Operating this year by the theme of “Exile, Refuge and Home,” the Hemingway Literary Center (HLC) creates a series each year to spark discussions about important topics stemming from speaker-lead lectures. The series, consisting of four distinct lectures throughout the semester, brings people of different backgrounds together to produce lively and timely discussions.
English professor and HLC director Cheryl Hindrichs explained the center’s vision and how the different themes each year provide the base for discussion, despite how new the literary events are to campus.
“Our vision is to bring both students and community together to explore that theme and really create dialogue,” Hindrichs said. “We’re not looking to provide answers, we’re looking to ask questions and to foster that discussion.”
English department chair Mac Test has a strong passion for the HLC.
“Ever since I first got here 11 years ago and heard we have this Hemingway Center, I always thought that we have to do something with this,” Test said. “We have the name of the family, the family gave us the name, we are the only center in the world that’s called the Hemingway Center.”
Dakota Cline, a sophomore majoring in sociology, attended the center’s most recent lecture “A Pure Heart”.
“It was Douglas Kearney reading and it was about his poetry and meaning behind his art,” Cline wrote in an email. “I would recommend other students to go because you get to see the author read it in the exact way it was intended to be heard. The tone, attitude, the highs and lows in the voice, the volume. It’s a much richer experience.”
Universities are hubs for students with diverse interests and backgrounds, and many times students are closed off, sticking to the comfort of their circles. Hindrichs sees that the HLC is unique in the way it brings these people together who might not have met otherwise.
“It brings very different groups of people together and often at the university, you can end up in these silos such as English people just talking to other English people and so on,” Hindrichs said. “For example, our theme this year is ‘Exile, Refuge, Home’ and there are people all over the university that are working on things like the refugee community, history of immigration, etc. and so it gives all of these different perspectives in a class forum.”
As the HLC continues to bring these lectures and readings to campus, it is not just directed towards English majors. Even though some of the lectures focus on literature, each one incorporates a theme, which takes it beyond a simple literature event. The next lecture event will feature Paul O’Mahoney, a Britsh actor and director.
“While these are dealing with literature as a focus, (‘Out of Chaos’) is going to focus on a story of the founding of Rome but it’s also an old story of a refugee leaving what was the African continent, crossing the Mediterranean and coming to Italy,” Test said. “So what Paul O’Mahoney is doing is taking that whole story and reshaping it into [the]contemporary story of refugees crossing the Mediterranean.”
Hindrichs feels these lectures can offer a richness of knowledge to students and help expand their minds.
“I get that at 6 p.m. on a Thursday or Wednesday, you’ve got a lot of other things you are thinking about,” Hindrichs said. “But once you get there and spend an hour thinking about things you wouldn’t normally, getting new ideas and meeting new people, you come away from it feeling like your life and sense of being has expanded.”