what they’ve learned and how this can affect human beings as a whole.”

Since publishing “Calloustown” in November 2015, Singleton has gone on a book tour throughout the Southeast and continues to work on new short stories. Although he has no publications planned, he normally tries to write and revise a few hours every day. When visiting Centenary College to accept the award, he served as the guest lecturer for five classes.

The John William Corrington Award honors a Centenary alumnus and English major, Bill Corrington, who worked as a novelist, poet, attorney and television-show writer. It is presented annually by the Centenary English Department to an established writer who has earned the critical esteem of readers. The award takes the form of a bronze medal, which was initially casted by the artist Clyde Connell, a regional self-taught abstract sculptor and artist.

by Kelsey Aylor, Wofford Class of 2017