Lecture Date: 2-6-1996
Click the link below to listen ot his celebrity's lecture:
Interview: Writer Jane Smiley is introduced by Dean John Eadie and Professor William Penn who discusses the underlying themes in Smiley's novels. Smiley believes that the novels she began reading at age six inspired her to become an author and showed her that she has an inner voice. Smiley discusses the role of writing plays in our society today. Writing is not only a form of enjoyment and enlightenment but a political tool. Smiley sees the novel as a liberal art, expressing ideas of freedom and choice, because there is freedom inherent in both writing and reading literature. Smiley explains her theory on the individual nature of the novel and the relationship that develops between the writer, the reader, and the characters in the story. The author clarifies the importance of freedom and complexity both in the novel and in real life. She illustrates the history of the novel from the perspective of both the writer and the reader. Video games, movies, and other popular forms of entertainment suppress the freedom that reading and writing promote, explains Smiley. This suppression threatens to destroy the liberalism which currently exists in the United States. Although she does not believe that the novel alone can save liberalism and individuality, Smiley believes that the novel inspires people to see what is possible. Smiley concludes her lecture by answering questions from the audience where she discusses her development as a writer, her works, popular media, her background, and strategies for preserving the novel.
Biography: Jane Smiley (1949- ) a novelist born in Los Angeles, California, has written twelve works of fiction covering a wide array of topics, including politics, farming, horse training, impulse buying, Barbie, and marriage. Some of her works include The Age of Grief (1987), The Greenlanders (1988), Ordinary Love and Good Will (1989), Moo (1995), Horse Heaven (2000), and A Thousand Acres (1991), which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1992, as well as many essays for such magazines as Vogue, The New Yorker, Practical Horseman, Harper's, and many others. Her most recent novel, Good Faith (2003), is a scathing indictment of the Greed Decade of the 1980s.