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Alumni Invited to April 8 College Lecture Day Featuring Renowned Novelist E.L. Doctorow (Read the Cover Story in the Valley Advocate) (Visit the College's Doctorow Colloquium Blog)

Posted March 13, 2008

doctorow2.gif The New York Times calls E.L. Doctorow “an astonishing novelist.” He is “a national treasure,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The award-winning author of nine novels will be the keynote speaker at the College’s Lecture Day on Tuesday, April 8, and alumni are invited to attend this extraordinary event.

“We are fortunate to have one of the premier living literary figures in the United States coming to our campus,” says Brad Sullivan, an associate professor of English at the College. Pearl Abraham, an assistant professor of creative writing, says Doctorow’s greatness stems from his ability to make readers feel as if they are actually experiencing the situations he describes in his writing. “His diction is very beautiful and very authentic,” says Abraham, who was interviewed for a cover story on Doctorow's visit in the Valley Advocate. “He manages to write from the point of view of women, men, soldiers—all different kinds of characters—in his works. He shapes the scene so perfectly.”

Doctorow, who currently holds an endowed chair at New York University, will present a talk entitled “Religion and Literature: Texts that are Sacred and Texts that are Not.” After his 6:00 p.m. talk at Rivers Memorial Hall, Abraham will interview him on stage on issues of craft. The event is free and open to the public.

Abraham, who was instrumental in bringing Doctorow to campus, had the pleasure of being his student while earning her masters degree in creative writing at New York University. She calls him as “a terrific friend and advisor; he really cares about writers, especially young writers.”

During his visit to campus, the College will award Doctorow a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition to his contributions to the American Literary heritage.

Doctorow’s books include Ragtime (1975), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Arts and Letters Award; World’s Fair (1985), the 1986 National Book Award winner; Billy Bathgate (1989); a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award; The March (2005), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and Creationists: Selected Essays 1993-2006 (2006), his most recent work. Three of his books have been made into major motion pictures.

Doctorow is “a brilliant writer,” says Michael Meerpool, Western New England College’s chair and professor of economics, “I encourage every alum in the area to take advantage of this chance to meet him. He is one of the top novelists in our country.”

Sullivan, chair of the Lecture Day Committee, agrees. “E.L. Doctorow’s writings have provided distinctive views of history, religion, and society, and we’ll have the opportunity to ‘listen in’ on his thinking,” he says. “We hope that alumni in the Northeast will make every effort to be here. A large and enthusiastic crowd will show that we support literary, artistic, and humanities-centered events of this magnitude at Western New England College—and will help us continue to do so, year after year.”

For more information, contact Sullivan at or at 413-796-2272.

Colloquium: E.L. Doctorow in Literature, History, and Film
In preparation for Doctorow’s talk, a one-credit colloquium entitled E.L Doctorow in Literature, Film, and History, has been meeting on Thursdays from 1:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. in Sleith 100. Those who would like to sit in on the sessions (non-credit) are welcome to attend. Read the Doctorow Colloquium blog.

February 28: Associate Professor of History John Baick will deliver a lecture entitled “Billy Bathgate as History.”

March 6: Economics Chair Michael Meerpool will present a lecture entitled “The Old Left and the New Left” based on The Book of Daniel.

March 13: Screening of selections from The Book of Daniel

March 27: Kelly Klingensmith, professor of English and Film Studies, will lead discussion of The Book of Daniel.

April 3: Philosophy Professor Burton Porter will speak on “Religion in Literature.”

D’Amour Library Reading Group
On Friday, March 7 at 12:30 p.m., the D’Amour Library Reading Group will meet in the library’s MassMutual Room to discuss Doctorow’s Ragtime. Those interested should bring a lunch.


Western New England University is a private, independent, coeducational institution founded in 1919. Located on an attractive 215-acre suburban campus in Springfield, Massachusetts, Western New England University serves 3,955 students, including 2,575 full-time undergraduate students. Undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs are offered through Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering, and Pharmacy, and School of Law.


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