Award-winning writer Patricia Hampl to deliver Fairfield University's 4th Annual Catholicism and the Arts Lecture


"I would like my writing to be precise enough, detailed enough so that the attention I bring to bear on something unlocks a door to the reader's life. In that way, by honoring one's own life, it's possible to extend empathy and compassion to others." - Patricia Hampl

HamplBooklist once said of award-winning author Patricia Hampl that she has helped define the "memoir of discovery." Moreover, Dan Cryer in Newsday observed Hampl should be required reading: "If Patricia Hampl had written memoirs chronicling her days in New York or Los Angeles, her name would be on every American reader's lips. Hailing from flyover country, Minnesota, she has fewer readers than she deserves."

An influential figure in the rise of autobiographical writing who often reflects on her Catholicism, Hampl will deliver Fairfield University's 4th Annual Catholicism and the Arts Lecture on Wednesday, October 28 at 8 p.m. Sponsored by Fairfield's Center for Catholic Studies, her talk is entitled, "Sacrament of Self: Catholic Roots of Contemporary Memoir." It is free and open to the public, and will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. For information, call (203) 254-4000, ext. 3415.

The recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, her long list of critically acclaimed books include "A Romantic Education," "The Florist's Daughter," "Virgin Time: In Search of the Contemplative Life," and "I Could Tell You Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory."

Hampl, Regents Professor and McKnight Distinguished Professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, often reflects on her faith and contemplative life. "When I was a child, I had a powerful sense that I wanted to commemorate things," Hampl told the Alaska Quarterly Review. "I even remember thinking at the time that it was a strange word for a twelve-year old to use. But of course Catholic children grow up with a lot of long words... But it is the idea that every life is sacred and that life is composed of details, of lost moments, of things that nobody cares about, including the people who are wounded or overjoyed by those moments. I don't think people allow themselves to value their lives enough."

With her memoir "A Romantic Education," Hampl established herself as an important voice in the field of autobiographical writing. She was awarded a Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship for the book, in which she explored her Czech roots. In "Virgin Time," named a coveted New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year, she explores her Catholic upbringing: "On her pilgrimage to Saint Francis's Assisi, she meets other seekers - crotchety English agnostics, American friars and nuns, and the ardent souls that fill every charter flight."

Her 2007 book "The Florist's Daughter" was the winner of numerous "best" and "year end" awards, including the New York Times "100 Notable Books of the Year" and the 2008 Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction. "Blue Arabesque: A Search for the Sublime" was also named one of the New York Times Notable Books.

In 2000, "I Could Tell You Stories," her collection of essays, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in General Nonfiction. Her first book was a collection of poems, "Woman Before an Aquarium," published in 1978. She is also the author of "Resort and Other Poems," published in 1983. She is the editor of "Burning Bright," published in 1995, a collection of poetry described as deeply felt religious sensibilities from believers of the three great monotheistic religions of the West - Christianity, Judaism, Islam.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on October 9, 2009

Vol. 42, No. 84