Friday, January 11, 2013

Writers Institute Announces Spring 2013 Series

Dear Readers, Writers, Teachers, Students and All Members of the General Public,

The New York State Writers Institute at the University at Albany announces its Spring 2013 schedule of visiting writer appearances and film series screenings. Events take place on the UAlbany uptown and downtown campuses and are free and open to the public (unless otherwise noted).

The Spring 2013 Visiting Writers Series features appearances by a Tony-nominated Broadway actor; a leading voice of the New York Times Editorial and Op-Ed pages; a visionary scientist who is the "founding father" of nanotechnology; a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist who explores spiritual and moral crises in America; a MacArthur fellow who has been called "the funniest writer in America"; a major American novelist who, at age 87, will present his first novel in 30 years; and a new, award-winning Ken Burns documentary to be screened, by special arrangement, eleven days in advance of its national PBS television air date.

"The new spring 2013 Visiting Writers Series was a profound pleasure to put together-so many interesting, talented authors!-from first book writers like the memoirist Christa Parravani and New York historian Marguerite Holloway, through to well-established novelists like Marilynne Robinson, Chris Bohjalian, and James Salter, we're once more able to present the best in contemporary literature. This is one of our strongest line-ups in recent years," said Institute Director Donald Faulkner.

The season will open with the annual Burian Lecture delivered by Tony-nominated actor Colman Domingo, a rising star of the American stage, a "blazingly charismatic performer" (New York Times), and a playwright whose work has been called, "Wicked, tender, outrageous and profound" (Newsday).

That same week, influential futurist and ground-breaking environmental scientist Jorgen Randers will present his new book, 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, a cautionary view of the earth's future and the collapse of its natural resources. An opposite forecast is offered at the end of our season by K. Eric Drexler, the "founding father" of nanotechnology presenting his latest book, Radical Abundance, which argues that nanoscience will usher in a new age of plenty. Other nonfiction writers featured this season include noted photographer Christa Parravani with a piercing memoir about the death of her identical twin sister; award-winning poet and nature writer Gretel Ehrlich, who writes about her visits to tsunami-ravaged Japan; Columbia University Science Journalism program director Marguerite Holloway presenting a deep history of Manhattan's street grid; colonial historian Russell Shorto, whose work on Dutch New York "permanently alter[ed] the way we regard our collective past" (New York Times); and Gail Collins, one of the wittiest political commentators in American journalism.

George Saunders and Nathan Englander, major prize-winning short story writers, will be featured among our visiting fiction writers. UAlbany Professor Emeritus Gene Mirabelli will present his new novel about the valiant struggles of an aging painter. Mirabelli will share the stage with Ann Hood, bestselling author of The Knitting Circle, who is well-known for finding inspiration in the challenges posed by grief and loss. Eighty-seven-year-old James Salter, one of the most acclaimed American novelists of the last half century, will present his first novel in 30 years, All That Is (Salter will not be touring with his book, and his appearance at the Institute will be a unique privilege). Novelist Marilynne Robinson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Gilead (2004), will deliver the 72nd Annual McKinney Reading and Vollmer Fries Lecture at Rensselaer (RPI). Manil Suri, Indian-American novelist and mathematician, will visit with a new novel set in Mumbai under threat of nuclear attack. Finally, Chris Bohjalian, a prolific writer of bestsellers and Oprah Book Club author, will present his new epic of the Armenian genocide, Sandcastle Girls.

"Our re-energized film series continues its year-long collaboration with the School of Criminal Justice, and also with film critic J. Hoberman, who has acted as guest curator in the selection process," said Faulkner.

The spring selections for the Future of Film series curated by Hoberman include the Russian 2002 film, RUSSIAN ARK, the French-Taiwanese 2007 film, FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON; the Romanian 2005 film, THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU; and, in advance of St. Patrick's Day, HUNGER, an Irish 2008 film about Bobby Sands and the 1981 Prison Hunger Strike.

The second mini-series, Justice & Multiculturalism in the 21st Century, is part of a multifaceted project sponsored by UAlbany's School of Criminal Justice, aimed at engaging conversations about the intersection of social justice and criminal justice. The spring series will open with HOMELAND: FOUR PORTRAITS OF NATIVE ACTION (2006), an artfully constructed film about environmental disasters on American Indian reservations. The second film will be CENTRAL PARK FIVE (2012), a new look at the Central Park Jogger case by major documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, codirected with his daughter Sarah Burns and David McMahon, based on Sarah Burns' book. The film received "Best Documentary" at the 2012 New York Critics Circle Awards. A member of the film's directorial team is scheduled to attend the screening and provide commentary. The final film in the series will be ONCE WERE WARRIORS (1995), a Maori drama about alcoholism and family violence set in a New Zealand housing project.

As is our tradition, the Institute will also screen a silent film with live musical accompaniment-the influential 1921 German film by Fritz Lang, DESTINY [DER M√úDE TOD], a dark fairy tale about love and death.

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