GENESEO, N.Y. – Why do readers have such a voracious interest in the truth about other people’s lives, and what problems do writers face in discerning truth?
Literary non-fiction author Helen Epstein will answer those and other questions about memoir writing as the keynote speaker for this year’s Jack and Carol Kramer Endowed Lectureship Series at SUNY Geneseo, part of the college’s fourth annual GREAT Day celebration April 20 on campus. The lecture series is endowed by SUNY Geneseo alumni Jack and Carol Kramer, both 1976 Geneseo graduates.
Epstein’s address, “Trying to Tell the Truth: Researching and Writing Memoir,” begins at 1:45 p.m. in Wadsworth Auditorium. The lecture, and all GREAT Day events, are free and open to the public. GREAT Day – Geneseo Recognizing Excellence, Achievement & Talent – is a daylong celebration to showcase the work of students through presentations, exhibits and performances. More than 800 students are expected to participate in this year’s program representing all disciplines at the college.
“GREAT Day is a wonderful annual tradition we have started at Geneseo for students to bring their research and creative endeavors before the college’s faculty, their fellow students, and the public,” said Stephen West, distinguished teaching professor of mathematics emeritus at Geneseo and GREAT Day faculty coordinator. “I anticipate nearly 20 percent of the student body will participate in this year’s program. It brings together what our students do best at Geneseo and demonstrates a high degree of academic engagement. It’s a pleasure having Helen Epstein participating in this year’s activities.”
Epstein is the author of six books of literary non-fiction, including the memoirs “Children of the Holocaust” and “Where She Came From: A Daughter’s Search for her Mother’s History” and “Joe Papp: An American Life.” The New York Times named all three to its list of Notable Books of the Year.
Born in Prague in 1947 and brought to the United States as a baby immigrant in 1948, Epstein grew up in New York City, where she attended Hunter College High School for six years, then studied musicology at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She became an instant published journalist during the summer of 1968 while a 20-year-old college student caught in the Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia. In 1971, she graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and later began teaching at New York University, where she became the first woman in the journalism department to be awarded tenure. She also has done freelance writing for the Sunday New York Times.
In addition to endowing this lecture, Jack and Carol Kramer have provided major support for other Geneseo programs. In 2004, they established The Carol Kramer Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Psychology and The Jack Kramer Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in Physics, merit awards that provide tuition assistance for students who demonstrate financial need and show a strong commitment to their field of study inside and outside of the classroom.
No classes are scheduled at Geneseo April 20 to accommodate GREAT Day events.
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