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Assistant professor of English will also publish book of essays

Alix Ohlin, assistant professor of English, will deliver a series of lectures at Rice University entitled, “On the Tempest of Nature and Art,” Oct. 23, 24, and 25.

The Campbell Lectures are an annual series held at Rice that present original ideas on topics of interest in literature. The lecture series was established by a $1 million contribution from Rice alumnus T.C. Campbell ’34. Other lecturers in this annual series include former U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky and National Book Award winner Ha Jin.

Following the lectures, Ohlin will expand the talks into a book-length collection of essays. It will be published by the University of Chicago Press. A date is not set yet for the release of the book.

Ohlin will deliver three talks. Each of the lectures will examine the relationship between nature and art during a time of confusion and flux. The Tempest by William Shakespeare will serve as a structuring element for the talks.

The first lecture, “Prospero’s Island,” will look at artists whose work helps people to re-imagine their relationship to the natural world. Ohlin will consider in particular the artists Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell, and the Center for Land Use Interpretation.

In the second lecture, “Hearing from Caliban,” Ohlin will discuss crises in the natural world and art’s role within disaster.

The third lecture, “Ariel and Audubon,” will examine birds as metaphor, as barometers of human relationship to nature, and as the subjects of art.

“I’ve been thinking and writing about the visual arts for some time,” says Ohlin. “When the opportunity to give the Campbell Lectures came up, I immediately wanted to explore the way that art interacts with the natural world, given the moment of environmental crisis in which we are living.”

English and psychology major Jenny Boyar ’08 (Hillsborough, N.J.) has been assisting Ohlin in putting together the lectures as a part of the EXCEL program.

Before coming to Lafayette, Ohlin was writer-in-residence at Portsmouth Abbey School and instructor at Inkberry Center for Writing in the Berkshires since 2002. Her fiction has appeared in the One Story series and Shenandoah, among other periodicals, and in Best New American Voices 2004. She has received awards and fellowships from The Atlantic Monthly, the MacDowell Colony, and The Kenyon Review’s Writers Workshop.

Her novels, The Missing Person and Babylon and Other Stories, received favorable reviews in media outlets such as The New York Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. She holds an M.F.A. from University of Texas at Austin’s Michener Center for Writers and a B.A. in English and American literature and language from Harvard University.

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