Susan Sontag to Speak April 12
Susan Sontag, distinguished novelist, essayist, and critic will read
from works in progress and her novel In America, winner of the 2000
National Book Award, Thursday, April 12, at 7:30 pm in the Art Building's
Gamble Auditorium. A discussion and book signing will follow the talk,
which is being sponsored by the Weissman Center for Leadership and
the Office of the President. This event is part of the Mary Lyon Lecture
Series. While on campus, Sontag will conduct a seminar for students
and discuss her recent work with faculty members who are participating
in the seminar Writing Beyond the Academy. Both events are sponsored
by the Weissman Center for Leadership as part of its ongoing program
to support collegewide engagement with leaders in the arts and public
life. For more information, call x3066 or visit www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/programs/wcl.
About Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag's influence has been felt in many arenas of American
culture and throughout the world A prolific writer, she has written
essays on such diverse subjects as aesthetics, photography, illness,
and human rights. She has published novels, short stories, and plays
and has written and directed films. She even had a great impact on
experimental art in the 1960s and 1970s.
Beginning in the 1960s, Sontag became a contributor to various periodicals,
including the Partisan Review, New York Review of Books, Atlantic
Monthly, Nation, and Harper's, and was an active part of the
New York bohemian scene. She started her career as a novelist at the
age of thirty with The Benefactor, a symbolic work about a wealthy
man who attempts to make his daily life conform to his bizarre dreams.
In 1968, a selection of her writings appeared in Against Interpretation
and Other Essays, where she stated that the understanding of art starts
from intuitive response and not from analysis or intellectual considerations,
an argument she would repeat and expound upon in many other writings.
Sontag's other influential works include Styles of Radical Will
(1969), which continued her explorations of contemporary culture and
such phenomena as drugs, pornography, cinema, modern art, and music;
On Photography (1976), a study of the force of photographic images;
and Illness As Metaphor (1978), which was written after her cancer
treatment. Sontag returned to the relation between illness and representation
in AIDS and Its Metaphors (1988).
Her second novel, Death Kit (1967), a meditation on life, death,
and the relationship between the two, was followed by a third, The
Volcano Lover (1992), which became a best-seller. Sontag's novel
In America (1999) centers around a Polish diva named Maryna Zalezowska.
The year is 1876, and the actress has decided to abandon the stage
and establish a utopian commune in California. The utopia fails, and
the actress returns to the theaterbut as an American who has
embraced the culture of her adopted land.
In 1993, Sontag traveled to Sarajevo, the former capital of Yogoslavia,
and staged Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot. She returned
many times to the war-torn city. She has received numerous awards,
including the National Book Critics Circle Award (1977) and the Academy
of Sciences and Literature Award (Germany, 1979). In 1990, she received
a five-year fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation. Recently, Sontag
became the second woman (the first was Simone de Beauvoir) to receive
the coveted Jerusalem Award. The award honors writers whose work explores
the freedom of the individual in society.
Karen Remmler and Chris Benfey, codirectors of the Weissman Center for Leadership, look forward to hosting Sontag April 12 and 13. "The Weissman Center for Leadership is dedicated to giving students opportunities to learn firsthand about how intellectual leadership can transform society and shape culture," they say. "Susan Sontag is one of those rare individuals who exemplifies the life of the mind and its connection to compassionate engagement with the world."