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ANNUAL MERRILL LECTURERS
Each year, the Merrill House invites a distinguished member of the writing community to deliver an Annual Merrill Lecture. Our video archive of lectures can be found on our YouTube channel here.
Jonathan Bate is Foundation Professor of Environmental Humanities at Arizona State University and a Senior Research Fellow in English Literature at Oxford University, where he was formerly Provost of Worcester College. The author of twenty books, he is a world-renowned expert on Shakespeare, the Romantic movement and ecological approaches to the arts and humanities. His biographies of the poets John Clare, Ted Hughes and William Wordsworth all won prizes and awards. Knighted for his services to literary scholarship, his most recent book is a memoir about his life with literature called Mad about Shakespeare.
Rosanna Warren teaches in the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. Her book of criticism, Fables of the Self: Studies in Lyric Poetry, came out in 2008. Her most recent books of poems are So Forth (2020), Ghost in a Red Hat (2011), and Departure (2003). Her biography of Max Jacob, Max Jacob: A Life in Art and Letters appeared in October 2020. She is the recipient of awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. She was a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1999 to 2005, and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.
MARLON JAMES, 2021 LEARN MORE
Marlon James was born in Jamaica in 1970. His novel A Brief History of Seven Killings won the 2015 Man Booker Prize. It was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature for fiction, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for fiction, and the Minnesota Book Award.
It was also a New York Times Notable Book. James is also the author of The Book of Night Women, which won the 2010 Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Minnesota Book Award, and was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in fiction and an NAACP Image Award. His first novel, John Crow’s Devil, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, and was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. James divides his time between Minnesota and New York.
CARL PHILLIPS, 2020
Carl Phillips is an American poet and judge for the Yale Younger Poet Award. Phillips is Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis, where Merrill’s papers reside. He was named the recipient of the Fellowship of the Academy of American Poets, given in memory of James Merrill.
MARY JO SALTER, 2019
Mary Jo Salter is the author of eight books of poetry published by Alfred A. Knopf, most recently The Surveyors (2017) and Nothing by Design (2013). Her poems and lyrics have been set to music by Fred Hersch and Caroline Shaw. She is also one of three co-editors of The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Salter is Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.
CLAUDIA RANKINE, 2017
Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; numerous video collaborations, and is the editor of several anthologies. For Citizen, Rankine won the Forward Citizen also holds the distinction of being the only poetry book to be a New York Times bestseller in the nonfiction category.
LOUISE GLUCK, 2017
Louise Glück is the author of thirteen books of poems and a previous collection of essays. Her many awards include the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Bollingen Prize for Poetry, the National Humanities Medal, the Gold Medal for Poetry from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets. She teaches at Yale University and Stanford University and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts
LORRIE MOORE, 2016
Lorrie Moore is the author of three novels and four collections of stories as well as the editor of several anthologies. Moore has received honors for her work, among them the Irish Times International Prize for Literature, a Lannan Foundation fellowship, as well as the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her achievement in the short story.
KAY RYAN, 2015
Kay Ryan is the sixteenth Poet Laureate of the United States (2008 – 2010) Her many honors include: the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Union League Poetry Prize, the Maurice English Poetry Award, a MacArthur “Genius Grant,” and the Fred Cody Award for Lifetime Achievement in Community and Literature.
JEFFREY EUGENIDES, 2014
Jeffrey Kent Eugenides is an American novelist and short story writer. He has written numerous short stories and essays, as well as three novels: The Virgin Suicides (1993), Middlesex (2002), and The Marriage Plot (2011). The Virgin Suicides served as the basis of a feature film, while Middlesex received the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in addition to being a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the International Dublin Literary Award, and France's Prix Médicis.
ADDITIONAL PAST ANNUAL MERRILL LECTURERS
ANNE FADIMAN, 2013
Anne Fadiman, Author, Essayist, Editor and Teacher.
HELEN VENDLER, 2012
Wallace Stevens: Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction
Helen Vendler, professor of English at Harvard University presents, “Wallace Stevens: Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.”
EDMUND WHITE, 2011
A Story of Friendship Presented by Edmund White, Novelist, Memoirist, Biographer, and Professor of Creative Writing at Princeton University.
ALAN GURGANUS, 2010
Fate of a Left-Handed Faith Healer
Alan Gurganus, Novelist, Short Story Writer, and Essayist, reads from his new novel, Fate of a Left-Handed Faith Healer.
RICK MOODY, 2009
The Four Fingers of Death Author Rick Moody reads from his new novel, The Four Fingers of Death.
BONNIE COSTELLO, 2008
"Lyric Poetry and the First Person Plural: The Example of Elizabeth Bishop" presented by Bonnie Costello, Professor of English at Boston University, Author and Critic.
RACHEL HADAS, 2007
From Stage Set to Heirloom: Greece in the Work of James Merrill presented by Rachel Hadas, Board of Governors & Professor of English at Rutgers University, Poet, Essayist and Translator.
JOHN HOLLANDER, 2006
The Hour Glass and the Mirror: James Merrill and His Poetry as First Encountered Presented by John Hollander, Professor Emeritus of English at Yale University, Poet and Author.
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