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Pulitzer Prize winner lectures at OC

Wednesday, October 3, 2007  
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Marilynne Robinson, who received the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2005, was the keynote speaker at Oklahoma Christian University’s third annual McBride Lecture for Faith & Literature at OC on October 5.

Marilynne Robinson teaches at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is the author of two novels. Gilead won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Housekeeping (1980) won the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award from the Academy of American Arts and Letters. The novel was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and served as the basis for a movie of the same title starring Christine Lahti.

Robinson also is the author of influential nonfiction and essays. The nuclear-energy industry is her subject for Mother Country (1989). The Death of Adam (1988) covers a wide range of topics from Darwin to Calvin. She has written many essays in publications including Harper’s, Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review.

Named for Dr. Bailey and Joyce McBride, the annual lecture brings nationally known speakers to the university to explore the relationship of Christian faith and literature. Bailey McBride served as the university’s chief academic officer for many years.

Co-sponsors of Robinson’s visit include the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the Oklahoma Scholarship-Leadership Enrichment Program (OSLEP) of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. An OSLEP seminar will be conducted with students from across the state during Robinson’s visit.

Dr. Cami Agan, OSLEP Coordinator for Oklahoma Christian and Professor of English, said, “OSLEP is an annual program of seminars sponsored by the Oklahoma State Board of Regents wherein students have the opportunity to interact closely with world-renowned scholars and fellow students from Oklahoma’s universities in a highly-enthusiastic intellectual atmosphere. Invariably, the seminar experience becomes a seminal moment for young scholars and one which they value for many years.” Sixteen students from across the state will join in this short course with Robinson as their guest scholar.

Robinson will meet with students in a variety of additional venues and formats while Robinson is at Oklahoma Christian, said Scott LaMascus, Director of the McBride Center.

“Marilynne Robinson has been called a ‘living great’ American author and readers know her novels speak of important issues for the American soul,” said LaMascus, Professor of English. “We are grateful for all the partnerships which make this lecture series possible – free, public lectures by leading figures in the nation.” A book-signing reception will be conducted immediately following the evening lecture.

The early reception of Gilead has been positive and widespread. For example, Olivia Boler in The San Francisco Chronicle noted, “Gilead is chock full of rich, complex language, as well as plunges into intricate philosophical and spiritual introspections.” Not only do reviewers find the story of John Ames to be meaningful, but the style of Robinson’s writing inspires admiration. Michael Dirda, writing in The Washington Post, noted that her writing is “so serenely beautiful…that one feels touched with grace just to read it.” Verlyn Klinkenborg of The New York Times wrote of this unique style, “Marilynne Robinson rounded up the most ordinary words in the English Language and herded them into a single corral where she could sort them and dignify them by turning them into the thoughts of this quiet old man.” In Gilead, Ames narrates his story for the benefit of a young son, whom he fears he will not live to know.

To hear Robinson's speech at the McBride Lecture for Faith & Literature, click here.

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