Rice Unconventional Wisdom
Campbell Lecture Series

Previous Lectures

Anne Wilkes Tucker

2014 Campbell Lecture Series featuring Robert Wilson Watch the webcast here  March 26  March 27  March 28   The 2014 Campbell Lecture Series presents Robert Wilson March 26, 27 & 28 @ 6 PM Rice Media Center Auditorium  A General Reception in the Rice Media Center Gallery will follow the lecture on Wednesday, March 26th Admission: Lectures are free and open to the public. Seating is open and will begin at 5:30pm each evening. Location: The lectures will take place in the Rice Media Center Auditorium (Building 56 on the Campus Map) near Entrance 8 from University Blvd. Please visit www.rice.edu/maps for campus maps and driving directions Parking: Visitors can use West Lot 1. Parking rates and maps can be found at parking.rice.edu Photography: No photos during the lecture, please. The lecture will be videotaped and photographed for archival purposes. Event Details: Each lecture will be approximately 45 minutes in length, followed by audience questions.   *RESERVATIONS REQUIRED* Please RSVP to campbell.lecture@rice.edu ROBERT WILSON The New York Times described Robert Wilson as "a towering figure in the world of experimental theater and an explorer in the uses of time and space on stage." Born in Waco, Texas, Wilson is among the world's foremost theater and visual artists. His works for the stage unconventionally integrate a wide variety of artistic media, including dance, movement, lighting, sculpture, music and text. His images are aesthetically striking and emotionally charged, and his productions have earned the acclaim of audiences and critics worldwide. After being educated at the University of Texas and Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, Wilson founded the New York-based performance collective "The Byrd Hoffman School of Byrds" in the mid-1960s, and developed his first signature works, including Deafman Glance (1970) and A Letter for Queen Victoria (1974-1975). With Philip Glass he wrote the seminal opera Einstein on the Beach (1976). Wilson's artistic collaborators include many writers and musicians such as Heiner Müller, Tom Waits, Susan Sontag, Laurie Anderson, William Burroughs, Lou Reed and Jessye Norman. He has also left his imprint on masterworks such as Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape, Puccini's Madama Butterfly, Debussy's Pelléas et Melisande, Brecht/Weill's Threepenny Opera, Büchner's Woyzeck, Jean de la Fontaine's Fables and Homer's Odyssey. Wilson's drawings, paintings and sculptures have been presented around the world in hundreds of solo and group showings, and his works are held in private collections and museums throughout the world. Wilson has been honored with numerous awards for excellence, including a Pulitzer Prize nomination, two Premio Ubu awards, the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale, and an Olivier Award. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters and France pronounced him Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres. Wilson is the founder and Artistic Director of The Watermill Center, a laboratory for performing arts in Watermill, New York.  


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Robert Wilson

Robert Wilson

March 26, 27 & 28 @ 6 PM
A Series of Lectures by Robert Wilson


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Patrick Summers

Patrick Summers

March 18, 19 & 20
Thinking Music : The Conductor as Cultural Leader and Teacher


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Stanley Fish

Stanley Fish

Academic Freedom: 
A Series of Lectures by Stanley Fish 
April10, 11 & 12, 2012  


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Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith

November 10, 2010
A Reading by Zadie Smith


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The Promise of Museums

The Promise of Museums

October 27, 28, 29, 2009
The Promise of Museums


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Stephen Greenblatt

Stephen Greenblatt

Oct 21, 22, and 23, 2008
Shakespeare's Creative Freedom


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Alix Ohlin

Alix Ohlin

Oct. 23, 24, and 25, 2007
The Tempest of Art and Nature


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Ha Jin

Ha Jin

Oct. 24, 25, and 26, 2006 
The Writer as Migrant


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Robert Pinsky

Robert Pinsky

Oct. 18, 19, and 20, 2005
The American Town: Dreams and Nightmares


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The Campbell Lecture Series
The Writer as Migrant

2006 Campbell Lecture Series
"The Writer as Migrant" by Ha Jin

October 24, 25, and 26, 2006
Rice University

WATCH THE WEBCAST

From Rice News

Challenges, opportunities face migrant writers

BY LYNETTE MCGLAMERY
Special to the Rice News

Acclaimed author Ha Jin intended to return to China after he earned his Ph.D. in English at Brandeis University so he could pursue a teaching career and raise his family. But then life threw him a curve: the Tiananmen Square massacre. He decided it would be impossible to return to China because he would not be able to write with integrity there. His life as an expatriate — and his journey as a writer — had begun.

Jin discussed the challenges and opportunities of this journey that he and other writers who migrate to another country must face during last week’s Campbell Lecture Series at Rice titled “The Writer as a Migrant.”

Jin said writers like Soviet author Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Chinese author Lin Yutang, who established themselves in their native countries before their emigration to America, feel the need to become spokesmen on behalf of their people.

“Writers from less-developed countries are apt to define themselves in their social roles,” Jin said, “partly because of their guilt for their emigrations to the materially privileged West, and partly because of the education they received in their native lands, where the collective is held above the individual.”

Jin said in these roles, however, Solzhenitsyn’s and Lin’s work did not match the “artistic vigor” of their earlier fiction; it was their lasting literary works, not their social writings, that enabled them to “return” to their homeland.

“Their social functions in their lifetimes have been forgotten, and what remains are only the books secreted from their writing selves,” he said. “Only literature can penetrate the historical, political and linguistic barriers and reach the readership that includes the people of the writer’s tribe.”

Migrant writers have another choice in their journey: to write in their native language or in their adopted language. Jin said they already feel guilty about leaving their country but “the ultimate betrayal is to choose to write in another language.”

Jin said it took him a year to decide to write in English, and he did so to survive. He had to compete for university teaching jobs, and writing in English would be best for his family and his future in America.

Both Joseph Conrad, who migrated from Poland to England, and Vladimir Nabokov, who was exiled from Russia, chose to write in English for similar reasons. Jin said despite their “linguistic betrayal,” their literary works helped them become respected figures in their native countries.
Jin said this is because their work is universally translatable — their stories remain meaningful to people regardless of the language into which they are translated.

Migrant writers also have to cope with nostalgia for their homeland, the idea that they’ll someday return and the belief that their writing success is appreciated by the people of their homeland.

Invoking C.P. Cavafy’s poem “Ithaka,” in which Ithaka symbolizes arrival, not return, Jin said, “Since most of us cannot go home again, we have to look for our own Ithakas and try to find ways to get there.”

Jin presented three original lectures for the Campbell series, and they will be compiled into a book to be published by the University of Chicago Press. A video recording of the lectures also will be available in Fondren Library.

The Campbell Lecture Series, established by T.C. Campbell ’34, is an annual public event where an esteemed literary figure or artist presents new ideas that advance the study of literature and art.

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