University College presents Open VISIONS Forum with author Joyce Carol Oates


Open VISIONS Forum (OVF), the provocative and ever-illuminating series presented by University College of Fairfield University, begins 2008 with a Sunday afternoon event featuring Joyce Carol Oates, one of America's most versatile and serious writers. The internationally respected author will appear through a collaborative venture between the Pequot Library and Open VISIONS Forum at the Quick Center for the Arts, Sunday, Jan. 20 at 3 p.m. Dr. Philip Eliasoph, the OVF series director, will moderate. In addition, Pequot Library has organized a Book Discussion Forum with teachers and students from the Fairfield high schools.

"This is a wonderful, three-way collaboration between Fairfield University, Pequot Library, and the public high schools," says Dan Snydacker, executive director of the Library. "Together these three institutions are enriching the cultural life of the community in a really wonderful way. For its part in the collaborative effort, Pequot Library is hosting a reception for Ms. Oates before her lecture. The teachers are also invited to the reception."

The critic James Atlas wrote of Joyce Carol Oates' work: "The engine of Oates's immense talent is powered by a fecund imagination and an immense knowledge of literature, as all her writing - both fiction and nonfiction - made plain."

At twenty-one, while still in college at Syracuse University, she won the Mademoiselle College Fiction Contest and that early prize was instrumental in solidifying the foundation of her literary reputation. Her work has consistently garnered great acclaim and she has amassed an impressive collection of achievements and prestigious awards, among them, three Pulitzer Prizes. In addition, she has won the National Book Award - multiple times, the PEN Faulkner Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award, to name but a few.

The scope of Oates' writing is enormous, encompassing, as it does, nearly every genre: short stories, novels and novellas, poetry, essays and nonfiction, drama, anthologies as well as children's and young adult literature.

Oates' dynamism has sparked inquisitive minds for decades and with the participation of local high school students at her appearance - courtesy of the Pequot Library and University College's OVF - a new generation of Oates readers will, no doubt be born. The students will read one of Oates' early novels, "Them," and join with adults from the community to discuss the work at the Library. Furthermore, the students who participate are invited to Oates' lecture as guests of the University and Pequot Library. After the lecture they will be introduced to the author.

Clearly, no subject intimidates Oates and she is conversant on a myriad of topics. She possesses a voracious curiosity that combines dramatic scholarship with an innate attraction to dangerous exploration and clears the path for her to exercise her formidable passion as a vehicle by which she communicates a unique view and expressive voice. The long list of her New York Times Notable Books of the Year is, but one testament to her ability to capture the imagination of readers the world over.

"The Journal of Joyce Carol Oates: 1973-1982" was published in 2007 and in it, she wrote so many years ago, "Writing is ... a drug, sweet, irresistible and exhausting." Her description of what writing means to her - in just four words - offers a tiny window into what drives her.

In a brief biography written by Greg Johnson in his "Reader's Guide to the Recent Novels of..." he remarks that "her commitment to literature as a transcendent human activity remains steadfast. Not surprisingly, a quotation from that other prolific American writer, Henry James, is affixed to the bulletin board over her desk ... 'We work in the dark - we do what we can - we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.'"

Tickets are $45 and are available online at the Open VISIONS Forum website, www.fairfield.edu/openvisions or by calling the Quick Center Box Office at (203) 254-4010; toll free at 1-877-ARTS-396.

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Media Contact: Joan Grant, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, jgrant@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 3, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 144