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Native American author launches Syracuse Symposium

August 30, 2010

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

Syracuse University kicks off its 2010 Syracuse Symposium with a free lecture by Native American author and advocate Leslie Marmon Silko. Her lecture, “On Conflict: Peace and War,” is Wednesday, Sept. 8, at 7:30 p.m. in Joyce Hergenhan Auditorium, Newhouse 3. The event is free and open to the public and is co-sponsored by the Native American Studies Program; the Center for Indigenous Law, Governance and Citizenship in the College of Law; and the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ Native Student Program. 

“Conflict: Peace and War” is the theme of the semester-long symposium, organized and presented by the SU Humanities Center for The College of Arts and Sciences and campus community. For more information, call 443-7192.

silko“Leslie Marmon Silko is one of the foremost Native American authors of the last 40 years,” says Gregg Lambert, Dean’s Professor of the Humanities and director of the SU Humanities Center. “She blends Western literary forms with indigenous oral traditions to communicate important concepts about time, nature and spirituality. I cannot think of a more appropriate person to inaugurate our ‘conflict’ theme.”

During her presentation, Silko will read excerpts from her best-selling novel, “Ceremony” (Penguin, 1977), and from her forthcoming memoir, “The Turquoise Ledge” (Viking Adult, 2010). Also, she will lead a discussion about the “Indian Wars” of the Southwest, involving the enslavement of Native American children by Spaniards and Mexicans.

Raised on the Laguna Pueblo Reservation in northern New Mexico, Silko learned about Laguna legends and traditions from her great-grandmother and other members of her extended family. After graduating from the University of New Mexico in 1969, she forsook going to law school to embark on a teaching and writing career. Silko has said that because of her mixed ancestry (i.e., Laguna, Pueblo, Mexican and white), she has often felt like an outcast, a quality that has permeated her writing: “I am of mixed-breed ancestry, but what I know is Laguna.”

Since the success of “Ceremony”—a war-tinged novel interweaving free verse poetry and narrative prose—Silko has published more than a dozen novels, as well as short story and poetry collections. The most popular of these books are “Storyteller” (Arcade Publishing, 1981), a collection of poems and short stories; “Almanac of the Dead” (Simon & Schuster, 1991), an epic novel written with help from a MacArthur grant; and “Gardens in the Dunes” (Simon & Schuster, 1999), a novel weaving together themes of women’s history, slavery and conquest. Also, she has published several articles on Native American literature and social issues.

Upcoming Syracuse Symposium speakers include writers George Packer (Sept. 16) and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Oct. 14). This year’s line-up features more than two dozen lectures, sister symposia, exhibitions, performances and screenings, all free and open to the public.

Founded in 2008, the SU Humanities Center fosters public engagement in the humanities, as well as scholarship in and across various fields of humanistic inquiry. The center is home to the Syracuse Symposium; the Mellon Central New York Humanities Corridor (with Cornell University and the University of Rochester); the Jeanette K. Watson Visiting Collaborator; and other major research initiatives, annual fellowships and public programming.

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