Mahindra Humanities Center presents
The Norton Lectures | Viet Thanh Nguyen |
To Save and to Destroy: On Writing as an Other
The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures will be given by Viet Thanh Nguyen. To Save and to Destroy: On Writing as an Other.
2023 Lecture Dates: September 19, October 17, December 5
2024 Lecture Dates: February 20, March 20**, April 16
Viet Thanh Nguyen's novel The Sympathizer won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and numerous other awards. His most recent publication is A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial. His other books are the sequel to The Sympathizer, The Committed; a short story collection, The Refugees; Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War (a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction); and Race and Resistance: Literature and Politics in Asian America. He is a University Professor at the University of Southern California.
Endowed in 1925, the Norton Lectures are Harvard's preeminent lecture series in the arts and humanities.
For more information, please visit the Mahindra Humanities Center.
**All lectures are at 6:00pm in Sanders Theatre except Lecture 5 on March 20th which will take place at Memorial Church.
On the Double, or Inauthenticity
Tuesday | September 19, 2023 | 6:00pm | Sanders Theatre
Speaker: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Interlocutor: Min Song.
The first of six, this opening lecture addresses what it means to write as an other, especially given writing’s power both to save and to destroy the other. The lecture also lays out the methodology of the lectures, an embodied, autobiographical criticism that emerges from the tension between the humanities and the bare life of refugees.
Min Hyoung Song is the Chair of the English Department and Director of the Asian American Studies Program at Boston College. His most recent book is entitled Climate Lyricism.
Introduction by Bruno Carvalho, Interim Director of the Mahindra Humanities Center.
Watch the live recording of Lecture 1 on the Mahindra Humanities Center's YouTube Channel, posted Sept. 26.
On Speaking as an Other
Tuesday | October 17, 2023 | 6:00pm | Sanders Theatre
Speaker: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Interlocutor: Laila Lalami.
Timed to coincide with the release of Nguyen’s book, A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial, this lecture highlights some of the book’s themes and problems, especially concerning writing memoir as both an individual and a collective story, the perils of betrayal, and the difference between private secrets and open secrets.
A limited number of signed copies of A Man of Two Faces: A Memoir, A History, A Memorial will be available for purchase at the venue starting at 5:00pm. Other books by Viet Thanh Nguyen will also be available for purchase at this time. The book sale is hosted by the Harvard Book Store.
Laila Lalami is currently Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California at Riverside. Her most recent novel, The Other Americans, was a national bestseller, won the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, and was a finalist for the National Book Award in Fiction.
Introduction by Glenda Carpio, Chair of the Department of English, Harvard College Professor, and Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature at Harvard University.
Watch the live recording of Lecture 2 on the Mahindra Humanities Center's YouTube Channel, posted Oct. 23.
On the Death of Asian Americans
Tuesday | December 5, 2023 | 6:00pm | Sanders Theatre
Speaker: Viet Thanh Nguyen, Interlocutor: Jeff Chang.
Asian Americans exist at the juncture of exclusion and inclusion. Asian American culture and politics is more unified in the face of exclusion and less unified in the face of inclusion. This lecture looks at this dynamic as it is dealt with in literature, which has also been one of the most successful ways for Asian Americans to achieve inclusion through narrative plenitude.
Jeff Chang has written extensively on culture, politics, the arts, and music. His books include Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, and Who We Be: The Colorization of America.
Introduction by Catherine Nguyen, Assistant Professor of Asian Diasporic Literatures at Emerson College.
On Crossing Borders
Tuesday | February 20, 2024 | 6:00pm | Sanders Theatre
Colonization violated borders and redrew them, generating political, economic, and cultural consequences that are still being lived and felt. Part of the literary and cultural response has been to find the right forms that can speak back to colonization; the ones that interest this lecture cross or abolish (generic) borders and invent new styles like “horrific surrealism.”
Introduction by Jesse McCarthy, Assistant Professor of English and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University.
On Being Minor
Wednesday | March 20, 2024 | 6:00pm | Memorial Church
What does it mean to be a “minor” writer? From a minority, from a small nation, from the conquered, from the displaced, from spaces that are inevitably politicized or forgotten or overlooked? Art and politics explicitly overlap for the writer who is forced to be minor or who chooses to be minor, and whose aesthetic strategies and archives can and must be eclectic.
Introduction by Ju Yon Kim, Patsy Takemoto Mink Professor of English and Harvard College Professor.
Note: Lecture 5 is at Memorial Church instead of at Sanders Theatre. Ticketing for Lecture 5 will be announced in Spring 2024.
On the Joy of Otherness
Tuesday | April 16, 2024 | 6:00pm | Sanders Theatre
To write as an other is to remember the conditions and origins of one’s otherness, which are usually unhappy, both individually and collectively. What are the possibilities in finding joy as an other?
"On the Joy of Otherness" is the sixth and final Norton Lecture with Viet Thanh Nguyen.
Introduction by Howie Tam, Assistant Professor of English at Brandeis University.
FREE, but tickets are required. Tickets will be available starting at noon on the day of the lecture. Available online (handling fees apply) or in person at Sanders Theatre. Limit of 4 tickets per person. Tickets valid only until 5:45pm.
Please note: Ticketing for Lecture 5 will be announced in Spring 2024.
90 minutes (estimated).
Free parking is available at the Broadway Garage, located at 7 Felton Street, between Broadway and Cambridge Streets. Parking is from one hour pre-performance to one hour post. More info at Parking & Directions.
45 Quincy Street, Cambridge, MA, 02138
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