Author Charles Frazier to speak Oct. 30 as part of MC lecture series

Sept. 7, 2012
Contact: Chloe Kennedy, News and New Media Writer
865.981.8209; chloe.kennedy@maryvillecollege.edu

Charles Frazier, author of the best-selling novel Cold Mountain, will speak at Maryville College on Tues., Oct. 30.

During the presentation, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, Frazier will be part of a panel discussion of his work, focusing on the role of place and region in his novels. The event, which is part of the College’s Appalachian Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.

Immediately following the Oct. 30 presentation, a book signing will be held in the Clayton Center’s William Baxter Lee III Grand Foyer. Copies of Frazier's Thirteen Moons, Nightwoods and Cold Mountain will be available for purchase from Southland Books.

On Wed., Oct. 24, the public is invited to a free screening of the 2003 film “Cold Mountain,” which is based on Frazier’s 1997 best-selling novel of the same name and stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renée Zellweger. The film screening, which is co-sponsored by MC's Civil War Sesquicentennial Series, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre. Prior to the screening, MC Associate Professor of History Dr. Aaron Astor will give introductory remarks to provide historical context.

“We invited Charles Frazier to appear as part of the Appalachian Lecture Series because of his personal ties to the region and because his work is infused with Appalachian culture and history,” said Kim Trevathan, assistant professor of writing/communication at Maryville College and member of the Appalachian Lecture Series planning committee. “Frazier is arguably the best-known writer we’ve had in the history of the series. His first novel, Cold Mountain, was a literary masterpiece that was also a bestseller – a rarity in America.”

Cold Mountain, published in 1997 and later adapted to a film in 2003, follows a Civil War soldier on a journey from the hospital where he is recovering from a grievous wound to his home in North Carolina, where his sweetheart awaits.

“Like many great novels, it covers a lot of territory in terms of geography and subject matter, offering a multilayered narrative that teaches us about the war and the horrible effects on the men who fought, as well as the havoc being wreaked on those who stayed behind,” Trevathan said. “It’s a love story, a quest narrative and a tragedy – beautifully written – with characters who will stay with readers long after they finish the novel.”

Frazier is also the author of the 2006 New York Times best-selling novel Thirteen Moons, a follow-up to Cold Mountain that follows nearly a century of the life of a man who is sent on a journey through the wilderness to the edge of the Cherokee Nation.

Frazier’s most recent novel, Nightwoods, is set in the mountains of western North Carolina in the 1960s. The protagonist, Luce, is a young woman who inherits her murdered sister’s troubled children.

“Like Cold Mountain, it is part love story, part quest, though this time the quest has more in common with the mystery and the thriller than the historical novel,” Trevathan said. “It is a powerful narrative, unpredictable and revelatory; the characters complex and unforgettable.”

Alumna and poet to open series

Summar West, a poet and Maryville College alumna, will discuss her work and read from her poetry during a lecture scheduled for Tues., Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. in Fayerweather Hall’s Lawson Auditorium.

The event is free and open to the public.

“Summar West’s poetry is deeply rooted in this region, powerful in its distinct sense of place, original in perspective and language, her voice strong and distinct,” Trevathan said. “Summar does what all good creative writers do. She makes the individual experience universal.”

Born and raised in Monroe County in East Tennessee, West graduated from Maryville College in 2001. She earned a master’s degree in social sciences from the University of Chicago and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry is deeply rooted in an Appalachian landscape, and her work often responds to questions and issues related to family, spirituality, the environment, gender and sexual orientation. Her poems have been published in the Appalachian Journal, Appalachian Heritage, Ellipsis and Tar River Poetry. She currently teaches in the English Department at Maryville College.

“Hearing her work, people from this area might recognize the places from which her poetry emerges, the experiences that many share in some sense, but through her poems, one sees place and character anew, with fresh eyes,” Trevathan said. “At the same time, her poetry transcends the label ‘regional’ because the questions it raises and the themes it explores are universal, from the acceptance/rejection of difference in ‘First Church of the Rude Awakening’ to relationships and identity in ‘Reminder to Self on How to Behave in the Parking Lot After a Revelation.’”

Musician to bring series to a close

Knoxville musician Scott Miller will close the series with a performance on Tues., Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Clayton Center’s Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre. The event is free and open to the public.

“Scott Miller is an immensely talented artist with close ties to the area,” Trevathan said. “His performances are intense, his lyrics complex and original, and often he manages to tell compelling stories through his songs. At the same time, onstage he is personable and has a great sense of humor.”

After graduating from the College of William and Mary, where Miller earned a degree in Russian literature, he moved to Knoxville in 1990. He performed in local bars and clubs until 1994, when he helped form a roots rock band called The Viceroys, later known as The V-Roys.

After a solo career, Miller teamed up with a band of musicians called The Commonwealth and earned national regard for the albums “Thus Always to Tyrants,” “Upside/Downside” and “Citation,” as well as live recordings “Are You With Me?” and “Reconstruction.”

“His songwriting ranges from self-deprecating rockers such as ‘I Made a Mess of this Town,’ (recorded with his band The Commonwealth) to the haunting ‘The Rain,’ a quietly rendered, simple tale from the point of view of a Civil War soldier at Spotsylvania,” Trevathan said. “I wasn't surprised when I found out Scott has a degree in Russian literature from William and Mary. I think he will appeal to students as well as those who are a bit older.”

Lecture series is tradition at College

Begun at Maryville College in 1988, the Appalachian Lecture Series was “envisioned as a vehicle for recognizing the unique and valuable contributions of Southern Appalachian culture,” said Dr. Susan Schneibel, professor of comparative literature at the College and chair of the division of languages and literature. “For over two decades, the series has invited artists, scholars, musicians, writers and historians to the College each fall to give presentations on the heritage, as well as the future of the region.”

For more information on this fall’s series, contact Schneibel at 865.981.8251 or susan.schneibel@maryvillecollege.edu.