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Loyola to host series of webinars on Flannery O’Connor and race

Hilton Als, a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist and author; Alice McDermott, novelist, writer, and former Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University; Brad Gooch, poet, novelist, and biographer
From left to right: Hilton Als (Photo credit: Ali Smith), Alice McDermott, and Brad Gooch

Loyola University Maryland will host a series of virtual conversations, “Public Writing/Private Perceptions: The Vexed Issues Surrounding Flannery O’Connor and Race,” this spring.

The 30-minute online moderated conversations will be held via Zoom and feature scholars who will delve into Flannery O’Connor’s legacy as a writer. They will consider how scholars will continue to study and teach her work; what legacy O'Connor leaves behind; what we can learn from her work; and what lessons students can learn through this sort of thoughtful discourse.

“In this moment, as we engage at Loyola and around the nation in conversations about racial justice and racism, we want to engage in deep, rich, thoughtful conversation about Flannery O'Connor's writings,” said Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president. “When we renamed Flannery O’Connor Hall for Sister Thea Bowman this summer, we recognized that—although we didn’t want O’Connor’s name on a home for students, there was still value in scholarly consideration of her writings. We hope this series offers an opportunity to engage in intellectual inquiry on a fascinating topic.”

The virtual conversations are all free and open to the public, but registration is required. 

The University will also provide a viewing of Flannery, a documentary of the life and work of Flannery O’Connor by Elizabeth Coffman and Rev. Mark Bosco, S.J. Flannery will be available to view from March 15-18. Although the film is free to view, pre-ordering is required.

The conversations in “Public Writing/Private Perceptions: The Vexed Issues Surrounding Flannery O’Connor and Race” will include:

A Conversation with Hilton Als
March 10, 12:30-1 p.m. 

Frederick Bauerschmidt, Ph.D., professor of theology at Loyola, will lead a moderated conversation with Hilton Als, a Pulitzer Prize-winning essayist and author who has written about Flannery O’Connor and race and religion. A contributor and lead theater critic to the New Yorker, Als is working on a book, I Don’t Remember, which will shine a light on experiences in AIDS-era New York. Before becoming a contributor to the New Yorker, Als was a staff writer for The Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. His first book, The Women, was published in 1996. Als is also an associate professor of writing at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College. 

A Conversation with Alice McDermott
COMloquium with the Karson Institute for Race, Peace & Social Justice
March 24, 12:30-1 p.m.

Karsonya Wise Whitehead, Ph.D., associate professor of communication and African and African American Studies at Loyola, will moderate a conversation with Alice McDermott, novelist, writer, and former Richard A. Macksey Professor of the Humanities at Johns Hopkins University. McDermott has spoken and written about O’Connor’s influence on her own writing. McDermott’s eighth novel, The Ninth Hour, was a finalist for the 2017 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2017 Kirkus Prize for Fiction. In 2018, The Ninth Hour was awarded France’s Prix Femina for a work in translation. Her seventh novel, Someone, was a New York Times bestseller, a finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Patterson Prize for Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her essay collection, What About the Baby? Some Thoughts on the Art of Fiction, will be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in August.

A Conversation with Brad Gooch
April 7, 12:30-1 p.m. 

Rev. Brian Linnane, S.J., president of Loyola, will moderate the final conversation in the series featuring Brad Gooch, poet, novelist, and biographer. Gooch’s most recent books include Rumi's Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love and Rumi: Unseen Poems (edited and translation by Brad Gooch and Maryam Mortaz, Everyman's Library, 2019). A prolific author, he wrote Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor, which was a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and a New York Times bestseller. His work has been featured in numerous magazines including The New Republic, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, New York Magazine, Travel and Leisure. Gooch, who lives in New York City, is also a professor of English at William Paterson University.