Robert Penn Warren Center

The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities promotes interdisciplinary research and study in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. Because cooperative study in higher education is crucial to the modern university and the society it influences, the Center is designed to intensify and increase interdisciplinary discussion of academic, social, and cultural issues.  It’s a great resource for MFA students.  The Creative Writing Program has sometimes scheduled casual conversations with visiting writers in the Warren Center’s seminar room.

Upcoming events at the Warren Center include:

Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture Van Jones will present this year’s Harry C. Howard Jr. Lecture at 4:10 pm on Wednesday, October 19 in the Sarratt Cinema. Mr. Jones’ talk is entitled “Rebuild the American Dream: Green Jobs and Beyond.” Jones, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a senior policy advisor at Green for All, also holds a joint appointment at Princeton University as distinguished visiting fellow in the Center for African American Studies and the Program in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. In 2008, Jones published his influential book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix our Two Biggest Problems. His presentation will contribute to the Sustainability Project, a year-long series of courses and programming spearheaded by Vanderbilt’s Program in American Studies.

Polar Probings: Sculpture by Gabriel Warren The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery will present a number of works by artist Gabriel Warren October 13 through December 8, 2011. The opening reception will be held October 13 at 5:00 pm at Cohen Memorial Hall. Warren, who was the first artist-in-residence in Antarctica, creates sculptures using natural ice formations as source material.  His exhibit is being presented in conjunction with this year’s campus-wide initiative on sustainability with support from the Warren Center, the Department of English, the College of Arts and Science Dean’s Office, and the American Studies Program.

Robert Penn Warren Center

Events scheduled at the Warren Center have included:

  • The Art of Narrative Writing The purpose of this workshop was to gather writers interested in the art of narrative non-fiction and intereseted, in particular, in the possibility of bringing together scholarly narrative and narrative non-fiction techniques. The group met to workshop participants’ writing and to read and discuss works of narrative non-fiction and pieces about craft. The seminar coordinator was Paul Kramer from the History Department.
  • Guest Speakers/Events

A public lecture by Adam Hochschild (journalism, UC-Berkeley) entitled “’Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch…’ What Scholars Can Learn from Novelists and Journalists about Storytelling.”

A reading by Brenda Marshall, author and part-time professor of English at the University of Michigan, and a discussion of her new historic novel Dakota, Or What’s a Heaven For? The Program in Career Development and the Writing Center co-sponsored and the Warren Center hosted a reception following the reading.

A lecture by Paul Silvia, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, on “Motivation, Creativity, and (Not) Writing.” Silvia is the author of How to Write A Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing, Exploring the Psychology of Interest, and Public Speaking for Psychologists: A Lighthearted Guide to Research Presentations, Job Talks, and Other Opportunities to Embarrass Yourself. His campus visit was cosponsored by the Warren Center, the College of Arts and Science Program for Career Development, and the Writing Studio.

A reading by Ellen Bass of Pacific University and also a talk about her own poetry and about poems by survivors of trauma and poems about grief and loss entitled,  “Strange Angels: Poetry as Survival.” Bass’ thesis is that creativity gives us a way to transform our experience, to take a destructive event and to work with it in a way that is life-affirming; she told the audience that writing, as an active, rather than a passive process, allows us to become makers rather than objects being acted upon.

A talk by Gail McConnell of Queens University, Belfast who held a year-long Warren Center Graduate Student Fellowship.  The paper, entitled “‘Promising nothing under the sun’: Theological Aesthetics in the Poetry of Derek Mahon,” expanded on her thesis about Derek Mahon’s poetry.

For a full calendar of events and discussions at the Warren Center, visit its website here.