The Visiting Writer Seminars at OBU will welcome gifted author Ron Hansen to campus Oct. 7-8.
Hansen is the author of nine novels, two collections of stories, a children’s book, a collection of essays and several screenplays. “Mariette in Ecstasy” was a nationwide best seller, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Gold Medal in Fiction from the Commonwealth Club of California. His novel “Atticus” was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.
His novel “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” was also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck. His most recent book is “Hotly in Pursuit of the Real: Notes Toward a Memoir.” He teaches film and creative writing at Santa Clara University in northern California.
Hansen will give a public reading of fiction in the Mabee Suite, located inside OBU’s Noble Complex, Monday, Oct. 7, at 7 p.m., with a question and answer session after the reading. A reception and book signing will follow, with refreshments provided. The public is invited and the event is free.
Tuesday evening, Oct. 8, Hansen will deliver a session titled, “Making Things Up,” a public discussion on writing and creativity in the second floor lecture hall inside Stavros Hall at 7 p.m.
In an interview conducted by “Image Journal,” author Ron Hansen discussed historical fiction and what it takes to write it with the journal’s Brennan O’Donnell.
“There’s a lot of remembering in historical fiction,” said Hansen. “For example, you have to remember that there are no lights after six o’clock at night unless you have a candle or a kerosene lamp. Or that the kitchens aren’t attached to the house. You’re constantly backing up and saying, ‘Oh, wait a second, they would have been barefoot, wouldn’t they?’ Those little things are important, and Ignatian contemplation makes you aware of that.”
Dr. Brent Newsom, associate professor of English and one of the driving forces behind the Visiting Writer Seminars, is ecstatic for Hansen’s visit and the opportunity it provides for both students and faculty, as well as for members of the community who are readers or are aspiring writers.
“Ron Hansen is among the foremost Christian writers publishing fiction for a general audience today, and he is especially acknowledged for his accomplishments in the genres of historical fiction and literary Westerns,” Newsom said. “Like Flannery O’Connor or Walker Percy in the 20th century, his Catholic faith shapes all his work, whether in his depictions of a world riven by vice, of moments of transcendent beauty and mystery, or, most characteristically, of a deeply incarnational mixture of the two. In my own fiction classes, I often have students read excerpts from his book, ‘A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction.’
“Mr. Hansen’s many awards attest to the respect he has won as a literary artist, and his visit to OBU represents an outstanding opportunity for our students, faculty and staff, as well as the Shawnee community, to learn from a living master of the craft of fiction. I’m thrilled that we are able to bring a writer of his stature to OBU.”
Established with the support of many generous alumni and donors, the Visiting Writer Seminars were created to give OBU students, faculty, staff and members of the Shawnee community the chance to experience literature as a living art. Each year a nationally recognized poet or fiction writer is brought to campus to share their work in a public reading, visit classes, meet with students and faculty, and offer a public master class or lecture on writing.
Beginning in 2010, the English Department Reading Series brought writers to campus, focusing on writers living in the area. The Visiting Writer Seminars then began in order to elevate the experience for students and the campus community by bringing in nationally accomplished authors. The University’s first visiting writer, Tania Runyan, came to campus in March 2016. She read from her poems, lectured on writing poetry and consulted with students about their writing. Scott Cairns joined the University for the fall 2016 Visiting Writer Seminar, giving a poetry reading and teaching a masterclass on writing memoir. Gina Ochsner held a reading and a fiction writing master class in fall 2017. Finally, Mark Jarman visited OBU in September 2018 as the Visiting Writer and the keynote speaker for the Southwest Conference on Christianity and Literature.Financial support for the Visiting Writer Seminars is being raised through the University Advancement office to continue bringing excellent writers to OBU's campus. Through the gift of generous alumni donors, a matching gift up to $5,000 per year was pledged beginning in 2017 and running through May 2020. The $5,000 level was reached in the first year, enabling the program to continue to grow. Donations may be given through May 31, 2020, to participate in this gift matching opportunity.