Pulitzer Prize winner to present Richard W. Gunn Lecture

Thu, 10/24/2013


Chris McKitterick
Director of Center for the Study of Science Fiction

LAWRENCE — Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and Washington Post columnist Michael Dirda will present the Richard W. Gunn Memorial Lecture, “A Literary Life: Twenty-Five Years at the Washington Post Book World,” from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29, in the Big 12 Room of the Kansas Union.

Dirda joined the staff of The Washington Post as an assistant editor of book reviews in 1978. In those days, The Post still used typewriters, six-ply paper and linotype machines, and was riding high in the wake of Watergate. During his lecture, Dirda will talk about literary journalism then and now, life at a great newspaper, some of the writers he has come to know and the ongoing evolution of books and publishing.

Dirda is the author of the memoir “An Open Book” and of four collections of essays: “Readings,” “Bound to Please,” “Book by Book” and “Classics for Pleasure.” His latest book, “On Conan Doyle,” received the 2012 Edgar Allan Poe Award for nonfiction from the Mystery Writers of America. A Fulbright Fellowship recipient, Dirda graduated with highest honors in English from Oberlin College and earned a doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University.

The Gunn Lecture is endowed by Richard W. Gunn, brother of James Gunn, KU professor emeritus of English and director of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. Although the lecture series has also sponsored speakers on Shakespeare and Ralph Ellison, it often brings distinguished science-fiction scholars to campus, beginning with scholar Fredric Jameson, William A. Lane Professor at Duke University; and with Bill Brown, Edgar Carson Waller Professor at the University of Chicago; China Miéville, British author of what has become known as the New Weird; and Nöel Sturgeon, Theodore Sturgeon's daughter and trustee of his literary estate, and professor of critical cultures, gender and race studies at Washington State University, and juror for the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award.

The Center also recently co-sponsored a visit from Michael Chabon, prize-winning author and editor.

The Center is associated with the Department of English in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The College encourages learning without boundaries in its more than 50 departments, programs and centers. Curriculum in the College emphasizes interdisciplinary education, global awareness and experiential learning. The College is KU's broadest, most diverse academic unit.

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