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Friday, July 23 at 2:00 pm: One of the great American modernist writers, Willa Cather (1873-1947) portrays the experience of US immigrants in much of her fiction. Most famously, My Ántonia (1918) tells the story of the titular character and her family, who come from Europe to settle Nebraska in the late nineteenth century. Narrated by fellow newcomer Jim Burden, whose nostalgia for his childhood infuses his account, the novel is highly experimental in form, with a series of inset stories through which the reader comes to know Jim, Ántonia and their diverse community in Nebraska.

Lisbeth Strimple Fuisz is a lecturer in the English Department at Georgetown University, where she teaches twentieth-century US literature. She has published two articles on the works and life of Willa Cather, with a third one forthcoming that explores Cather’s narrative mappings of US settler colonial landscapes.

Friday, August 20 at 2 pm: Victoria Barnett-Woods will share her thoughts on Oroonoko, written by Aphra Behn (1640-1689), and published in 1688. The hero is an African prince who is tricked into slavery and sold to British colonists in Surinam where he meets the narrator and is reunited with his lost love, Imoinda. This short novel is sometimes described as one of the earliest English novels. It is also a work that asks us to reflect on matters of racial injustice both then and today.  Since June 19th is Juneteenth (also known as Freedom Day, Jubilee Day, Liberation Day, and Emancipation Day, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States), Victoria will likely tie that in with the lecture. She will be focusing on “freedom” as the jumping off point.

Vicki Barnett-Woods is a lecturer at Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore, where she teaches the literature of the long eighteenth century. She is currently working on a book project which explores the influence of the Caribbean on the “rise of the novel.”


During her long tenure at GWU, Tara Wallace has served as Associate Dean for Graduate Students, as the English Department’s Director of Graduate Students, and as Chair of the Committee on University Honours and the Faculty Senate’s Committee on Libraries. We are grateful to her for organizing this series.

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