Southwestern University enjoyed a public reading by Joyce Carol Oates, who read from her poetry volume titled Tenderness, and also from work in progress on Tuesday, November 14, in the Alma Thomas Theater.
Ms. Oates' reading was open to the public with no admission fee.
Following Ms. Oates' reading, she answered a number of questions from the audience. A reception and book signing followed in Caldwell-Carvey Foyer. The Southwestern Bookstore offered books for sale at the reception.
Joyce Carol Oates is the author of many distinguished books in several genres. In addition to numerous novels and short story collections, she has published volumes of poetry, books of plays, five books of literary criticism, and the book-length essay On Boxing. John Gardner has called her "one of the greatest writers of our time."
Ms. Oates is currently a finalist for the National Book Award for her most recent book, Blonde: A Novel (Ecco Press, 2000). The winner of the National Book Award will be announced in New York the evening following Ms. Oates' visit to Southwestern. Blonde is a fictionalized autobiography of Marilyn Monroe that draws on biographical and historical sources to evoke "the distinct consciousness of the woman and the unsparing reflection of the myth."
Ms. Oates' fiction documents a highly complex America populated with presumably ordinary families who experience common yet intense emotions and relationships and who frequently encounter violence. Her ambition is to create a fictional world that mirrors the ambiguity and felt experience of the real world of her time. Her work incisively addresses issues of race, class, and sex.
"As Oates stated in a Chicago Tribune Book World discussion of her themes, 'I am concerned with only one thing: the moral and social conditions of my generation.' Henry Louis Gates, Jr. of the Nation suggests that 'a future archeologist equipped with only her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America.'" (Contemporary Authors)
Ms. Oates' first book, a collection of short stories, was published in 1963 when she was 25, and since then she has published on average two books per year. With the publication of her novel them (Vanguard Press, 1969), Ms. Oates became one of the youngest writers to receive the National Book Award. The novel depicts three decades in the life of a poor family trapped in a cycle of violence and poverty in Detroit, and its publication secured her reputation.
On the occasion of the publication of You Must Remember This, critic James Atlas called it "an American Masterpiece." Many of Ms. Oates' short stories have been anthologized and become standards in survey courses on American literature.
Joyce Carol Oates is also a playwright whose plays have been performed widely in the United States and abroad. She has been involved with student productions and readings of her plays at Northwestern University, the University of Pennsylvania, Williams College, Brown University, and the Los Angeles Theatre Academy. Her plays have been collected in Twelve Plays (NAL/Dutton, 1991), The Perfectionist And Other Plays (Ecco Press, 1995), and New Plays (Ontario Review Press, 1998). In spring 1999 her book-length play The Passion of Henry David Thoreau was produced by the Northwestern University Drama School. She wrote the libretto for an opera made of her novel Black Water, most recently performed at L.A. Theater Works.
Recent books of poetry include The Time Traveller (Dutton, 1989) and The Invisible Woman: New and Selected Poems (Ontario Review Press, 1982).
Ms. Oates has also written several Gothic novels, and novels, including mysteries, under the pseudonym Rosamond Smith.
Born in upstate New York in 1938, Joyce Carol Oates received her BA from Syracuse University in 1960 and her MA from the University of Wisconsin in 1961. Since 1987 she has been Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University.
compiled from "Joyce Carol Oates" in Contemporary Authors, New Revision Series, volume 74, p.268-76 (Gale Group, 1999) and from various promotional materials and book reviews.
Mademoiselle college fiction award, 1959, for "In the Old World"
With Shuddering Fall, 1964
By the North Gate, 1963
Women in Love and Other Poems, 1968
The Edge of Impossibility: Tragic Forms in Literature, 1972
The Sweet Enemy, 1965
Contributor of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to periodicals, including New York Times Book Review, New York Times Magazine, New York Review of Books, New Yorker, Harper's, Times Literary Supplement, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mademoiselle, Vogue, Hudson Review, Paris Review, Grand Street, Atlantic, Poetry, and Esquire.
Editor with husband, Raymond Smith, of Ontario Review.
Celestial Timepiece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page" - a resource for fans, students, and scholars of Joyce Carol Oates's work. Features news, works, research, biography, discussion, awards, photos, et al.
During her visit last November, Ms. Oates met with students and faculty in classes and in social events. Before her visit to campus, the library sponsored informal book discussions and a panel discussion which centered around Ms. Oates' works On Boxing and Solstice.
On Boxing (Ecco Press, 1994), a book-length essay, is a fascinating study of the 'sweet science.' It has been widely lauded for its powerful insights on the brutal sport. Oates explores boxing from multiple perspectives: historical, political, and sociological, to name just a few. Her multifaceted approach makes this book "good fare for fans and haters alike," according to a reviewer.
Solstice, (Dutton, 1985), a novel, explores the obsessive friendship that develops between two very different women. Recently divorced Monica Jensen is blond, sweet and conventional, while painter Sheila Trask is a dark, aloof nonconformist. The twisted course of their relationship over a number of months provides a gripping psychological drama.
9, from noon to 1 p.m. in McCombs Campus Center
27, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the SLC Prothro Room
1, from 4 to 5 p.m. in the SLC Prothro Room
Ms. Oates' reading was funded by the Susan Vaughan Foundation, Inc. of Houston. This is the first in what we hope to establish as an annual series. It is our intent that the series will bring a writer of national or international prominence to the Southwestern University campus each year.
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