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Literary Conversations Visiting Writers Series
Spring 2006 Schedule
Africa Diaspora
Vito Acconci
Jonathan Ames
Julian Barnes
Taylor Branch
J. California Cooper
E.L. Doctorow
Horton Foote
Mary Gaitskill
Linda Greenhouse
Honorée Jeffers
Margo Jefferson
Eric Kandel
Tracy Kidder
Elizabeth Kolbert
Nicole Krauss
Frank McCourt
Redmond O'Hanlon
Richard Schechner
Everton Sylvester
Karenna Gore Schiff
Susan Vreeland
Franz Wright
ALL EVENTS ARE FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
(unless cosponsor charges a fee)
Seating is on a first come, first serve basis
January / February / March / April / May
Subject to change; please check back for updates.

(Note: CC=Campus Center; HU=Humanities; LE=New Library; PAC=Performing Arts Ctr)
Frank McCourt
Frank McCourt
Memoirist

Frank McCourt, Pulitzer Prize-winner, and one of the master storytellers of American literature, is the author of the new memoir, Teacher Man (2006), an account of his thirty-year teaching career with the New York City public school system. The book features hilarious anecdotes about life in the classroom, McCourt's creative teaching philosophy, and tales of his many battles with blockheaded school bureaucrats. Teacher Man is the third in a trilogy that includes the runaway bestsellers, Angela's Ashes (1996), a memoir of McCourt's impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, and 'Tis (1999), an account of his early years as an immigrant in America. Renowned for his irreverent charm and self-effacing wit, McCourt first became a literary star at the age of 66, after establishing himself as a dedicated, innovative, and beloved English teacher at McKee Vocational High School in Staten Island, Seward Park High School on the Lower East Side, and Manhattan's famous, fiercely competitive Stuyvesant High School.

January 24
(Tuesday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Ballroom CC

8:00 pm Reading
Page Hall
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Susan Vreeland
Novelist

Susan Vreeland bestselling novelist, takes her inspiration from the worlds of Renaissance and modern art. Her newest book is Life Studies (2005), a Los Angeles Times bestseller, which features stories based on incidents in the lives of notable Impressionist and post-Impressionist painters. A teacher of high school English for thirty years, Vreeland became a writer relatively late in life. A passion for the portraits of Jan Vermeer, combined with long days free from teaching during an extended illness, resulted in the New York Times bestseller, Girl in Hyacinth Blue (1999), the story of a fictional painting by the Dutch master. Publishers Weekly listed Girl in Hyacinth Blue as one of the 25 best novels of 1999. Vreeland's other bestselling books include The Forest Lover (2004), based on the life of pioneering modernist painter Emily Carr, and The Passion of Artemisia (2002), based on the life of female Italian Renaissance painter Artemisia Gentileschi. Cosponsored by the University Art Museum

January 31
(Tuesday)

8:00 pm Reading
UArt Museum FA
Jullian Barnes
Julian Barnes
British Novelist

Julian Barnes is one of the world's great postmodern novelists, a playfully inventive writer who combines vivid psychological realism with bold experimentation. His most recent novel, Arthur & George (2005), was short-listed for the 2005 Man Booker Prize, the third of Barnes's books to be so honored. The novel is the story of the intersection of two lives: an internationally famous author, and an obscure country lawyer wrongly imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit. Barnes's other books include The Lemon Table (2004), In the Land of Pain (2003); Love, etc. (2001); England, England (1999); Talking it Over (1991), winner of the Prix Femina; and Flaubert's Parrot (1984), winner of the Prix Medicis award.

February 1
(Wednesday)

4:15 pm Seminar
CC 375

8:00 pm Reading
Recital Hall PAC
Margo Jefferson
Margo Jefferson
Journalist

Margo Jefferson, critic-at-large for the New York Times, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, is the author of the new book On Michael Jackson (2006), a witty, erudite, and highly original meditation on the embattled pop star's cultural significance. Jefferson is widely admired for her probing insights into experimental theatre, music, and art, as well as pop and African American culture. Jefferson joined the Times in 1993 as a critic on the culture desk, became the Sunday theatre critic in 1995, and was appointed critic-at-large in 1996. Prior to that, she served as associate editor at Newsweek, and as contributing editor at Vogue and 7 Days. She has served as Professor of Journalism at NYU, and as a lecturer in literature and pop culture at Columbia University.

February 2
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Recital Hall PAC
Honoree Jeffers
Honorée Jeffers
Poet

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers burst onto the American poetry scene with her first collection, The Gospel of Barbecue (2000), a vivid evocation of Southern Black folk culture and cuisine. Lucille Clifton selected the book for the Wick Poetry Prize in 1999, and said, "These poems are sweet and sassy, hot and biting, flavored in an exciting blend of precise language and sharp and surprising imagery that delights…. They are gospel, indeed, and this young poet will be heard more and more spreading the true word. Good news!" Jeffers is also the author of the recent collection, Outlandish Blues (2003), in which she imagines herself into the voices of such blues giants as Billie Holiday, James Brown, Dinah Washington, Aretha Franklin and John Coltrane, as well as such biblical women as Sarah, Hagar, and Lot's wife. In 2002, Jeffers received the Julia Peterkin Award for Poetry. Cosponsored by UAlbany's Department of Africana Studies

February 16
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Assembly Hall CC
Rerdmond O'Hanlon
Redmond O'Hanlon
Travel Writer & Naturalist

Redmond O'Hanlon, former natural history editor for the London Times Literary Supplement, is the author of several masterpieces of modern adventure-travel literature. His newest book is Trawler (2005), a first-hand account of time aboard a deep-sea commercial fishing trawler, which embarks from the northern tip of Scotland in the highest seas at the worst time of the year. O'Hanlon treats the reader to rich insights, as well as hilarious anecdotes about deep sea organisms, the lives of fishermen, northern gales, seasickness, and the psychotic effects of prolonged sleep deprivation. New York Times reviewer Bruce Barcott said, "Although Trawler is ostensibly an adventure book, it is also one of the most thrilling and inspiring books about science that I've ever read." O'Hanlon's other travel books include No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo (1996), a New York Times Notable Book of 1997, In Trouble Again: Journeys Between the Orinoco and the Amazon (1988), and Into the Heart of Borneo (1984).

February 17
(Friday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC
Richard Schechner
Richard Schechner
Playwright
Director & Scholar

Richard Schechner, influential founder of the Performance Studies Department at NYU, is a theorist whose work has transformed the study and practice of theatre production. In 1967, Schechner founded the renowned experimental troupe, The Performance Group. Schechner also serves as editor of the major academic journal, TDR: The Drama Review (1962-69, 1985- ). His original plays, adaptations and translations include Yokastas and Yokastas Redux (2003 & 2005, w/Saviana Stanescu), Faust/Gastronome (1993), and the hugely controversial Dionysus in '69 (1970, after Euripides). Cosponsored by the Dept of Theatre and funded by the Jarka & Grayce Susan Burian Endowment
Jarka Burian, Professor Emeritus of Theatre at UAlbany, died on August 25, 2005. This year's Burian Lecture is dedicated to his memory as a theatrical artist, scholar, and friend.

10th Annual
Burian Lecture


February 28

(Tuesday)

8:00 pm Reading
Page Hall
Jonathan Ames
Jonathan Ames
Fiction & Nonfiction

Jonathan Ames is a novelist, humorist, performance artist, Guggenheim Fellow, recurring guest on the Late Show with David Letterman, and former columnist for the New York Press. He is best-known for soul-baring, often embarrassing accounts of his personal life and his pursuit of peculiar adventures. His latest essay collection, I Love You More Than You Know (2006), features meditations on past failures, bodily idiosyncrasies, sadomasochism, fatherhood, fencing, and a beloved great aunt. His most recent novel is Wake Up, Sir! (2004), a comic, oddball, 21st century take-off on the Jeeves novels of P.G. Wodehouse. Much of the action in Wake Up, Sir! takes place in a thinly-disguised Yaddo, the writers' colony in Saratoga Springs. Other books by Ames include My Less Than Secret Life: A Diary, Fiction, Essays (2002); a collection of columns, What's Not to Love? (2000); and two novels, The Extra Man (1998) and I Pass Like Night (1989).

March 2
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Ballroom CC
Linda Greenhouse
Linda Greenhouse
US Supreme Court Correspondent

Linda Greenhouse, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times correspondent, has covered the proceedings of the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly three decades. She is the author of the new biography, Becoming Justice Blackmun: Harry Blackmun's Supreme Court Journey (2005), the story of a judge renowned for his probity, humanity, and keen sense of civic responsibility. Prior to joining the Times' Washington Bureau, Greenhouse covered local and state government and politics for the paper in New York, and served as chief of the newspaper's legislative bureau in Albany. She has appeared as a "Washington Week" panelist on PBS since 1980. She was recently awarded the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism from Harvard's Kennedy School, and the John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism from the Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cosponsored by Phi Beta Kappa, the Alpha Alpha Chapter of NY, and UAlbany's Office of the President, College of Arts & Sciences, Depts of History, Political Science, Journalism Program, and Rockefeller College

March 8
(Wednesday)

8:00 pm Lecture
"Court, Country, & Culture"
Page Hall
Eric Kandel, M.D.
Eric Kandel
M.D.

Nobel Prize Winner

Eric Kandel, M.D., is a Professor at Columbia Univ and a senior investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Kandel received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2000 for his work in uncovering some of the basic molecular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. This work is central to understanding normal memory as well as dementia and other illnesses that affect the mind. Kandel has written numerous books on his research for the scientific community as well as college textbooks. His newest book, In Search of Memory: The Emergence of a New Science of Mind (2006) is an introduction to the new science of mind for the general reader. It is an account of his personal quest to understand memory as well as a history of the extraordinary scientific advancements in the study of the mind that have taken place in the last fifty years. Cosponsored by the Science Library

March 10
(Friday)

4:15 pm Reading/Talk
Assembly Hall CC

Karenna Gore Schiff
Karenna Gore Schiff
Journalist/Nonfiction

Karenna Gore Schiff is the author of Lighting the Way: Nine Women Who Changed Modern America (2006), an illuminating narrative that tells the stories of nine influential women who tackled inequity and advocated change in the United States in the twentieth century. The book includes profiles of Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant who organized coal miners and campaigned against child labor; Frances Perkins, who worked to establish social security programs; Septima Clark, who helped to register black voters; and Helen Rodriguez-Trias, an activist for reproductive rights, among others. Gore Schiff, the eldest daughter of Al and Tipper Gore, graduated from Harvard University and Columbia Law School. She has worked as a journalist and lawyer, and most recently as the Director of Community Affairs for the Association to Benefit Children.

National Women's History Month

March 14
(Tuesday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Page Hall
Vito Acconci
Vito Acconci
Architect/Artist/Author

Vito Acconci is a poet-turned-artist-and-architect. He is widely regarded as one of the most provocative architectural designers presently at work. His commissions include New York's Storefront for Art and Architecture; the Courtyard in the Wind of Munich's Technisches Rathaus; and the Murinsel, an artificial island designed for the city of Graz, Austria. Earlier in his career, Acconci was one of the key figures in the invention of video and performance art. His work has been featured in one-person exhibitions at the Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Cosponsored by the UArt Museum and the Center for Humanities, Arts, and TechnoSciences (CHATS) in conjunction with "Architecture at Albany."

March 21
(Tuesday)

7:00 pm Reading/Talk
UArt Museum FA
Tracy Kidder
Tracy Kidder
Nonfiction Author

Tracy Kidder's newest book is Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World (2003), a biography of the infectious disease specialist, anthropologist, Harvard professor, medical reformer, gadfly, saint, and modern-day Robin Hood, best-known for founding a charity hospital in rural Haiti. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for The Soul of a New Machine (1981, updated 1997), a brilliant, pioneering study of the new "computer culture" that had just begun to emerge in the late 1970s. Other bestselling books include two finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Among Schoolchildren (1989) and House (1985), as well as Home Town (1999), and Old Friends (1993), winner of the New England Book Award.
In conjunction with the UAlbany Reading Project, a program to engage the entire university community in reading and reflecting on a common text. Kidder's book Mountains Beyond Mountains is the featured work for this inaugural project. Sponsored by the Office of the Provost

March 23
(Thursday)

2:00 pm Q&A
Ballroom CC


7:30 pm
Reading/Discussion
Ballroom CC


Africa
Africa and the Diaspora
Agents for Change

Africa and the Diaspora: Agents for Change, an interdisciplinary conference, presents a series of panel discussions and poster sessions showcasing the work of individuals who challenge "Afro-Pessimism" and maintain their commitment to Africa and the African Diaspora through study, research, publications, and community development. Keynote address at 10:45 am by Dr. Juliana Nfah-Abbenyi, Cameroonian writer and literary critic, author of Gender in African Women's Writing and Your Madness, Not Mine: Stories of Cameroon.
Cosponsored by UAlbany Libraries, Inst for Research on Women, Office of Student Success, Office of International Education, School of Public Health, School of Social Welfare, Univ Auxilliary Services, Departments of Women's Studies and Africana Studies

March 24
(Friday)

8:30 am - 5:30 pm
Ballroom, CC
Taylor Branch
Taylor Branch
Nonfiction Author

Taylor Branch, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, is the author of a grand three-volume work that is both a biography of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and a history of the Civil Rights Movement under his leadership. The product of nearly 25 years of intense archival research and the collection of oral history, the trilogy has been hailed as one of the greatest achievements in the field of American biography. Branch has just published the third and final volume, At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years, 1965-68 (2006), which chronicles the last three years of King's life, from the march on Montgomery to his assassination in Memphis. Branch received the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Christopher Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award for the first volume in the trilogy, Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954-1963 (1988), which he followed nearly ten years later with the second volume, Pillar of Fire: America in the King Years, 1963-1965 (1997). In 1991, Branch was awarded a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship for his contributions to American history. Cosponsored by the New York State Library and Friends of the New York State Library

March 28
(Tuesday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Clark Auditorium
NYS Museum CEC
Downtown Albany
Mary Gaitskill
Mary Gaitskill
Novelist

Mary Gaitskill's new novel Veronica (2005), was listed as one of the "10 Best Books of 2005" by the New York Times and was a finalist for this year's National Book Award. Set primarily in Paris and Manhattan amid the excess and debauchery of the 1980s art scene, the novel presents the complex friendship between Allison, a former teen runaway and fashion model, and Veronica, an eccentric older woman. The New York Times Book Review praised Veronica as "a masterly examination of the relationship between surface and self, culture and fashion, time and memory . . . [Gaitskill's] palpable talent puts her among the most eloquent and perceptive contemporary fiction writers." Other books by Gaitskill include Because They Wanted To: Stories (1997), a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award; the novel, Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991); and Bad Behavior: Stories (1988). Her short story "The Secretary," was the basis of a Sundance Award-winning 2002 film starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.

April 6
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Campus Center 375

8:00 pm Reading
Recital Hall PAC
Elizabeth Kolbert
Elizabeth Kolbert
Journalist

Elizabeth Kolbert, award-winning journalist, is the author of the forthcoming book, Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature and Climate Change (2006). The new book grew out of a widely influential three-part series of articles she wrote on global warming that was published in the New Yorker. In order to write the book, Kolbert spent time with top climate scientists in Alaska and Greenland measuring the growing impact of climate change. Kolbert is a staff writer at the New Yorker, and formerly wrote for the New York Times for fifteen years, serving as Albany Bureau Chief (1988-91), covering the national elections in 1992 and 1996, and writing the "Metro Matters" column. She is a recipient of the George Polk Award and Walter T. Brown Award for journalism. Her first book was The Prophet of Love: And Other Tales of Power and Deceit (2004), a collection of profiles of New York political figures from Boss Tweed to Hillary Clinton. Cosponsored by Albany Law School and Albany Law School Environmental Outlook Journal

April 18
(Tuesday)

8:00 pm Reading
Assembly Hall CC
E.L. Doctorow
E.L. Doctorow
Novelist

E.L. Doctorow is widely recognized as one of America's great masters of the historical novel. He is the author most recently of The March (2005), a fictional account of General Tecumseh Sherman's famous military rampage from the burned-out ruins of Atlanta to the Atlantic ocean, and north into the Carolinas, leaving a path of destruction that affected the South for generations. The March was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award. Doctorow's earlier novels include City of God (2000), The Waterworks (1994), Billy Bathgate (1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, World's Fair (1985), winner of the National Book Award, Loon Lake (1980), Ragtime (1975), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, The Book of Daniel (1971), and Welcome to Hard Times (1961). Four novels have been adapted into film. Doctorow is a past recipient of the Edith Wharton Citation of Merit for Fiction, and served as New York State Author from 1989-1991. Cosponsored by Rensselaer's 65th McKinney Writing Contest and Reading

April 19
(Wednesday)

8:00 pm Reading
Darrin Communication Ctr 308
Rensselaer (RPI) Troy
Franz Wright
Franz Wright
Poet

Franz Wright received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2004 for Walking to Martha's Vineyard, a collection about love, depression, loneliness, Christianity, and nature, as well as the poet's ambivalent relationship with his late father, American poet James Wright. His newest collection is God's Silence (2006), an affirmation and celebration of a newfound spirituality, the acceptance of which he voices in the paradoxical line, "I have heard God's silence like the sun." Wright's earlier poetry is often preoccupied with madness, addiction, emotional abuse, and personal survival. Previous collections include The Beforelife (2001), winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Ill Lit: Selected and New Poems (1998), The Night World and the Word Night (1992), and Entry in an Unknown Hand (1989). He has also published four books in translation of poetry by Rainer Marie Rilke, Erica Pedretti, and Rene Char.

April 20
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Assembly Hall CC
J. California Cooper
J. California Cooper
Novelist/Short Story Writer/Playwright

J. California Cooper is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, and playwright whose work explores the private lives and thoughts of African American women. Poet Nikki Giovanni has said, "She's my favorite storyteller…What a gift she has of painting such a truthful yet warm picture of us humans. What a song she sings." Cooper's latest book is Wild Stars Seeking Midnight Suns (2006), a poignant collection of tales about women looking for happiness in the pursuit of love and money. Her most recent novel is Some People, Some Other Place (2004), a multigenerational, working class saga narrated by an unborn child. Other recent books include the novel, The Wake of the Wind (1998), and the story collections, The Future Has a Past (2000), and Homemade Love (1986), winner of the American Book Award. Cooper has also received the Literary Lion Award and the James Baldwin Writing Award of the American Library Association.

April 27
(Thursday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC

8:00 pm Reading
Assembly Hall CC
Horton Foote
Horton Foote
Playwright

Horton Foote is one of America's preeminent dramatists, known for his "intimate, loving, perceptive exploration of ordinary people and their often extraordinary resilience" (LA Times). Foote received the Pulitzer Prize for his 1995 stage play, The Young Man from Atlanta. Other plays include The Last of the Thorntons (2000), the nine-play Orphans' Home Cycle (written throughout the 1970s), The Chase (1956), and The Trip to Bountiful (1953; film 1985). Foote has twice received the Academy Award for Best Screenplay, for the film adaptation of Harper Lee's novel, To Kill A Mockingbird (1962), and for the original screenplay, Tender Mercies (1983). He is also the author of two autobiographies, Beginnings (2001) and Farewell: A Memoir of a Texas Childhood (1999). Foote is the recipient the National Medal of Arts (2000), and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Drama (1998), for lifetime achievement.
The Writers Institute will present one of Horton Foote's one act plays in an Authors Theatre presentation--a staged reading designed to bring out the literary aspect of a play, followed by commentary by the playwright and the actors.

May 1
(Monday)
8:00pm Staged Reading
BLIND DATE
Recital Hall PAC



May 2
(Tuesday)
4:15 pm Seminar
Assembly Hall CC
8:00 pm Reading
Page Hall
Nicole Krauss
Nicole Krauss
Novelist

Nicole Krauss, young novelist, is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The History of Love (2005), the story of Leo Gursky, a wisecracking old Jewish locksmith who lives on the Lower East Side. Sixty years earlier, in Poland, Gursky had written a novel, and had entrusted it to a friend whom, Gursky assumed, had perished in the Holocaust. One day, however, the novel turns up in Spanish, having been published in Chile under his friend's name. A selection of the Today Show Book Club, The History of Love has been optioned for a movie by Warner Brothers, to be directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Y Tu Mamá También). Krauss's first novel, which she published at the age of 27, was Man Walks into a Room (2002). In early praise, Susan Sontag said, "Nicole Krauss, with this remarkably felt, sharp-witted debut novel, strides into the forecourt of American letters."

May 3
(Wednesday)

4:15 pm Seminar
Standish Room NL

7:30 pm Reading
Recital Hall PAC
Everton Sylvester
Everton Sylvester
Performance Poet/Lyricist

Everton Sylvester, Jamaica-born, Brooklyn-based performance poet and lyricist, is one of the groundbreaking figures of New York City's "spoken word" arts scene. As "lead poet" of two bands, the Brooklyn Funk Essentials and Searching for Banjo, Sylvester presents narrative poems about urban life and Jamaican memory against a rich backdrop of jazz. Berkshire Eagle reviewer Seth Rogovoy said, "Everton Sylvester's lyrics are so much better than 99 percent of even the best popular song lyrics …." A regular performer at the famous Nuyorican Poets Café and at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Sylvester is the author of the poetry collection, Backyard in Bed-Stuy (2002), and has been featured on the PBS series, The United States of Poetry, in the video Slammin' (1996), and in the film, Prince of Central Park (2000). Sylvester will perform with his band Searching for Banjo. Cosponsored by the UArt Museum and supported by the Univ Commission for Diversity and Affirmative Action (UCDAA) and Spread the Word, UAlbany's student poetry group.

May 4
(Thursday)

7:00 pm Performance
Recital Hall PAC