Joseph BoydenThe Dean of FASS and the English Department are delighted to announce that the 2015-16 Munro Beattie lecture will be delivered by internationally acclaimed novelist Joseph Boyden. After shooting to literary fame with his first novel, Three Day Road, Boyden won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his second, Through Black Spruce. His most recent novel, The Orenda, was nominated for both the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award, and was the winning title on CBC Radio’s Canada Reads competition in 2014.

Born in Willowdale, Ontario, Boyden studied creative writing at York University and subsquently worked at Northern College in Moosonee, travelling by bush plane and Ski-Doo along the west coast of James Bay, teaching general arts and sciences to Native students working toward university degrees. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of New Orleans (where he teaches today), he now divides his time between Louisiana and Northern Ontario.

Boyden’s fiction focuses on the historical and contemporary experiences of Ontario First Nations peoples. Three Day Road tells the story of two Native men, Xavier Bird and Elijah Weesageechak, who fight with the Canadian army in the First World War, and foregrounds a perspective often ignored in Canadian accounts of that conflict. Through Black Spruce continues to chronicle the Bird family into contemporary Canada by telling the story of Will Bird, a bush pilot who lies unconscious in a Northern Ontario hospital. Set in the 17th century, The Orenda explores the devastating effects of European colonization on aboriginal peoples by narrating the story of the dispersal of the Wendat people through the perspectives of Bird, a Wendat warrior and statesman, the Haudenosaunee captive he adopts as his daughter, and a charismatic Jesuit missionary.

With a background that is mostly Irish-Catholic but also includes some Métis and Micmac ancestry, Boyden has said that he identifies with an Anishnabe sense of humanity’s debt to, rather than its domination of, the environment, and this comes across in all of his work. As a character in The Orenda puts it, “there is nothing in this world that needs us for its survival. We aren’t the masters of the earth. We’re the servants” (163).

Known as a highly engaging public speaker, Boyden’s talk at Carleton will focus on his journey as an artist and his reflections on the creative process.

The Munro Beattie Lecture

The Munro Beattie Lecture was launched in 1985 to honour the department’s founding chair and his contributions to literary studies in Canada.

An important principle of the lecture series has been to invite writers and critics who can speak on issues of importance to the general public, as well as the academic world. The first lecture was given by Munro’s friend and colleague, Eli Mandel, and the second by Northrop Frye. Since then the series has been an important annual event at Carleton, sponsoring a challenging group of literary critics and creative writers, including George Elliott Clarke, Eleanor Wachtel, Alistair MacLeod, Adam Gopnik, Paul Muldoon, Eden Robinson, and Lynn Coady.

Munro Beattie Lecture featuring Joseph Boyden
Wednesday, October 21, 2015, 7: 00 pm
Kailash Mital Theatre, Carleton University
This is a free public lecture; all are welcome
A free reception will follow the talk

Thursday, September 24, 2015 in , ,
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