The Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation, in cooperation with Brigham Young University, St. Lawrence University, the University of Paris 3 (Sorbonne Nouvelle), and the University of Provence at Aix, announces the 11th International Willa Cather Seminar. It will be held 24-30 June 2007 in Paris and at the Abbey St-Michel de Frigolet. The Abbey is located in Tarascon in the south of France, midway between Avignon and Arles.
A committed Francophile, Cather first visited France in 1902 and returned for long stays many times throughout her life. Her companion and biographer Edith Lewis explains that "French culture, coming to it as [Cather] did in her most impressionable years, . . . spoke more directly to her imagination [than English culture], and most definitely influenced her writing." Cather and Lewis spent the summer of 1920 in the Latin Quarter of Paris in order to imagine living in the Middle Ages, an experience that affected Cather's subsequent novels.
"A Writer's Worlds" has been chosen as the seminar theme to encourage broad explorations of Cather's various imaginative intersections--biographical, geographical, historical, philosophical, literary, social, and others. Cather's works as seen from a European perspective will be a particular emphasis. Given this, the keynote speakers are A. S. Byatt, the Booker Prize-winning novelist and author of introductions to Cather’s works in Virago Editions, and Marc Chénetier (University of Paris 7), whose well-regarded work on American Literature includes translations of most of Cather's novels into French.
In Paris, seminar sessions will focus on sites in the city that Cather drew upon, most especially for Death Comes for the Archbishop and Shadows on the Rock. Most seminar sessions will be held at the Abbey, to which seminarians will travel on Tuesday, 27 June. From there, excursions will depart to places in Provence related to Cather's writing, including Avignon, where Cather set "Hard Punishments," the novella she left unfinished at her death.
The seminar will be codirected by John J. Murphy (Brigham Young University), Francoise Palleau-Papin (University of Paris 3--Sorbonne Nouvelle), and Robert Thacker (St. Lawrence University).
Due to a capacity limit, early response is encouraged. Seminar information will be updated periodically on our websites.
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