National Humanities Alliance

NEH Announces Wendell E. Berry to Deliver 2012 Jefferson Lecture

Lecture to take place in DC April 23

February 15, 2012 -  The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced this week that Wendell E. Berry will deliver the 2012 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities on April 23. A noted poet, essayist, novelist, farmer, and conservationist, Berry will discuss man’s interaction with nature, as depicted in history, philosophy, and literature. His lecture, “It All Turns on Affection,” will take place in Washington, DC at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

“Wendell Berry is an American treasure whose prose and poetry have— with subtlety, intelligence, and conviction—helped open our eyes to the importance of respecting and living with nature,” said NEH Chairman Jim Leach in an agency press release. “Tilling the land of his Kentucky forebears, he is a 21st-century Henry David Thoreau.”

In his writing and activism, Berry has spent his career meditating on our relationship and responsibilities to the land and community. He is the author of more than forty books of poems, essays, short stories, and novels, many of which draw on the traditional rural values of Berry’s native Kentucky. Since 1965 Berry has lived and farmed with his wife Tanya at Lane’s Landing, a 125-acre farm near Port Royal, Kentucky, near the birthplace of his parents—experiences Berry has written about in essays such as “The Long Legged-House” and “A Native Hill.” A committed conservationist, Berry has been an outspoken critic of industrialized farming and mountaintop removal coal mining.

Berry was born in 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky. He studied English at the University of Kentucky, where he earned a B.A. in 1956 and M.A. in 1957. In 1958, Berry received a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. He has taught at Stanford University, Georgetown College, New York University, the University of Cincinnati, Bucknell University, and the University of Kentucky.

He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundation fellowships, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Jean Stein Award, a Lannan Foundation Award for Non-Fiction, the Ingersoll Foundation’s T.S. Eliot Award, and the Aitken-Taylor Award for Poetry from The Sewanee Review. He is an elected member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Last March, President Obama awarded Berry a National Humanities Medal.

The annual Jefferson Lecture, sponsored by NEH, is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. It is the Endowment’s most widely attended annual event and carries a $10,000 honorarium.

Tickets to the lecture are free of charge and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Ticket requests may be submitted to NEH via the online form.

Additional details about the event, including Wendell Berry’s biographical information, is available on the NEH website.

[This article posted by: Erin Mosley]  

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