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Center for American Literary Studies to sponsor Community Read of Hemingway novel

on January 14, 2008 12:00 AM
Center for American Literary Studies to sponsor Community Read of Hemingway novel
Monday, January 14, 2008

Throughout the spring term, Penn State's Center for American Literary Studies, in partnership with the Penn State University Libraries and the Penn State Institute for Arts and Humanities, will sponsor a Community Read of Ernest Hemingway's "A Farewell to Arms." The Community Read will feature a number of Hemingway-related lectures and discussions of the book that will take place throughout March and April.


"A Farewell to Arms" was chosen as the book for the 2008 Community Read by Sandra Spanier, professor of English and a  Hemingway specialist and editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, which will result in the first complete edition of Hemingway's more than 6,000 extant letters. Spanier said that "A Farewell to Arms" remains her favorite Hemingway novel. "The style approaches poetry," she said. "The book remains timely 80 years after it was written."


The Community Read will kick off with a lecture by  James Nagel, author of "Hemingway in Love and War," at 7:30 p.m.  Wednesday, March 5, at the Nittany Lion Inn. Nagel's account of Hemingway's First World War experiences formed the basis of a Hollywood film directed by Richard Attenborough, starring Sandra Bullock and Chris O'Donnell.

Short story writer and memoirist Tobias Wolff will deliver the Penn State University Libraries Charles W. Mann lecture on Thursday, March 6. The time and place will be announced at a later date. Wolff's most recent work, his 2003 novel "Old School," revolves around the experiences of a young writer eager to meet Hemingway, his literary idol.


Pairs of Penn State faculty will lead discussions of "A Farewell to Arms" for all interested readers at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, April 1 and April 8 in 102 Kern Building, University Park.


Jonathan Bank, artistic director of New York City's Mint Theater, will give a talk about Hemingway's little-known play of the Spanish Civil War, "The Fifth Column," at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 16, in Foster Auditorium.


Susan Beegel, editor of the Hemingway Review, will present a multi-media presentation about the World War I context of "A Farewell to Arms" at 7:30 p.m. April 17 in Foster Auditorium.


The Community Read will culminate with a gala lecture at 7:30 p.m. April 18 in the Ballroom of the Atherton Hotel in downtown State College. The gala will feature Spanier, who will offer her interpretation of "A Farewell to Arms," as well as responses by Hemingway scholars Professor Debra Moddelmog of Ohio State University, Professor Robert W. Trogdon of Kent State University and Professor Susan Beegel  of University of Idaho.


The center also is sponsoring a Community Read essay prize for Penn State undergraduates. The first prize of $500 for the best essay about "A Farewell to Arms" will be awarded at the gala. All events for the Community Read are free to the public. For  information, see the Center for American Literary Studies Web site at  or contact Hester Blum at  

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