Nobel Laureate to Visit UMass Amherst for 2014 Troy Lecture
Thursday, October 16, 2014
Thursday, October 16, 2014
On October 30 at 4:30 pm in Bowker Auditorium, novelist, memoirist, screenwriter, academic and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature Orhan Pamuk will visit the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the 2014 Troy Lecture. Titled “A Conversation with Orhan Pamuk,” the talk will deviate from the traditional lecture format. Instead, Jeanne Dubino, UMass Amherst alumna and Professor of English and Global Studies at Appalachian State University, will interview Pamuk. Her questions will invite remarks ranging from the themes and issues taken up in his novels to his opinions about the current state of affairs in Turkey and the Middle East in view of the rise of ISIS.
Pamuk carries on the legacy of esteemed literary speakers to visit UMass Amherst for the Troy Lecture. Past lecturers have included multiple Nobel laureates and other important contemporary literary figures, among them Nadine Gordimer, Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler, J.M. Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, and Wole Soyinka.
“These are the writers we teach in our classes,” says Prof. Jenny Spencer, Chair of the English Department. Spencer recalls when Nadine Gordimer spoke at the Troy in 1991, just one week after she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. “Given how distinguished our invited authors are, the Troy is a lecture series that our faculty rarely miss.” She went on to note that Pamuk is the first author from a predominantly Muslim country to win the Nobel: “given the current issues facing us in the Middle East, his visit is especially relevant.”
Pamuk began writing earnestly in 1974 and almost immediately gained recognition for his work. His first novel Darkness and Light was co-winner of the Milliyet Press Novel Contest (this novel was later published with the title Mr. Cevdet and His Sons in 1982 and won the Orham Kemal Novel Prize in 1983). His international reputation grew in the 1990s and was cemented with the release of the novel My Name is Red in 2000. The novel, like much of Pamuk’s work, urgently examines the tension between Eastern and Western values in the Middle East.
Although he has stated that he keeps his radical thoughts to his novels, Pamuk has been outspoken in his defense of human rights and freedom of expression. In an article published in 2013, the New Republic said of Pamuk, “the previous decade of intense worldwide violence made the Nobel laureate seem like an anodyne mascot for better relations between Islam and the secular West—a fundamentally Westernized and nominally Muslim writer who could serve as a literary pontoon over the Bosphorus.” This dual perspective should prove particularly valuable today, and the Middle East teeters between East and West, secularism and extremism, democracy and fascism.
The Troy Lecture is free and open to the public.