Life Stories Highlight 2015 Hermanns Lectures

The art of autobiographies abounds in the 2015 Hermanns Lectures Series Oct. 23 in the Central Library’s Sixth Floor Parlor.

Hosted by the Department of English, this year’s Hermanns Lectures is titled “Writing American Lives: From Diary and Memoir to Twitter and Comic Books” and features scholars from across North America. The lecture series will include three panels with two leading scholars and finish with a roundatable featuring English faculty.

“This year the lecture series should appeal to a wide audience: anyone interested in the way that people narrate their life stories, and how it has changed historically from hand-written forms like letters and diaries, to the social media forms that dominate our digital age,” said Associate Professor Desiree Henderson (English). 

In the first panel, Henderson (who serves as the event committee chair) and Utah State University professor Jennifer Sinor what is and isn’t written from famous women in history. In the second panel, Texas Christian University’s Theresa Strouth Gaul and UT San Antonio’s Joycelyn Moody tackle issues concerning race and ethnicity.

Afternoon panels include a look at new media with Laurie McNeill (University of British Columbia) and Michael Chaney (Dartmouth University) and a roundtable moderated by Associate Professor Nakia Pope (Philosophy).

“Every year the Hermanns Lecture Series seeks to expose the audience to new, exciting and groundbreaking developments in the field of literary studies,” Henderson said. “This year’s we showcase how literary critics are grappling with the meaning and significance of autobiographical writing, which continues to gain popularity among readers and is exerting a profound influence on contemporary culture through social media and other digital forms of self-expression.”

The Hermanns Lecture Series, initially named the Katherine Anne Porter Memorial Lecture Series, began almost three decades ago. Rudolph Hermanns, a local horticultural salesman, was a German immigrant who lived UT Arlington. When he died in 1985, he left part of his estate to UT Arlington and the Rudolf Hermanns Endowment for Excellence was founded to enhance academic excellence as well as campus beautification.

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2015 Hermanns Lectures Series
“Writing American Lives: From Diary and Memoir to Twitter and Comic Books”
Friday, Oct. 23, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Central Library, Sixth Floor Parlor

9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. – Panel 1: The Written and Unwritten Self
Desiree Henderson (UT Arlington), “Emily Dickinson and Diary Culture”
Jennifer Sinor (Utah State), “Welcoming Absence in Women’s Lifewriting: Celebrating the Voidins Diaries, Letters, and Memoirs”

11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Panel 2: Restoring Women’s Voices
Theresa Strouth Gaul (Texas Christian), “Cherokee Epistolary Activism in the Early Nineteenth Century: The Life and Letters of Catharine Brown”
Joycelyn Moody (UT San Antonio), “Depicting Power: Black Women and Visual Culture”

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Lunch

1:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. – Panel 3: Life Writing Through New Media
Laurie McNeill (University of British Columbia), “Curation, Assemblage, Archive: Creating Digital Lives”
Michael Chaney (Dartmouth), “History as Autobiography in Contemporary African American Comics and Graphic Narrative”

3 p.m. – 4 p.m. – Panel 4: Teaching Life Writing: A Roundtable Discussion
Moderator: Nakia Pope (Director, UTArlington Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence)
Participants: English Department faculty members Peggy Kulesz, Kenneth Roemer, Bethany Shaffer and Kathryn Warren

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