Release date: Oct. 6, 2006
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Salman Rushdie to Teach and Place His Archive at Emory University

Salman Rushdie (left) shows President James Wagner some of his manuscripts that are placed at Emory's Woodruff Library.
Salman Rushdie, one of the world's most celebrated contemporary authors, will join the faculty of Emory University as Distinguished Writer in Residence and place his archive at Emory's Woodruff Library.

"Salman Rushdie is not only one of the foremost writers of our generation, he is also a courageous champion of human rights and freedom," says Emory President James Wagner.

Rushdie is a master of world literature, spanning India, Europe and North and South America. His pioneering style has been compared to Jorge Louis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Vladimir Nabokov. His novel, "Midnight's Children" (1980), won Britain's most prestigious literary award, the Booker Prize, and was selected in 1993 as the best novel in 25 years of the Booker Prize. Subsequent novels, including "The Satanic Verses" (1988), "The Ground Beneath Her Feet" (1999) and most recently, "Shalimar the Clown" (2005), involve a panoramic scope weaving mythology, pop culture, politics and religions from around the world to epic effect.

Rushdie is also one of the most important voices of our time for human rights. Though for nearly 10 years, following publication of "The Satanic Verses," he was the subject of terrorist threats from Islamicists who found the novel blasphemous, Rushdie continued to champion oppressed artists and peoples around the world. "How we fight it is going to be the great civilizational test of our time," Rushdie has said about terrorism. Principles of human rights and religious and artistic freedom, he has emphasized, are crucial in this world struggle.

"The teaching appointment of Salman Rushdie, and the significance of his archive, underscore the importance of the humanities in addressing the global issues of our day," says Emory Provost Earl Lewis. Emory recently designated creativity and the arts as one of its signature initiatives for the future, recognizing the critical role of the arts in sustaining free societies and in confronting oppression.

The relationship between politics and religion are key themes in Rushdie's work, which will have a prominent platform at Emory. Rushdie has pointed to Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., as well as his own devout Muslim grandfather, as exemplifying civic ideals of freedom and tolerance. A new strategic initiative in religions and the human spirit at Emory will convene scholars, religious and civic leaders, and officials from non-governmental organizations from around the world to benchmark and teach peace-building practices.

"Mr. Rushdie brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to help us understand the fault-lines between cultures that threaten to rupture societies around the world today," says Robert Paul, Dean of Emory College.

This is Rushdie's first extended relationship with a university. His position as Distinguished Writer in Residence is a five-year appointment in the English Department, beginning in the spring of 2007. During each of these five years he will be teaching for at least four weeks, lead a graduate seminar, participate in undergraduate classes, advise students, engage in symposia and deliver a public lecture.

Rushdie began his relationship with Emory in 2004 when he delivered the Ellmann Lectures, named for the eminent literary scholar Richard Ellmann. Though not yet 20 years old, the biennial Ellmann lectures have become one of the most distinguished literary lecture series in North America. Seamus Heaney, Mario Vargas Llosa, A.S. Byatt and David Lodge are a few of Rushdie's fellow alumni in the Ellmann series.

In placing his papers at Emory, Rushdie is joining an elite group of modern masters. "Emory has become one of the major literary archives in North America," says Dana Gioia, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts. Among Emory's research collections are the personal and literary papers of such modern literary giants as the late British poet laureate Ted Hughes and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney.

"The Rushdie papers will provide the primary resource for future generations seeking to understand an artist at the center of our era," says Stephen Enniss, director of Emory's Manuscript, Archives and Rare Books Library. Included in the archive are Rushdie's private journals detailing life under the fatwa, as well as personal correspondence, notebooks, photographs and manuscripts of all of his writings, including two early unpublished novels.


Emory University is known for its demanding academics, outstanding undergraduate college of arts and sciences, highly ranked professional schools and state-of-the-art research facilities. For nearly two decades Emory has been named one of the country's top 25 national universities by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to its nine schools, the university encompasses The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center and Emory Healthcare, the state's largest and most comprehensive health care system.

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