TU Announces 2008-09 Presidential Lecture Series

Monday, September 15, 2008

The University of Tulsa 2008–09 Presidential Lecture Series will feature a bestselling author, theoretical physicist and beloved poet as part of its series, which are sponsored by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair.

The lecture series will kick off on Oct. 15 with a presentation by best-selling author Azar Nafisi, best known for her national bestseller, “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books.” Her story electrified readers with a compassionate and often harrowing portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students.

Physics expert Lisa Randall, author of "Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions," will speak on Feb. 24, and the series will conclude on April 2 with a presentation by former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.

Each lecture begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Great Hall at the Allen Chapman Activity Center on TU’s campus. The events are free and open to the public.

The lecture series is presented by the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair, which was established to honor the memory of the late TU professor. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, scholar and critic, O’Brien was a member of the TU English faculty from 1978 until 1996. O’Brien died in 1998 at the age of 58, and the Darcy O’Brien Endowed Chair was established in 2001.

Nafisi’s national bestseller, "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," has been hailed as the best introduction to modern Iran and spent more than 100 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Her work has celebrated the democratizing force of literature, and her love of Western literature and culture caused her to be expelled from the University of Tehran for refusing to wear the mandatory Islamic veil. Before leaving for America in 1997, Nafisi previously had taught literature at the University of Tehran, the Free Islamic University, and Allameh Tabatabai. She is now a visiting professor and the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., where she teaches aesthetics, culture, and literature.

Leading physicist Lisa Randall has quickly come to prominence as an expert on particle physics, string theory and cosmology. She is most recognized for her investigation of the possibilities for particle physics and cosmology when there are more than three dimensions. Randall was the first female theoretical physicist to earn tenure at Harvard, where she is currently a professor. She was also the first tenured woman in the Princeton physics department, as well as the first tenured female theoretical physicist at MIT. Her remarkable bestseller, “Warped Passages: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Universe’s Hidden Dimensions,” takes readers into the incredible world of hidden dimensions that underpin the universe we live in while she demystifies the science.

Billy Collins is arguably the most popular poet in America and served two terms as the U.S. poet laureate from 2001-2003. This modern day Robert Frost uses plain language to augment ordinary subjects and everyday life to literary significance. Humor and wit are the impetus Collins uses to lead readers into a more serious place, a kind of journey from the familiar to the unexpected, sometimes tender, and often profound. Collins’ widely read work is accessible, and his readings are usually standing room only. His last three collections of poems have broken sales records for poetry.

The lecture is free and open to the public.

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David Hamby