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October 1, 2001

Lodge to deliver 2001 Ellmann Lectures

By Deb Hammacher


British author David Lodge will share his satirical wit and academic acumen in the Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature at Emory Oct. 7–9. Lodge’s three-lecture series will be followed Oct. 10 by a reading from his newest novel, Thinks…, a comic look at the field of cognitive science. Following five years of research in cognitive psychology for the book, the theme of Lodge’s Ellmann Lectures is “Consciousness and the Novel.”

Lodge, retired from a 27-year career as professor of modern English literature at the University of Birmingham, also is a best-selling author of social comedies, including Changing Places (1975), Small World (1984), Nice Work (1988), Paradise News (1991), and Therapy (1999). He is best known for handling religious and academic dissatisfaction, and often deals with the conflict between sexual desires and spiritual boundaries. Lodge’s Catholicism is a common thread through most of his fiction, and he described himself in an interview with The Guardian newspaper in London as “an agnostic Catholic hanging on by my fingernails.”

Thinks… is the tale of the hapless heroine Helen Reed and “a charismatic, sexually swashbuckling cognitive scientist aptly named Messenger,” according to Joyce Carol Oates in the [London] Times Literary Supplement. She describes Reed as “a novelist so steeped in tradition that in times of crises she appeals to Henry James and Andrew Marvell.” Reed is overwhelmed by questions raised by cognitive science, including how are mind and body connected, if they are connected; what is the soul; and most importantly, are we simply brains with parts “lighting up like a pinball machine, as different emotions and sensations are triggered?”

Lodge was suggested by a three-person panel of scholars. According to Ronald Schuchard, Goodrich C. White Professor of English and director of the series, 1999 lecturer A.S. Byatt had such a good experience that she offered to invite Lodge personally.

The lecture schedule is as follows:

• “Consciousness and the Two Cultures,” 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 7. WHSCAB auditorium, followed by reception.

• “First Person and Third Person,” 8:15 p.m. Monday, Oct. 8. Business school auditorium.

• “Surface and Depth,” 8:15 p.m Tuesday, Oct. 9 Business school auditorium.

• Reading and booksigning, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10 Glenn Auditorium. Those who want books signed but cannot attend the reading, books may be purchased in advance at the Druid Hills Bookstore in Emory Village and picked up later.

• An exhibition of materials related to the Ellmann Lectures will be on display in the Schatten Gallery of the Woodruff Library.


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