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Saint Mary’s to host writers in lecture concerning different dynamics in writing

| Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Authors and married couple Elizabeth and Ned Stuckey-French will speak at Saint Mary’s on their work as well as their experiences of being married to and living with a spouse who is an author. The lecture will take place in Vander Vennet at 7 p.m.

English professor Dionne Bremyer said Elizabeth and Ned are both established writers in their own right: Elizabeth is a novelist and Ned is an essayist.

“Elizabeth’s most recent book is called ‘The Revenge of Radioactive Lady,’ but she’s also written a couple short story collections and a [young adult] novel,” she said. “Ned is an essayist who’s written about the form of writing essays, and also a couple personal essays.”

Bremyer said by hosting the two authors, students can learn more about the different dynamics of writing, as well as meet prolific members of contemporary society.

“We get to see the way two artists live and work together and think about what that dynamic is like, but we also get to think about the different paths we use to get to essay versus fiction, or think about what makes an essay versus what makes a short story and how we decide which is which,” she said. “As well, they’re just amazing prolific writers and teachers, so I thought they would be wonderful people to have on our campus. And they’re also from Indiana, so there’s a nice local connection there, too.”

Bremyer said hosting visiting writers is a great way for students to obtain guidance for their own writing careers as well.

“One thing that’s important for students to see is how the messy writing done in the classroom translates into a career,” she said. “It’s not always a straight line where the student graduates school and immediately becomes a writer. What does [being a writer] even mean, what does it look like, and how do we get from A to B? It’s important to see and talk about the process that artist’s have and for students to think about that as beginning artists and think about what they can learn from artists who have been practicing for a long time.”

Bremyer said inviting a visiting artist or writer to campus can be an intimate experience and is rewarding for all those involved.

“What other setting do you get that’s so intimate to talk with an artist one on one?” she said. “If you read an interview of them in a magazine, you might get some guidance from that but it’s nice to be able to ask questions and be in dialogue with the artist.”

Bremyer said that while writing and English majors have the most to gain from attending the presentation, all majors can and will benefit.

“Everyone should come,” she said. “It’s a chance to meet and interact with someone who is living and practicing in the world of art. Sometimes we look at writing or art as something that happens at a distance. We should think about what contemporary artists bring to the world and what it’s like to be living in this contemporary moment.”

Bremyer said visiting artists allow students to open themselves up to contemporary culture.

“Some of the value, too, for all majors is thinking about writing itself,” she said. “Students spend a lot of time in school where they’re assigned things and they have to read things, and they don’t necessarily think about the kind of citizens they’re going to be in the world after they get out into the world. Sometimes where I see students struggle after college is moving on without reading lists or some guidance in how to do things, and part of the process of being in college is learning about culture and learning about contemporary culture and how to interact with it. Even if a student plans on becoming a mathematician, there’s still value in thinking about contemporary art and contemporary culture and what is able to be gained from it.”

Bremyer said visiting writers expose us to art in a way that can fulfill our innermost human desires and help us navigate the complexity of the world.

“All good art speaks to what it means to be human,” she said. “Our essential desire is story, regardless of what we’re interested in. Constantly, we tell each other stories. If you think about conversations and interactions you have, it’s always storytelling. We’re always trying to get people to understand and empathize with our experience, or we’re trying to empathize with the experiences of others. We’re figuring out what it means to be human in this world — which is innately complicated and painful and sometimes joyous. It’s good to have art to filter that through. It helps us understand the experience of being human and couldn’t we all use a guide in that?”

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