Events Calendar

Wilson Library Exhibit: Imagining the Civil War, 1861-1900

On Friday, April 24th at 5:30pm, UNC undergraduates will open, introduce, and provide tours for the Wilson Library's new exhibit, "Imagining the Civil War, 1861-1900." The students have spent the semester studying Civil War literature with Professor Eliza Richards and Graduate Research Consultant Leslie McAbee.

The exhibit will run from April 24th to July 20th. For more information, visit the UNC Library blog.

Event Date: 

Fri, 04/25/2014 - 5:30am

Making Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Culture

Please join us for the Making Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Culture Graduate Student Conference on April 4-5th. Faculty keynotes include Drs. Pamela Smith (Columbia), Patricia Palmer (King's College London), and John Lavagnino (King's College London). Talks will be held in Hyde Hall and the Pleasants Family Room in Wilson Library. For a full schedule visit

Event Date: 

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 8:00am to Sat, 04/05/2014 - 7:00pm

The Critical Speakers Program: Pamela Smith

Professor Pamela Smith comes to us from Columbia University, where she researches and teaches courses in early modern European history and the history of science. She will give a presentation as part of the Critical Speakers Series:

Talk: "From Matter to Ideas: Making Natural Knowledge in Early Modern Europe"
  • Date: April 5, 2014
  • Time: 5:00 pm
  • Location: Peasants Family Room, Wilson Library
This event is co-sponsored by the Rare Book Collection at Wilson Library and by CoLEAGS. Smith will be appearing as keynote speaker at a joint University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill/King's College London conference, "Making Knowledge in Medieval and Early Modern Culture."

Event Date: 

Sat, 04/05/2014 - 5:00pm

The Critical Speakers Program: Riche' Richardson

Professor Riché Richardson comes to us from Cornell University, where she researches and teaches courses in African American literature, southern studies, and gender in the Africana Studies and Research Center. She will give two presentations as part of the Critical Speakers Series:

Talk: "Monumentalizing Mary McLeod Bethune and Rosa Parks in the Post-Civil Rights Era"

  • Date: April 3, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Kresge Foundation Common Room, Graham Memorial 039
Seminar: "Re-imagining the National Body and Black Femininity in the Transnational South"
  • Date: April 4, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall


Event Date: 

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 3:30am to Fri, 04/04/2014 - 3:30am

The Critical Speakers Program: Lisa Lowe [CANCELED]

Professor Lisa Lowe comes to us from Tufts University, where she researches and teaches courses in modern British and Asian diaspora literature; race and ethnic studies; decolonization and postcolonial thought; and transnational feminism. She will give two presentations as part of the Critical Speakers Series:
Talk: "The Social Life of Empire: Nineteenth-Century London, Boston, and Hong Kong"
  • Date: March 18, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Toy Lounge, Dey Hall
Seminar: "Liberalism and Empire"
  • Date: March 19, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall

Event Date: 

Tue, 03/18/2014 - 3:30am to Wed, 03/19/2014 - 5:00am

The Critical Speakers Program: Jonathan Kramnick

Professor Jonathan Kramnick comes to us from The Johns Hopkins University, where he researches and teaches courses in eighteenth-century literature and philosophy, philosophical approaches to literature, and cognitive science and the arts. He will give two presentations as part of the Critical Speakers Series:

Talk: "Presence of Mind"
  • Date: March 6, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Toy Lounge, Dey Hall
Seminar: "Literary Studies and Science"
  • Date: March 7, 2014
  • Time: 3:30 pm
  • Location: Donovan Lounge, Greenlaw Hall

To prepare for his presentations, please read "Literary Studies and Science: A Reply to My Critics" and  "Against Literary Darwinism" by Professor Kramnick, as well as "Another Literary Darwinism" by Angus Fletcher and "Science vs. The Humanities, Round III" by Steven Pinker and Leon Wieseltier. 

Event Date: 

Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:30am

The UNCommon: UNC's Interdisciplinary Conference for Nineteenth-Century Americanists

The UNCommon:
UNC’s Interdisciplinary Conference for Nineteenth-Century Americanists
Wednesday, March 12
Starts at 8:30 a.m. in Hyde Hall
Breaksfast, lunch, and dinner provided with RSVP:
For more information, visit our website:


The UNCommon is an interdisciplinary conference that aims to bring UNC’s 19th-century Americanists together to share research and avenues to professionalization. Faculty, graduate students, and alumni from the fields of English and Comparative Literature, Religious Studies, History, and Art History will forge connections, collaborate, and celebrate UNC’s work in the study of the nineteenth-century U.S. during this one-day conference on Wednesday, March 12, 2014.

An important part of the day’s events will be several panels on professionalization, during which UNC alumni from each of the participating departments will share their experience in making the transition from graduate school to a career. We also welcome representatives from King’s College London’s Nineteenth-Century Studies to provide a crucial transatlantic perspective to the “UNCommon” discussion. Students, graduate students, and faculty from several UNC departments and from King’s College London will also have the opportunity to present and discuss their current research throughout the day. To this end, we aim to incorporate a variety of perspectives on the study of nineteenth-century American culture and society.

Event Date: 

Tue, 03/11/2014 - 9:30pm

2014 Distinguished Writer-in-Residence: Stewart O'Nan

"American" is the best way to describe Stewart O'Nan's work.  The author of 14 novels, a collection of short stories, 2 works of non-fiction, and a handful of screenplays, O’Nan has returned, again and again, to certain aspects of American life.  He sees America with X-ray vision and an understanding heart. O’Nan’s prodigious body of work can be read as an investigation, story by story, into what it means to be an American. 

His short novel Last Night at the Lobster (2008) prefigured the economic meltdown of that same year and the effect it had on millions of Americans.  In less than 200 pages, dealing with the final night of a Red Lobster franchise, he illuminates the lives of the beleaguered manager, his girlfriend and lover, the struggling waitresses, the no-show cooks and customers, and O'Nan does it with humor, pathos and, ultimately, kindness.  As Ron Charles of the Washington Post says, “He seems incapable of writing a false line.”

Stewart O’Nan was born and raised in Pittsburgh, the ground zero for much of his fiction. Initially trained as an engineer ("My father was an engineer, his father was an engineer. It seemed the right thing to do and I was happy with it and it was a really good job, too"), he was already writing stories as an undergraduate at Boston University.  He worked for the Grumman Aerospace Corporation for four years, then went to the MFA program at Cornell, where he received his MFA in 1992.


O'Nan's collection of stories, In the Walled City (1993), won the Drue Heinz Literary Award for a first book, and his work has 

twice been cited as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Granta named him one of the 20 Best Young American Novelists in 1996, and Salon magazine has called him “our best working novelist.” Along the way he has given us: indelible portraits of soldiers in Vietnam; the garrulous rants of a spree-killing, love-sick speed queen on death row; tender accounts of middle-age love and marriage; circus conflagrations; prose tone-poems about what it's like to grow old alone.

Writing is O’Nan’s foremost passion, but his other is baseball—which makes sense, as it’s the most American of sports. In Faithful (2005), a New York Times bestseller, O’Nan chronicles the 1994 season of the Boston Red Sox with his friend and fellow baseball fanatic Stephen King.  O’Nan has equated writing with baseball, where, when you come up to bat, the chances are good you’re going to fail. “No one writes a great book every time out,” he says, “or even a good book (if Faulkner can’t do it, and Woolf, why should you be exempt?). You just try to be true to your characters and get them across to the reader. You just hope you’ll write a good one that people will take to heart.”

Stewart O'Nan is probably best compared to a certain type of great American songwriter—Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, John Prine, Bruce Springsteen.  Like them he continues to update the "Old, Weird America."  With humor and grace he shows us ourselves, the grit, the horror, the quotidian boredom, the loneliness, the beauty.

Pictures from top to bottom:
1. Stewart O'Nan dons a Carolina cap, to the delight of the audience, during his Distinguished Writer-in-Residence Reading. (photo by Graham Terhune)
2. Creative writing faculty member Jim Seay speaks with Stewart O'Nan (photo by Graham Terhune)
3. Distinguished Writer-in-Residence program donors Richard Hibbits (left) and his wife Ford Hibbits (right) with Weldon Thornton, Professor Emeritus of English (photo by Graham Terhune)
4. Daniel Wallace with his senior honors fiction students (photo by Graham Terhune)
5. Stewart O'Nan speaks with creative writing students (photo by Graham Terhune)


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Event Date: 

Thu, 02/27/2014 - 7:30pm

C19 Conference at UNC, March 13-16

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
3rd Biennial Conference  "Commons"
March 13-16

Professors Jane Thrailkill and Eliza Richards, with the generous support of the Department of English & Comparative Literature, the Institute for the Arts & Humanities, and the College of Arts & Sciences, will host C19, the prestigious biennial conference of the Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists. UNC extends special thanks to members of the C19 Executive Committee for selecting UNC-Chapel Hill as the site of the 2014 conference. 

The conference theme, "Commons," offers an occasion to think about gathering spaces not just as abstractions but as material places informed by historical limits and possibilities. As the oldest public university in the United States, UNC is just such a place. Three panels located at important common sites on campus—the Ackland Museum, the Wilson Special Collections Library, and the old quad where monuments stand in uneasy, thought-provoking juxtaposition—explore the history and possibilities of UNC's common grounds.

The conference will take place at the Carolina Inn, with a welcome reception on Friday, March 14. UNC will welcome scholars from across the country and globe. Several UNC colleagues, graduate students, and alumni will be presenting as well.

The C19 Conference Schedule can be found here. Please visit the C19 website for more information regarding the program and registration. Additionally, contact Ben Sammons, Assistant Conference Coordinator, for more information.


Event Date: 

Thu, 03/13/2014 - 8:30am to Sun, 03/16/2014 - 11:00am

Boundaries of Literature Symposium

Please mark your calendars for this year’s Boundaries of Literature Symposium, which will take place on Tuesday, February 25.  This year’s symposium encompasses two events featuring Prof. Priscilla Wald of Duke University.

At 10:30 a.m., Prof. Wald will host a publication workshop, drawing on her work as editor of American Literature and co-director of the First Book Institute (  Lunch will be provided following the seminar.  If you plan on attending, please RSVP to by Friday, February 21.

At 4:30 p.m., Prof. Wald will deliver a lecture titled “Strange Life: Bioslavery in the Moment of Biotechnology.”  An abstract of her talk is available here.  Although it is not necessary, Prof. Wald has recommended that those who wish to might read Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” and watch the film Blade Runner before her talk.

This symposium is generously supported by the UNC-Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature, the Department of American Studies, and the Comparative Literature and English Association of Graduate Students.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Event Date: 

Tue, 02/25/2014 - 10:30am