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They are on the slate for spring Lives of Liberty lecture series

As part of the College’s celebration of the 250th anniversary of the Marquis de Lafayette’s birthday, journalist and feminist activist Gloria Steinem will speak March 4 and award-winning novelist Salman Rushdie will speak April 3.

Steinem and Rushdie are part of the spring lineup of the Lives of Liberty lecture series. The spring series will feature accomplished individuals whose lives embody the ideals of Lafayette in the world today. One other speaker will be added to the spring slate.

The fall series includes distinguished scholars whose work deals with the Marquis’ life or the times in which he lived. Fall speakers include David McCullough, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for his biographies of Harry S. Truman and John Adams; Ron Chernow, recipient of the inaugural George Washington Book Prize for his 2004 biography of Alexander Hamilton; and Simon Schama, an art critic, historian, and award-winning author.

The College is planning a yearlong celebration during 2007-08 in recognition of the life and legacy of the Marquis. In addition to the Lives of Liberty, major events include a historical exhibit at the Williams Center for the Arts, entitled A Son and his Adoptive Father: The Marquis de Lafayette and George Washington, and a birthday party on Sept. 6.

  • A web site dedicated to the celebration and to the Marquis’ unique connection to the College provides information and updates.

Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, editor, and feminist activist.

In 1972, she co-founded Ms. Magazine, where she remained one of its editors for fifteen years and continues to serve as a consulting editor. In 1968, she helped found New York magazine and served as a political columnist and wrote feature articles.

She helped found the Women’s Action Alliance, a pioneering national information center that specialized in nonsexist, multiracial children’s education, and the National Women’s Political Caucus, a group that continues to work to advance the numbers of pro-equality women in elected and appointed office at a national and state level.

For her writing, Steinem has received the Front Page and Clarion awards, National Magazine awards, an Emmy Citation for excellence in television writing, the Lifetime Achievement in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Society of Writers Award from the United Nations.

She also received the Bill of Rights Award from the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the National Gay Rights Advocates Award, the Ceres Medal from the United Nations, and a number of honorary degrees. In 1995, Parenting magazine selected her for its Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in promoting girls’ self-esteem, and Biography magazine listed her as one of the 25 most influential women in America. In 1993, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York.

Her books include the bestsellers Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions (1983), Marilyn: Norma Jean, on the life of Marilyn Monroe (1986), Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem (1992), and Moving Beyond Words (1994).

Sir Salman Rushdie is an award-winning and controversial novelist and essayist. In June 2007, he was appointed Knight Bachelor for “services to literature” by Queen Elizabeth II.

Rushdie’s first novel, Grimus, was published in 1975, but he first achieved fame with his second novel, Midnight’s Children (1981). It won the Booker Prize for Fiction, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), an Arts Council Writers’ Award, and the English-Speaking Union Award. In 1993, it was judged to have been the ‘Booker of Bookers,’ the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award’s 25-year history.

It was Rushdie’s fourth novel, The Satanic Verses (1988), which catapulted him into the international spotlight as the center of controversy. The book, winner of the Whitbread Novel Award in 1988, brought about accusations of blasphemy against Islam and demonstrations by Islamist groups in India and Pakistan.

The orthodox Iranian leadership issued a fatwa against Rushdie in 1989 – effectively a sentence of death – and he was forced into hiding under the protection of the British government and police. The publication of the book and the fatwa sparked violence around the world, with bookstores being firebombed and public rallies in which copies of the book were burned. Also, several people associated with translating or publishing the book were attacked, seriously injured, and even killed. It is only within the last decade that Rushdie has been able to resume his normal literary life.

Rushdie has publish numerous other books including, Shame (1983), which won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger; The Jaguar Smile (1987); Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), which won the Writers’ Guild Award (Best Children’s Book); Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 (1991); East, West (1994); The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995); The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999); Fury (2001); Step Across This Line: Collected Non-fiction 1992-2002 (2002); and Shalimar The Clown (2005). He is also co-author (with Tim Supple and Simon Reade) of the stage adaptation of Midnight’s Children, premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2002.

Rushdie received the British Book Awards Author of the Year honor in 1996. He was awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 1993 and the Aristeion Literary Prize in 1996, and has received eight honorary doctorates. He was elected to the Board of American PEN in 2002.

Born in Bombay, India, Rushdie received a history degree from King’s College, Cambridge. He currently serves as the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Emory University and was previously the Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Distinguished Fellow in Literature at the University of East Anglia.

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