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Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Message from the English Department re Charles Murray's Upcoming Visit

Dear English Majors,

In response to next week’s visit by controversial social scientist Charles Murray, the English Department invites you to attend a series of literary events that are designed to encourage robust reflection on racial and gender injustice and their human costs.

The first event is a series of free screenings of the 2016 Hollywood film Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis as Troy and Rose Maxson, a working-class couple living in Pittsburgh in the 1950s. The film is an adaptation of a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson, a brilliant playwright whose work illuminates the unique political, social, and economic challenges faced by African American men and women in the twentieth century. The screenings will take place at 3:30 p.m. Monday, March 27th, and at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28th, and Wednesday, March 29th, in the Connelly Cinema.

The second event, which is part of our annual Literary Festival, is a reading by Reginald Dwayne Betts, whose award-winning memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (2009), chronicles his years in prison, reflects back on his crime, and looks ahead to how the books he discovered while incarcerated would come to define him. Betts is also a poet, and his latest book,  Bastards of the Reagan Era (2015), was described in Publisher’s Weekly as “a devastatingly beautiful collection that calls out to young black men lost to the pitfalls of urban America.”  This event will take place on the evening of Thursday, March 30th, at 7:00 p.m. in the Speaker’s Corner of Falvey Library.

Because we believe in the transformative power of literature, we see these two events as an ideal opportunity for everyone in our community to stand together in support of diversity and inclusion. Writers such as Wilson and Betts challenge preconceptions, inspire compassion and understanding, and demand that we reckon directly with injustice and oppression.