CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
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Folsom to combine Whitman, representation, democracy, and art in
1998 Presidential Lecture
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa English Professor Ed Folsom will
present the 15th annual UI Presidential Lecture, "What do we represent?
Walt Whitman, representative democracy, and democratic representation,"
at 3 p.m. Feb. 15 in Clapp Recital Hall.
Folsom said he will celebrate the occasion of the lecture's 15th anniversary
by taking a brief look back at those who have stood at the podium before
him, especially Sherman Paul, the first Presidential Lecturer, who died
"All 15 presidential lecturers are either still teaching at the
University or became emeriti professors here," Folsom said. "That
says something about the community--that it nurtures loyalty in long careers."
Former UI president James Freedman initiated the annual lecture in 1984
to provide a public showcase for university scholarship, research, and
creative achievement. Folsom said he will discuss representation from an
artistic as well as political perspective in order to provide the cross-disciplinary
tone that Freedman originally intended for the Presidential Lecture.
"This is an era in which we all think about representation,"
Folsom said. "How do we represent people and ideas? What does the
university represent? Is the university representative? Back in the 19th
century Whitman could never separate the political and artistic aspects
of representation. The solution Whitman developed was to create a poetry
-- a democratic voice -- that was representative of the diversity of the
Folsom's presentation will begin with a reading of the Whitman poem
"So Long?" by UI Writers' Workshop faculty member Jorie Graham,
a Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet. Pianist Uriel Tsachor, an associate professor
of music at the UI, will play a musical interpretation of the poem that
was written by Los Angeles composer Robert Strassburg.
"I hope not only to talk about community, but with these colleagues
to enact a sense of community as well as demonstrate what it is like to
be surrounded by so many incredible scholars, artists, and friends within
the university," Folsom said.
Folsom, an internationally recognized Whitman scholar, joined the UI
English department in 1976 and served as its chair from 1991-1995. He was
named F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of English in 1997 and
won a Regents' Award for Faculty Excellence in 1996. Folsom has been editor
of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review since 1983.
Folsom was selected as the 1998 Presidential Lecturer by the Presidential
Lecture Selection Committee, a faculty committee that reviews the nominations
and recommends its choice to UI President Mary Sue Coleman. The committee
is chaired by Leslie Sims, dean of the Graduate College.