Sarah Vowell, author, journalist and cultural historian, who regularly contributes to public radiosThis American Life,will be the final speaker in the West Virginia University Festival of Ideas lecture series. She will appear at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 11, at the Mountainlair Ballrooms.
Vowell will discuss her latest book,Assassination Vacation,a road trip into the history and ethnography of violence and the American presidency. The book is a comical, yet haunting, road trip through the tourist destinations of three assassinated American presidents: Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield and William McKinley.
The focus of this years series is Lincoln, examining his legacy as a politician, historical figure, leader and cultural icon. Events in the series have included a Pulitzer-prize winning author, a political humorist and various authors and discussion has ranged from Lincolns presidency to how his depression might have influenced his decisions to a panel debate about the future of the penny.
Vowell is best known for her monologues and documentaries onThis American Life,serving as a contributing editor since 1996. The New York Times has commended herfunny querulous voice and shrewd comic delivery,and the San Francisco Chronicle has called Vowellone of the more important voices of her generation.
As both a critic and a reporter, Vowell has contributed to numerous newspapers and magazines, including Esquire, GQ, Los Angeles Times, Village Voice, Spin, The New York Times Book Review and McSweeneys. She is a former columnist for Time, Salon.com and San Francisco Weekly. Her essays appear inThe Rose and the Briar,The Future Dictionary of America,Dial-A-Song: Twenty years of They Might Be Giants,Marcel DzamasThe Berlin Yearsand Richard RossWaiting for the End of the World.
Vowell has appeared onThe Late Show with David LettermanandThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart,and she is a regular onLate Night with Conan OBrien.
In addition, she is a fellow at the New York Institute for Humanities at NYU and is president of the board of 826NYC, a nonprofit writing and tutoring center for students ages 6 to 19 in Brooklyn. She is currently working on a new book about the Puritans, tentatively titledPuritan Nation.
The first Festival series occurred shortly after WVU President David C. Hardesty Jr. took office in 1995. It was inspired by a similar series Hardesty organized as WVU student body president years earlier.
Hardesty commented,Its impossible for any of us to perceive the full array of ideas that flourish across our campus at any given moment. By participating in the Festival of Ideas, however, we can each observe and enhance the creative process that defines our work, and, more importantly, we can each participate in that intellectual forum.
Festival presentations are free and open to the public; however, seating is limited to a first-come, first-served basis. They are organized by WVU Arts and Entertainment. More at:http://www.events.wvu.edu/foi/index.shtml