Posts tagged ‘Michael Bérubé’

Margaret Atwood on Campus

Michael Berube handled the introduction, emphasizing his guest’s rare standing as a giant in both the fiction and non-fiction worlds—”not just an acclaimed and accomplished writer,” said Berube, the literature professor and director of Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities, “but also a brilliant contemporary critic.” He went on, and one got the impression Berube could’ve talked about Margaret Atwood all afternoon.

AtwoodInstead, he ceded the stage to one of his literary heroes, a woman whose career seems to justify such a gushing intro. Atwood was in town this week to accept the IAH’s 2014 Medal for Distinguished Achievement. (You can read more about the award, and find a list of past winners, here.) She’s best known as a Booker Prize-winning author, but is much more than “just” a giant of modern literature: poet, children’s book author, environmentalist and, as she showed Wednesday, a dryly hilarious speaker.

Her speech was titled “Genre and Gender,” and it covered the history, evolution, and often complicated intersection of the two in literature both classic and obscure. I think I wasn’t alone in not always following exactly where Atwood was going, but I laughed a lot, and thought about more than a few things I’d never considered—for example, the gender themes in The Wizard of Oz, where all the “whole,” powerful characters are female, and the men are cowardly, unfeeling, brainless, or frauds. Like so much of Atwood’s writing, it was sharp, often funny, and nearly always compelling.

Her newest book, the novel MaddAddam, is the third in a trilogy that she described as “a fictional saga set in the near future, on this planet, and within the realm of possibility.” (The trilogy is set for an HBO adaptation.) Like much of her fiction, it’s described as dystopian, a mix both gloomy and funny of science fiction and science that’s perhaps not so fictional after all. It’s here, in the overlap of observation and speculation, especially about the environment, that Atwood’s work holds so much power. As she said Wednesday, she’s fond of posing (and answering) the question: “Do you really want to go there? If not, change the road.”

Ryan Jones, senior editor

November 13, 2014 at 6:47 pm Leave a comment

The Sept./Oct. Issue is Coming Your Way

SeptOctCoverOur Sept./Oct. issue is arriving in mailboxes this week, and that throwback shot of Ki-Jana Carter ’95 should grab your attention.

The photo is part of “What a Trip,” an eight-page oral history about the 1994 football team’s crazy, Murphy’s Law-inspired road trip to Champaign, Ill.—where the Lions went on to win the national championship. For the story, senior editor Ryan Jones ’95 interviewed 19 former players, managers, and coaches, who recalled the experience in vivid (and sometimes hilarious) detail.

Also in this issue: “For Hire,” an essay by Penn State prof Michael Bérubé, who talks about his son Jamie’s search for employment—and independence. Jamie, who is 22 and has Down syndrome, has faced some unexpected struggles since graduating from high school, and his father reflects on what it all means for Jamie’s future.

Other good stuff in the Sept./Oct. magazine: a collection of photos from an engineering class’s spring trip to China; a Q&A with investigative reporter David DeKok, who has some interesting insights into the 1969 murder of Betsy Aardsma; details on the proposed shake-ups to the Board of Trustees; an introduction to Penn State’s new AD, Sandy Barbour, and much more.

What do you think of the new issue? Let us know in the comments or email heypennstater@psu.edu

Mary Murphy, associate editor

August 28, 2014 at 11:11 am 2 comments

Mourning Joe Paterno, From Afar

Finca_Vigia

A writing room at Finca Vigía, Ernest Hemingway's home outside Havana.

I’ve been absent from the blog—and the magazine—for the better part of the last two weeks. I have an unusual excuse: I’ve been in Cuba.

It was, admittedly, an awkward time to go off on vacation, with Joe Paterno having just passed away and the magazine staff working in fifth gear to put together a tribute to him for our next issue.

But I had already postponed the trip once: I booked the trip months ago and was originally scheduled to go in early December, but the Sandusky scandal—and our need to scrap our Jan-Feb issue in favor of an issue devoted to the scandal—scuttled those plans and caused me to rebook for the end of January. Rescheduling the trip yet again wasn’t an option, for a variety of reasons, mostly having to do with the complicated nature of traveling to Cuba.

(Incidentally, I went there under a U.S.-approved “people-to-people cultural exchange,” which is making it possible for more and more U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba legally. Here’s a Washington Post story from last Friday about such exchanges.)

So I ended up watching from a distance, with only spotty Internet access, as the Penn State family mourned Paterno’s death. I wasn’t able to watch the memorial service at all—though I’m told that (more…)

February 6, 2012 at 5:35 pm 5 comments


Follow The Penn Stater on Twitter

Enter your email address to follow us and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 508 other followers


%d bloggers like this: