This wiki collates a wide range of people, places, things, and concepts that are found in and around Faulkner’s fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Our work will aim at a broad audience, conceived of as serious but non-expert readers of Faulkner’s work: early graduate students, undergraduates, and ordinary “civilians” reading Faulkner’s novels and stories. It will cast a wide net in terms of topics, from the brief and esoteric (e.g., “pussel-gutted,” “raree show”) to the meat-and-potatoes entries on important characters and places (e.g., Benjy Compson, Sutpen’s Hundred) to longer, more conceptual entries that move across texts (e.g., time, miscegenation, mourning). I have started a list of entries in each category in a separate page (really a meta-page) on the wiki: please do add your own as well. If you would like to “claim” one of the entries as your own, simply put your name in [square brackets] next to it.

Here’s a list of more specific guidelines for entries of each length:


A short entry will gloss some relatively insignificant or obscure character, place, word, or phrase in Faulkner’s work. It will usually take only a couple of sentences to cover and require little research (e.g., a couple of dictionaries or encyclopedic resources; dictionaries of vernacular or regional usage or culture; internal evidence from Faulkner’s work). And even a short entry should provide a quotation or two from one of Faulkner’s text to show the term in context. Pretty straightforward in most cases: see my entry for "raree show" or Casey's for "G.A.R." or Cody's for "branch."


A medium entry will dig a bit deeper, providing roughly 500-1500 words on an important but relatively straightforward entity in Yoknapatawpha Co.: most often a character, but also places and other objects or concepts might qualify for this kind of treatment. Faulkner's People by Kirk and Klotz, available in free/open edition via Hathi Trust, is a good starting place (be sure to cite). The best entries will include several different quotations and perhaps involve a bit of secondary research to incorporate critics’ views on the topic at hand. Let's think about how each entry should be framed for it audience, how the format should look, and end with some general do's and don'ts:

  • FRAME:
    • Let’s assume that readers are peers: advanced undergrads/early grads who have some familiarity with the novels but little expertise in the secondary literature, biography, cultural context, etc. So our task is to illuminate their (our) reading of Faulkner by providing pithy analyses of persons, places, and things as they appear within the life of Yoknapatawpha Co.
    • This last point can’t be overemphasized: one can go to Wikipedia to learn the basic facts about, say, Memphis or the Ku Klux Klan or the history of the graphophone, but one can’t get an elegant analysis of what these terms mean within Faulkner’s fictional world. This basic emphasis has lots of implications for us that I’ll cover in the do’s/don’ts section below.

    • My strong preference for medium-length entries is to avoid subheadings when possible. Why? Because the use of subheadings allows one to give a series of impressions or ideas in no particular order, whereas writing a mini-essay forces one to prioritize and subordinate through transitions. Each entry should develop, setting out a mini-thesis, a claim to why the term matters, followed by it some evidence in the form of secondary research and/or quotation of the primary text.
    • If you use subheadings, use the “1.Heading” setting from the drop-down menu in the Edit window for consistency. And after the body of the entry, insert a line to separate the entry from the works cited. Finally, be sure to use MLA citation style throughout: parenthetical references in the body; full citation in works cited at the end. Here’s a useful sketch of how MLA style works.

    • Do:
      • Link like crazy: you can link to one another’s entries and should do so when possible; you can also link to external sites as appropriate.
      • Include images and other media when appropriate: Misba’s brogans and Kelly’s cotton exchange and Harrison’s Quentin’s Watch do this nicely. Be sure to caption the image or otherwise contextualize it.
      • Tag: all entries should be tagged with the primary text/s they engage (using the shorthand of AILD, TSAF etc.) and all should use the short/medium/long tag to help readers find entries of different lengths. No need to use the term as a tag (e.g. a Quentin tag for a Quentin entry) since it’s redundant; nor do you need your own name as a tag, since each user’s entries can be collated via the sorting tool.

    • Don’t:
      • Start off with extraneous factual information that one could get from Wikipedia (e.g., Memphis is the largest city in TN, with 645,678 residents): dive right into an argument that explains what the term means in Yoknapatawpha (e.g., Memphis is populated with gangsters and whores and, as such, looms large in X novel for Y and Z reasons). Sometimes basic facts are crucial, but they should be massaged into the argumen
      • Fragment your entry with lots of arbitrarily organized subheads.
      • Walk us through a text in chronological order (e.g., in Darl’s first chapter, he says X; in his second, he says Y). This approach correlates with a failure to have a coherent argument or focus; better to select out quotes and compile them in the order that proves your argument, regardless of when they occur in the text.
      • Write the term in the body of your text: when you name the entry to set up the page, the wiki automatically inserts it as a header, so it’s redundant to write it again.


N.B.: guidelines will be moved to our course site for the long entry so feel free to read to get a basic sense, but deadlines/etc will change.

For the proposal due on 11/19, I'd like you to let loose here in about 1000 words, thinking through ideas for the final project (Yoknapedia long entry or traditional research paper). Your brainstorm should be thoughtful and sensible but need not be particularly focused: in fact, you might outline two or three possible topics. You also need not have an *argument* but merely a topic, a territory (> Gk. topos, "place") that you will explore as you tease out an argument. By all means take a look the Yoknapedia list of entries or the list of research topics I’ve posted on the wiki, as appropriate: borrow or steal, or simply use them to get your juices flowing. Strive to narrow the scope enough so that you can reasonably research and write the thing by the end of the term. This narrowing of scope will work differently, depending on the topic and the kind of essay. For example, a traditional research paper on “Time in Faulkner” will prove unwieldy, whereas an analysis of the figure of “arrest” in LIA and AA! may do very nicely. The Yoknapedia entries will seem impossibly broad in some cases: think of the poor soul who chooses “love.” There, the challenge will be to cut a path through this enormous topos that develops coherently without being exhaustive. Here, the secondary literature will help, giving you prior arguments to dis/agree with as a means of limiting the scope.

You should also list five to ten sources. You need not *read* them all prior to finishing your "brainstorm," but they should be carefully selected as a provisional reading list to guide your research. Keep in mind that the Yoknapedia entries should be as well-researched as the traditional papers. In these long entries, what we’re aiming for is not exposition of basic plot/character/historical context (as a Wikipedia entry might) but coherent analyses of how a handful of key concepts or categories or themes work in the fictional county.

Here are some DOs and DON'Ts as you assemble your list of sources:


  • seek out reputable academic sources of information/argument: recent articles (generally, no more than 15 years old, though there are many exceptions) from academic journals and books from university presses are the most useful; articles from periodical publications like the NY Review of Books or HARPER'S are sometimes useful; some blogs and other online forums may be helpful, but there it's very hard sometimes to separate the wheat from the chaff.
  • use academic databases to look for materials: the MLA international database is the best source for literary research; Project Muse and JSTOR are also good and have a somewhat wider reach through the humanities and social sciences, though they're not as deep in literary topics as MLA.
  • use print sources: many students make the mistake of skipping anything that's not immediately available via download. But this misses out on printed books, which are still the research gold standard, so you end up missing out on at least 50% of the most useful, new, and influential material. Google Books is an excellent resource for finding out what books exist on a given topic, as well as the MLA d-base mentioned above.


  • do a couple of Google searches, pull a few newspaper articles or blog entries, and call it a day. This will NEVER get you where you want to go for a research paper and will just frustrate you.
  • cite encyclopedic sources in your bibliography. Wikipedia and other encyclopedias are very valuable for getting quick and dirty information on topics: I use them all the time. But that's where you start, not where you finish. They tell you matters of widely accepted fact, and it's not necessary to cite generally known facts (e.g., the Netscape browser was commercially released in 1994).

FAQs: [send me more questions as they come up and I'll post 'em]

Q: Do we cite sources in the Yoknapedia? If so, how?
A: Of course, and we will use MLA style for all citation. But keep in mind that many of the short entries and some of the medium entries will traffic in widely accepted definitions and facts that are no individual’s “intellectual property” and thus will not need citation. For example, in an entry on the Biblical character Benjamin, one need not cite the generic “facts” of his textual life (e.g., he is the twelfth son of Jacob), unless one quotes directly from a prior text.

Q: How should entries be formatted?
A: This is up for some negotiation, but I suggest that each short entry have a standard format as follows: a) the term; b) the definition, and c) a quote or two, and each medium and long entry have a) the term, b) the essay glossing it, and c) a list of works cited.

Q: I’m not very good at doing original research, especially for such a specialized topic. Help!
A: Use librarians! See the Research Guide on our site for help.

Q: Can we work together? Can we edit another person's entry?
A: This gets a little sticky, though I support both in concept. Provided you complete the minimum number of entries that are solely your own work, and thus have a body of work I can evaluate for your grade, you can go crazy with collaboration with others on additional entries. Regarding editing others' work, be respectful and consult the original author if you'd like to amend or add something. And don't fret if someone disrespectfully changes your entry without your consent, since I can backtrack through prior saved versions to recover an entry at any point in its revision history. If you'd like to edit an old entry, from a prior run of the class, feel free to make superficial corrections on your own (e.g., spelling or punctuation errors) but please contact me before making substantial revisions, since I want to respect the original author's autonomy to some extent.