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Award-winning author to open the Spring 2008 Visiting Writers Series

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Award-winning author to open the Spring 2008 Visiting Writers Series

By Lori Dugan

THATCHER, AZ—Eastern Arizona College’s English Department is delighted to have Dr. James Cahalan of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) on campus to open the Spring portion of the 2007-2008 Visiting Writers Series with a workshop and reading.

Cahalan will read primarily from his most recent book, Edward Abbey: A Life, a biography about the life of one of the most polarizing characters in the early environmentalist movement. Abbey was originally from Indiana, Pennsylvania, but later moved to the Southwest, where he even spent time in Aravaipa Canyon.

The workshop will take place at 10 a.m. on Monday, February 25, in room #269 of the Academic Programs building on the Thatcher campus. In this session, Cahalan joins an American Literature class to discuss place studies as a movement in literary theory. All interested community members are invited to join the discussion.

“Cahalan’s visit here is uniquely able to demonstrate how ‘place’ becomes an intricate aspect of a writer’s voice. This will not be a dry lecture,” said EAC English instructor and series coordinator Tracy Lassiter. “Dr. Cahalan’s presentation will juxtapose recent pictures of Aravaipa Canyon with Abbey’s own writing about the area. Attendees will be able to see how writers’ impressions of a physical place get turned into images on a page.”

A reading is scheduled for 7 p.m. on February 25 at the College’s Discovery Park Campus-Circle D Ranch. Cahalan’s multimedia presentation will include slides and video clips.

“I’ve invited Dr. Cahalan here to speak because he is one of the foremost Abbey scholars, in part because his biography is balanced and well-researched,” said Lassiter. “He portrays Abbey’s inglorious aspects as well as his positive, lasting influence.” Cahalan’s book has been featured on NPR, won book awards, and, most recently, been translated into Korean.

Furthermore, five of Cahalan’s seven books have been about Irish authors, particularly fiction writers beyond James Joyce. In 1999 he published Double Visions: Women and Men in Modern and Contemporary Irish Fiction in which he examines gender issues in the writings and lives of a dozen notable Irish authors and their fictional characters.

He’s been teaching courses on Irish literature and the Irish language since 1978, and in the 1980s he directed an Irish studies undergraduate degree program and a summer-study abroad program in Dublin. He is a member of the American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS) and the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures (IASIL). From 1996-99 he lectured extensively on the Great Irish Famine of more than 150 years ago.

“We are fortunate to have Dr. Cahalan on campus for these two great events,” said Lassiter. “I hope that the people of the Gila Valley will take advantage of this very special opportunity.”

For more information about the workshop and reading contact Lassiter in the EAC English Department at 428-4098.