The Department of Literature, in cooperation with American Corner Manila, invites the public to Two lectures by Robin Hemley, 04 February 2014, Tuesday, at The Learning Commons, 13/F, Henry Sy, Sr. Hall. “Memoir or Fiction? The tough choices and responsibilities when writing from life” will be at 2:40 – 4:10 PM, and “Painful Howls From Places That Undoubtedly Exist: A brief history of the Fake Memoir, and a discussion of authenticity and artifice” will be at 4:20 – 5:50 PM
Abstract: In this lecture, Robin Hemley will give an overview of recent and not-so-recent controversies over supposedly true life accounts that turned out to be, under closer examination, largely fabricated. While it’s bad faith to lie to the reader about the large events of one’s life or identity, part of the blame has to be borne by an all-too-often gullible public, ready to believe the most outlandish stories simply because writers have sworn they were true. Shouldn’t we approach all “true” stories with a healthy dose of skepticism? What happens when a story formerly understood to be true, is unmasked as a bald lie? Do we necessarily say that the story has no more merit? What about Untrue True Stories that are nonetheless beautifully written? And where does fiction fit into this mix. Do we condemn a writer who writes fiction that is supposedly autobiographical but turns out not to be so? Why should the identity of a writer of fiction matter if his/her stories are convincing and moving? Doesn’t this devalue the role of the imagination in literature?
Robin Hemley is the author of ten books of fiction and nonfiction and the winner of many awards for his work, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. His writing has appeared in journals and anthologies around the world. He’s currently working on a novel set in the Philippines and is the author of INVENTED EDEN: THE ELUSIVE, DISPUTED HISTORY OF THE TASADAY (Anvil) that the BBC is making into a feature film. From 2004-2013, he was director of the Nonfiction Writing Program at The University of Iowa and he currently directs the writing program and is writer-in-residence at Yale-NUS College in Singapore.
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