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KU News Release

September 15, 2005
Contact: David Dewar, KU Humanities and Western Civilization, (785) 864-3013

New Yorker film critic, classics professor to celebrate Western Civ's 60th at KU

LAWRENCE -- To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Humanities and Western Civilization program at the University of Kansas, David Denby, author and film critic for The New Yorker magazine, and Stanley Lombardo, KU professor of classics, will give a public lecture and a dramatic reading.

Denby will speak at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28 in Woodruff Auditorium of the Kansas Union on "Reading Great Books in a Modern World." Denby's books include "Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World." Denby will be signing books at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28 at the Oread Books in the union.

Lombardo will give a dramatic reading from his new translation of "The Aeneid" at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 30, in the Hall Center for the Humanities. Both events are free.

"Denby's visit is appropriate for KU's celebration because "Great Books" is about his experience of attending Columbia University's famous great books program 30 years after he had been a freshman there," said James Woelfel, director of KU's Humanities and Western Civilization program.

The Columbia program includes a selection of Western literary classics and important texts in Western philosophical and social-theoretical thought. KU and Columbia share the distinction of requiring similar great books courses for all graduates within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Denby's "Great Books" was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1996. A new edition is being issued this year. He has been a staff writer with The New Yorker since 1998 and was film critic for New York magazine before that. His articles have also appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Review of Books and The New Republic.

Woelfel said it is fitting too that Lombardo perform from his latest work of translation during the 60th anniversary. Lombardo's translations have won awards and he is widely recognized for his dramatic readings of his work in his KU classes and on campuses nationally as well as on National Public Radio and C-SPAN. He is recording his translations of Homer's "Iliad" and "The Odyssey" for Parmenides Publishing.

Lombardo's translations of the Iliad won the Byron Caldwell Smith Book Award and of Hesiod's "Works and Days and Theogeny," won a National Translation Center Award. At KU, Lombardo teaches Greek and Latin at all levels, along with courses in classical mythology and Greek literature and culture. A recording of Lombardo reading from the Iliad in ancient Greek can be heard online: wiredforbooks.org/iliad.

KU's Western Civilization program began Sept. 24, 1945. Sponsors for the anniversary lectures are: the KU Humanities and Western Civilization Program, the Chancellor's Office, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Hall Center for the Humanities, the theatre and film department and the journalism school.

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