MacArthur 'Geniuses' Tell All at Fall Lecture Series

Every year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation honors what it considers the cream of the crop, giving out what are known as "genius grants"—unrestricted fellowships with a stipend of about $500,000 over five years to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits. The selection process is held in secret and winners have no idea they are being considered until the foundation contacts them with the good news.

Alumni and friends will watch some of these incredible minds in action during the UW Fall Lecture Series, presented by the University of Washington Alumni Association and College of Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Simpson Center for the Humanities. The University Book Store and Millstone Coffee are the series sponsors.

Creative Writing Director Linda Bierds. Photo by Mary Levin.

Creative Writing Director Linda Bierds. Photo by Mary Levin.
"The Scholarly Adventure and the Creative Process: Fall Nights with the MacArthurs" will be held at 7 p.m. on five Wednesdays beginning Oct. 16. The lectures feature five UW faculty members who have been awarded MacArthur genius grants: English Professor Linda Bierds, English Professor Charles Johnson, English Professor Richard Kenney, History Professor Suzanne Lebsock and History Professor John Toews.

The first lecture on Oct. 16 features Bierds, the director of the UW's Creative Writing Program. A poet known for her attention to detail and her narratives of lyrical description, she received a PEN/West prize for poetry for her most recent work, The Profile Makers.

On Oct. 23, the speaker is Lebsock, a scholar whose research focuses on the convergence of legal, economic and social history. Her first book, Free Women of Petersburg, won the prestigious Bancroft Prize for history writing. For her next book, she is working on a real-life 1890s murder mystery in rural Virginia that involves issues of race, gender and the role of the state.

On Oct. 30, the speaker is Kenney, a poet known for work that is distinctive in its technique, intricate language, syntax, skillful use of rhyme, and concern with scientific metaphors and themes. The author of such books as The Invention of the Zero and The Evolution of the Flightless Bird, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1984 and the Rome Prize in Literature in 1986.

Charles Johnson. Photo by Mary Levin.

English Professor Charles Johnson. Photo by Mary Levin.
On Nov. 6, the speaker is Johnson, a novelist, short story writer, essayist, cartoonist and screenwriter. The author of many fiction and nonfiction works, he won a National Book Award for Middle Passage, published in 1990.

On Nov. 13, the speaker is Toews, who specializes on the history of modern Europe. He has written on contemporary historical theory, the history of psychoanalysis and historicism in music, law and literature.

The Fall Lecture Series will be held at 7 p.m. Oct. 16, 23, 30, Nov. 6 and 13 in 220 Kane. Series tickets cost $35 for UWAA members or A&S Dean's Club members, $45 general and $15 students. Single tickets may be purchased on a space-available basis.

For reservations, call the UWAA at (206) 543-3839. For more information on the series or to join the UWAA, contact the alumni association office at (206) 543-0540 or 1-800-AUW-ALUM.

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