World-renowned Harvard professor to give 2007 Bastian Lecture
RELEASED: March 29, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—Helen Vendler, the A. Kingsley Porter University Professor at Harvard and world-renowned scholar of poetry written in English, will deliver the 2007 Bastian Lecture at Centre on April 5 at 7 p.m. in the board room of the Norton Center for the Arts. The lecture is free and open to the public.
"Helen Vendler is one of the great advocates for poetry in our time because she's one of its greatest readers," remarks Helen Emmitt, associate professor of English at Centre. "Her work on such major (and diverse) figures as Wallace Stevens, W.B. Yeats and George Herbert has transformed the critical discourse on these writers. But her many essays and books on contemporary poetry have taught us how to read some of the most challenging and rewarding poets of our time from Seamus Heaney to Jorie Graham."
Vendler's lecture, titled "The Yeatsian Sequence: 'Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen,'" will focus on Yeats's poem of the same name. The poem is a sequence in six parts about the turmoil before the Irish Civil War.
Vendler recently has been called the "grand dame of poetry criticism" and the "best poetry reviewer in America." Her reviews of contemporary poetry and criticism have appeared in TheNew Yorker, New York Review of Books, the New Republic and other publications. Her most recent books include Poets Thinking: Pope, Whitman, Dickinson, Yeats; Coming of Age As a Poet: Milton, Keats, Eliot, Plath; and Seamus Heaney. Her Harvard-published book, Part of Nature, Part of Us: Modern American Poetry, won the National Book Critics Circle Award.
"The young respond to poetry for the same reason I did at their age," Vendler said in a recent lecture. "Poems tell complex truths of human response, and they structure words with particular force, wit, charm and intellectual responsibility."
Vendler received a Ph.D. in English and American literature from Harvard in 1960. Before joining the Harvard faculty in 1985, she taught at Cornell, Swarthmore, Haverford, Smith and Boston University. She has held many fellowships and is a member of several academic organizations, including the Modern Language Association. She holds 23 honorary degrees from universities and colleges in the United States, England, Ireland and Norway.The Centre College Bastian Lecture is named after Carol Bastian, Centre Emeritus Professor of English. Each spring a prominent scholar in English or American literary studies is invited to present a public lecture on campus.
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