University College at Fairfield University introduces the Inspired Writer Series beginning September 18 and 19

University College at Fairfield University introduces the Inspired Writer Series beginning September 18 and 19

University College at Fairfield University begins this academic year with a new distinguished author lecture series, the "Inspired Writers Series," hosted by Fairfield's Director of the new MFA Creative Writing Program Michael White. The series was initiated as a companion to the MFA program and celebrates all the program concentrations in fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry with a rotation of exemplary guest authors. Opening the inaugural season with lectures and book signings on sequential days are two acclaimed authors of the short story and scientific nonfiction: Nalini Jones on Thursday, Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library multimedia room and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker on Friday, Sept. 19 at 2 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center's Oak Room.

Nalini Jones is a former Fairfield University adjunct English instructor and the first-time author of What You Call Winter , an acclaimed collection of short stories published in hardcover and paperback by Random House imprints. Her lecture and reading will be webcast live at

Jones, the daughter of an Indian mother who grew up in a community similar to the one at the center of her stories and an American jazz musician, explains the evolution of her curiosity about migration in very personal terms, "This (curiosity) began with questions about my mother's experience, but soon became an encompassing interest." With a father who toured with jazz musicians and was away for long stretches of time and much of her family living at the other end of the world, Jones grew up with an acute awareness of distance and a penetrating interest in the way distance functions in families.

The Washington Post likened Jones' richly detailed writing style to "Chekhov - and this young writer is good enough to merit the comparison..." Jones will read from her work and sign copies of her debut collection of short stories. Admission to this event is free.

The following afternoon, experimental psychologist and Harvard Professor Steven Pinker takes up the writing thread with scientific nonfiction and the fascinating exploration of the many aspects of language, an interest he cultivated in graduate school.

His work has evolved from initial research in visual cognition - the ability to imagine shapes, recognize faces and objects - to language development in children - how they acquire the words and grammatical structures of their mother tongue.

Broadening his interest in language development in children, he has also studied language development in twins. Recently, he has begun lines of research on the nature of reminding and on the function of innuendo and other forms of indirect speech.

In addition to his scholarly and experimental works on language and visual cognition, Pinker is the author of five books written for a general audience. His popular works focus on aspects of language as a biological adaptation, on the span of vision and reasoning to the emotions, humor and art and on an exploration of the political, moral and emotional colorings of the concept of human nature. His most recent book, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window Into Human Nature was described in The New York Times review as "Curious, inventive, fearless, naughty" and was a New York Times bestseller. William Safire called Pinker, "Harvard's most eminent explicator" and declaims, "... you will not soon forget Pinker." Tickets are $15 and are available at the door.

University College's new two-year low-residency MFA program in Creative Writing begins with the Winter 2008 Residency at Enders Island off the coast of Mystic, Conn. The Inspired Writers Series serves as a preview of the scope of the program and of the type of faculty Program Director White has assembled for the new MFA. White, himself a successful novelist has received national recognition and acclaim for his most recent novel Soul Catcher , published by HarperCollins.

To make reservations for the Inspired Writers Series, call University College at (203) 254-4110. For more information about the MFA program in Creative Writing or the Inspired Writers Series, visit the website at and

Listen to Nalini Jones reading on iTunes or download the audio
Read a transcript of her chat

Posted On: 08-25-2008 10:08 AM

Volume: 41 Number: 35