Victor Bailey, director of Kansas University's Hall Center for the Humanities, says this year's Hall Lecture Series will bring an impressive group of writers, filmmakers and educators to the KU campus, including author Alice Walker and filmmakers Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman.
"It's a great privilege to be able to bring someone of real distinction to come and address difficult issues and questions," he said. " I would like everyone in the area to be able to sit and listen and learn from these guests. The issues the lecturers address are important to the university as well as our community as a whole."
Bailey said the lecture series has become bigger and better with each passing year because of increased endowments it has received.
Lecturers are selected and requested primarily based on their connections to the Hall Lecture Series committee members. Speakers are determined by their ability to communicate with an audience and personal accomplishments in the humanities.
KU professors are given an "open call invitation," allowing them to submit a letter and nomination to the committee. The committee then can select KU faculty to participate in the series. Bailey said the committee typically selects one internal lecturer.
"We always honor someone from KU who has made a substantial contribution to the department," he said.
This year's lineup is:
Oct. 4: Edward Said, distinguished chair of comparative literature at Columbia University, gives the lecture "Humanism in America." Said is a scholar of modern literature and theory and an expert on international and Middle Eastern politics. He is the author of "Orientalism," "Culture and Imperialism" and "Reflections on Exile".
Nov. 15: Joane Nagel, distinguished chair of sociology at KU, will speak on "The Color of Sex: Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality in America." Nagel is the author of "American Indian Ethnic Renewal: Red Power Resurgence of Identity and Culture."
Jan. 21: Alice Walker, a poet, novelist, essayist and biographer, will give the lecture "Readings and Questions." Her novel, "The Color Purple," won the Pulitzer Prize and the American Book Award for fiction.
Feb. 21: Filmmakers Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffman will talk about their documentary film, "Long Night's Journey into Day." The film is a searing account of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The film was nominated for best documentary at this year's Academy Awards.
April 25: Dava Sobel will speak on "Galileo's Reconciliation: Science and Faith." Sobel is the author of "Longitude" and "Galileo's Daughter."
Additional Hall Center events include:
Sept. 12: "Victoria's Values: Marking the Centenary of Queen Victoria's Death," lecture by Victor Bailey, 7:30 p.m., auditorium, Helen Foresman Spencer Museum of Art.
Oct. 16: "War, Morality, and Deception: An Auschwitz," lecture by Rudolf Vrba, professor emeritus at the University of British Columbia, 8 p.m., auditorium, Spencer Museum of Art. Vrba was a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camp for two years and wrote "Thed Vrba-Wezler Auschwitz Report," the earliest descriptive account of the mass murders in gas chambers in Auschwitz.