The Troy Lectures on the Humanities and Public Life are presented in honor of the late Frederick S. (Barney) Troy, Emeritus Professor of English, honorary professor of the University and former trustee.
The list of past speakers is singularly distinguished, and includes Nadine Gordimer, Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler, J.M. Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka and Zadie Smith.
Most years feature one lecture; in 2017 the department sponsored two.
Natasha Trethewey (MFA '95) is two-time U.S. Poet Laureate a won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2006 collection of poetry, Native Guard. Domestic Work (2000), Trethewey's first published collection, won the inaugural Cave Canem prize for a first book by an African American poet. She holds honorary doctorates from her undergraduate alma mater, Delta State University, and from Hollins University.
Anna Deavere Smith is a playwright, actor, and professor. The MacArthur Foundation honored Smith with a so-called “genius grant” for creating “a new form of theater — a blend of theatrical art, social commentary, journalism, and intimate reverie.” On March 27, 2017, she performed her work Doing Time in Education: School-to-Prison Pipeline, which explores the cycle of suspension from school to incarceration prevalent in low-income communities and highlights issues of community, character, and diversity in America.
Viet Thanh Nguyen is an acclaimed author, 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner, 2017 Guggenheim Fellow, and 2017 MacArthur Fellow. His novel The Sympathizer (2015) won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, while Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (2016) was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction. Nguyen is also the author of Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America (2012) and The Refugees (2017). On November 15, 2017, Viet Thanh Nguyen delivered a talk titled “War, Fiction, and the Ethics of Memory.”