Letters Archive
Spring 1999, Vol. 7, No. 2
  • Exploring Saturn
  • Jumping the Dragon Gate: Storytellers and the Creation of the Shanghai Identity
  • Teaching the Holocaust
  • Lecture on Southern Letters
  • Lecture on Southern Studies

    On Friday, October 9 the Warren Center and the Tennessee Humanities Council jointly sponsored the inaugural Robert Penn Warren Lecture on Southern Letters. Held in conjunction with the Council's annual Southern Festival of Books, the premier lecture was presented by author Elizabeth Spencer and was attended by an audience of approximately 350 at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Nashville. Also that evening, the Southern Book Critics Circle presented the Southern Book Award for fiction to Charles Frazier for Cold Mountain, the Southern Book Award for non-fiction to Edward Ball for Slaves in the Family, and a Distinguished Achievement Award to the University of Georgia Press.

    The Tennessee Humanities Council's Southern Festival of Books marked its tenth anniversary in 1998. The festival features more than 200 authors and attracts approximately 35,000 visitors from across the Southeast. "Despite the fact that the Southern Festival of Books is one of the largest literary festivals in the nation, I can say with ease that it is, by a good distance, the most elegantly organized and realized that I know of," said author Reynolds Price. The addition of a distinguished lecture named after one of the nation's finest literary figures adds luster to an already impressive public humanities event.

    The inaugural speaker, Elizabeth Spencer, is a distinguished creative writer whose southern roots (she grew up in Carrollton, Mississippi) remain at the core of her writing. In her most recent book, Landseapes of the Heart: A Memoir, she recounts her experiences growing up in Mississippi and her subsequent moves to Italy, Canada, and back to the southern United States. In Ms. Spencer's lecture, as in her memoir, she recounted her friendships with Eudora Welty, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Walker Percy, John Crowe Ransom, Allen Tate, and Robert Penn Warren. Planning is underway for the second Robert Penn Warren Lecture, which is scheduled to be given on Friday, October 8, 1999.

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    For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.

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