[CUA Office of Public Affairs]                                                                        


Oct. 23, 2001


Award-Winning Writers to Speak at Catholic University Literary Event

Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer R.W.B. Lewis will be the featured speaker at the fifth annual Lewis W. Britton Lecture and Reading, to be held Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m. in Caldwell Auditorium at the Catholic University of America.

Dave Smith, a four-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and co-editor of The Southern Review, also will read his poetry as part of the Britton event, a popular Catholic University tradition known for attracting literary stars. More than 150 people have attended in years past, said event organizer Ernest Suarez, associate professor of English..

The lecture and reading are free and open to the public and will be followed by a reception, where attendees can speak with the writers and purchase their books.

Lewis’ lecture, “Perspectives on Dante,” will be based on his newest book, “Dante: Penguin Lives”(Viking Press 2001), a biography of the legendary poet’s life and literature in the cultural and political milieu of 13th century Florence, just before the dawn of the Renaissance. The book recently was named a Book of the Month Club selection.

As a professor emeritus of English and American studies at Yale University, Lewis recently received the lifetime achievement award for biography from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His other books include “The City of Florence,” “The Jameses,” “American Characters” and “Edith Wharton,” a work that won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Bancroft Prize.

“The man himself is an institution in American letters,” Suarez said of Lewis. “He is the most prominent literary biographer America has ever had.”

Smith, the Boyd Professor of English at Louisiana State University, has lectured and read his poetry at Catholic University several times in the past.

“Dave Smith is a real friend to CUA. He is as much a part of the Britton Lecture and Reading as the English department,” Suarez said.

Smith most recently published a 30-year anthology of his work entitled, “The Wick of Memory: New and Selected Poems 1970-2000.” The work won the Distinguished Volume of Poetry award from the Dictionary of Literary Biography for 2000. Some of his other poetry volumes include: “Floating on Solitude: Three Books of Poems” and “Fate’s Kite: Poems 1990-1995.” He is the author of more than 25 books of poetry and criticism.

The Lewis W. Britton Lecture and Reading is named for a successful businessman who, in his mid-70s, decided to attend college for the first time. He received his bachelor’s degree from Catholic University in 1973 and continued on to earn a master’s degree in English in 1978.

Previous speakers have included Wayne Booth, John Hollander, Philip Levine, Yusef Komunyakaa, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Gerald Barrax, John Barth and Ross Spears. For more information, contact the Department of English at 202-319-5488.




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Revised: March 27, 2001

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The Catholic University of America,
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