‘Fresh Air’ book critic Corrigan to open week by looking at history, modern literary trends


Week Five’s Chatuauqua Lecture Series platform wrapped with Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden laying out the importance of libraries in a community’s civic infrastructure, and the threats they face as book bans spread across the country. Book bans are nothing new ­— a recent streaming series from Wondrium takes a look the centuries-old controversy. “Banned Books, Burned Books: Forbidden Literary Works” takes viewers through some of the most challenged works of literature, from Shakespeare to contemporary bestsellers. 

There may be no better person to examine such trends as Maureen Corrigan, who has spent her career at the nexus of the classical and the contemporary. And there may be no better person to open Week Six of the Chautauqua Lecture Series on “A Life of Literature” than the longtime book critic on NPR’s Peabody Award-winning “Fresh Air.” At 10:45 a.m. today in the Amphitheater, Corrigan will frame a week of discussions by tracing literary trends and assessing the current state of literature. One of America’s most respected book critics with a distinctive voice at once incisive and accessible, Corrigan is The Nicky and Jamie Grant Distinguished Professor of the Practice in Literary Criticism in the Department of English at Georgetown University.

She is also the author of the memoir Leave Me Alone, I’m Reading, and So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures. Her Great Course/Wondrium course was released this past spring.

“Books are powerful. That’s the central idea that over 400 years of book banning affirms,” Corrigan said in a press release from Wondrium. “And, ironically, for some books, the best thing that’s ever happened to them — in terms of popularity and cultural status — is that someone has tried to ban them.”

Corrigan is an associate editor of and contributor to Mystery and Suspense Writers, which won the 1999 Edgar Award for Criticism, presented by the Mystery Writers of America; the winner of the 2018 Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, from the National Book Critics Circle; a juror and panel head for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for two consecutive years; and was a juror for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. She served as a curator and continues to serve as an Advisory Board member and video exhibit guide for the American Writers Museum in Chicago, advisor to the National Endowment for the Arts’ ”Big Read” Project, and on The Usage Panel of The American Heritage Dictionary. 


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