KU News Release

October 1, 2012
Contact: Victor Bailey, Hall Center for the Humanities, 785-864-7822

NPR best-selling author Sarah Vowell to speak in Humanities Lecture Series

Sarah Vowell

LAWRENCE—Sarah Vowell, former NPR contributor and author of six best-selling books on American history and culture, will speak at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the Woodruff Auditorium in the Kansas Union. Her lecture, "An Evening with Sarah Vowell,” is part of the Hall Center for the Humanities' 2012-2013 Humanities Lecture Series. The event is free and open to the public.

Vowell’s most recent book, “Unfamiliar Fishes” (2011) is the history of Hawaii, annexed in 1898. Replete with a cast of beguiling characters, including a Hawaiian queen, whalers, missionaries, sugar barons, Teddy Roosevelt and assorted con men, “Unfamiliar Fishes” is another history lesson in Americana as only Vowell can tell it.

By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of everything from presidents and their assassins to colonial religious fanatics, as well as thoughts on American Indians, utopian dreamers, pop music and the odd cranky cartographer.

Vowell was a contributing editor for Public Radio International’s “This American Life” from 1996 to 2008, where she produced commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program’s live shows. She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows.

She has been a columnist for Salon.com, Time and San Francisco Weekly and continues to write essays for the opinion page of The New York Times. Vowell has also made appearances on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” She is the voice of Violet Parr in “The Incredibles,” a Pixar Animation Studios film.

Founded in 1947, the Humanities Lecture Series is the oldest continuing series at KU. More than 150 eminent scholars from around the world have participated in the program, including author Salman Rushdie, poet Gwendolyn Brooks and evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins. Recent speakers have included Henry Louis Gates Jr., Mary Oliver and T.R. Reid. Shortly after the program’s inception, a lecture by one outstanding KU faculty member was added to the schedule. For information on other lectures in the 2012-2013 series, visit the Hall Center website.

The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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