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2008 Community Read: A Farewell to Arms

Throughout the spring term, 2008, Penn State’s Center for American Literary Studies, in partnership with the Penn State University Libraries 

and the Penn State Institute for the Arts and Humanities, sponsored a Community Read of Ernest Hemingway’s powerful 1929 novel, A Farewell to Arms. The Community Read featured a number of Hemingway-related lectures and discussions of the book that took place throughout March and April of 2008.

The book was chosen by Penn State Professor of English Sandra Spanier, General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, Cambridge University Press.

Community Read Undergraduate Essay Competition--Spring 2008

As a part of the Community Read, a prize of $500 was awarded to the best analytical, interpretive essay about any aspect of Ernest Hemingway's novel A Farewell to Arms. Essays will be judged on originality, eloquence, and acuity.

Community Read 2008 Calendar of Events 

Wednesday, March 5, 7:30pm, Boardroom of the Nittany Lion Inn
Professor James Nagel, “The Biographical Context of Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms

Dr. James Nagel is the Eidson Distinguished Professor of American Literature at the University of Georgia and has written more than twenty books on topics in American literature. He is the author ofHemingway in Love and War (which was made into a Hollywood film directed by Lord Richard Attenborough, starring Sandra Bullock and Chris O’Donnell). Professor Nagel will discuss the discoveries he has made while investigating Hemingway’s First World War experiences and reflect on the ways in which Hemingway fashioned his life into the stuff of his novel, A Farewell to Arms. He will also reflect on his own experiences in taking Hemingway’s life to Hollywood.

Thursday, March 6, 4:30pm, Foster Auditorium
Author Tobias Wolff, "Still With Us:  No Farewell to Hemingway"
Penn State University LibrariesCharles W. Mann Jr. Lecture in the Book Arts 


World-renowned author Tobias Wolff is a master of the short story and the memoir.  He has written four acclaimed books of stories, including In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981), Back in the World(1985), The Stories of Tobias Wolff (1988), and The Night in Question(1996), and three of his individual stories have received the prestigious O. Henry Award. His memoir This Boys’ Life (1989), which tells the story of his difficult adolescence in the Pacific North West, was made into a major motion picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Ellen Barkin. His brilliant follow up, In Pharaoh’s Army: Memories of the Lost War (1994), constitutes a memoir of his tour of duty in Vietnam. His recent novel, Old School (2003), his first foray in that genre, focuses on the character of a young writer eager to meet and impress his literary idol, Ernest Hemingway.

Community Read Discussion Sessions

Tuesday, March 25, 7:30pm, 102 Kern Building

Facilitated by Professor Deborah Clarke, Penn State Department of English, and Josephine Berry Weiss Early Career Professor in the Humanities and Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature Jonathan Eburne.

Tuesday, April 1, 7:30pm, 102 Kern Building

Facilitated by Paterno Family Professor Michael Bérubé and Assistant Professor Emily Harrington, Penn State Department of English.

Tuesday, April 8, 7:30pm, 102 Kern Building

Facilitated by Professor Robert Caserio and Assistant Professor Linda Selzer, Penn State Department of English.

Wednesday, April 16, 7:30pm, Foster Auditorium
Jonathan Bank, Artistic Director, Mint Theater , New York, New York

Beginning in February of 2008, Mr. Bank’s Mint Theater will present Ernest Hemingway’s little-known play of the Spanish Civil War, The Fifth Column,  a work written in 1937 which has not been produced for the stage since 1940. Mr. Bank will speak about the thwarted production history of the play and compare it to a play written by Hemingway’s wife of the 1940s, war correspondent and novelist Martha Gellhorn.  Gellhorn’s play, Love Goes to Press: A Comedy in Three Acts, written shortly after their divorce, was a hit on the London stage in 1946 and a flop on Broadway. Both wartime plays present characters recognizable as Hemingway and Gellhorn. With the help of two students from the Penn State School of Theater who will act brief scenes from both works, Mr. Bank will bring the conversation between Hemingway and Gellhorn to life.

Thursday, April 17, 7:30pm, Foster Auditorium
Dr. Susan Beegel, “Hemingway’s Personal Farewell to Arms”

Susan Beegel holds a PhD in English from Yale University and is Adjunct Associate Professor of English at the University of Idaho. For fifteen years, she has edited The Hemingway Review, a scholarly journal published by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation. Beegel is the author or editor of three books as well as more than fifty articles on Ernest Hemingway, other writers, and various aspects of  American literature and history. Beegel’s talk will address how Hemingway altered autobiographical materials to create one of his most compelling fictions. Her lecture will explore the causes and nature of World War I, Hemingway's service as an ambulance driver on the Italian front, his wounding, and his love affair with nurse Agnes von Kurowsky during his recuperation in a Milan hospital.

Reading Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms
Friday, April 18, 7:30pm, Ballroom, Atherton Hotel
Community Read Gala Roundtable

Featuring:
Professor Sandra Spanier, Penn State University
Spanier is a leading scholar of the works of Ernest Hemingway and General Editor of the Hemingway Letters Project, which will result in the publication by Cambridge University Press of a 12-volume scholarly edition of the writer's more than 6000 letters. The project is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities and designated a We the People project, "a special recognition by the NEH for model projects that advance the study, teaching, and understanding of American history and culture.” In addition to her scholarly work, Spanier also has been active in international collaborative efforts to conserve Hemingway's papers in Cuba and to restore his long-time home outside Havana, and she serves on the Board of the Finca Vigía Preservation Foundation. Spanier’s work on A Farewell to Arms has focused on the enigmatic and controversial character of Catherine Barkley. She will begin the Gala by offering her comments on Barkley’s role in A Farewell to Arms, considering the World War I context, Hemingway’s theories of composition, and what the unpublished manuscripts reveal.

With Invited Panelists:
Professor Debra Moddelmog, Ohio State University

Debra Moddelmog is Professor of English and coordinator of the Sexuality Studies Program at The Ohio State University. She specializes in 20th-century American fiction, with a focus on the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, class, and nation. The author of two monographs and numerous articles, her most recent book, Reading Desire: In Pursuit of Ernest Hemingway (Cornell 1999), has been translated into Japanese. She earned her Ph.D. in English from Penn State in 1985.

Professor Robert W. Trogdon, Kent State University

Robert W. Trogdon is an Associate Professor of English at Kent State University and director of the university's Institute for Bibliography and Editing. His most recent book is The Lousy Racket: Hemingway, Scribners and the Business of Literature (2007), a study of Ernest Hemingway's professional relationship with his primary American publisher. He is also the editor of Ernest Hemingway: A Literary Reference (1999)and co-editor of "The Only Thing That Counts": The Ernest Hemingway/Maxwell Perkins Correspondence, 1925-1947 (1996). Currently, he serves as Associate Executive Editor of the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Joseph Conrad and is heading the editorial team producing volume 1 of the Cambridge Edition of the Letters of Ernest Hemingway.

Professor Susan F. Beegel, University of Idaho

Susan F. Beegel holds a PhD in English from Yale University and is Adjunct Associate Professor of English at the University of Idaho. For fifteen years, she has edited The Hemingway Review, a scholarly journal published by the Ernest Hemingway Foundation.  Beegel is the author or editor of three books as well as more than fifty articles on Ernest Hemingway, other writers, and various aspects of  American literature and history. She has appeared on-camera in several television documentaries about Hemingway, and worked behind the scenes on others. Her most recent television appearance to discuss Hemingway was filmed live from Key West for C-SPAN's American Masters series. A library trustee for many years, she is an enthusiast of Community Reads, and was recently chosen by the National Endowment for the Arts for their "Big Read" radio program and CD on A Farewell to Arms. She is currently at work for W. W. Norton on condensing and updating Michael Reynolds's five-volume biography of Ernest Hemingway into a single volume.

Read, Discuss, Revel