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Kimberly Thompson, program coordinator, Ethics in Society Program: (650) 723-0997,

John Sanford, writer, News Service: (650) 736-2151, jsanford@stanford

Dorothy Allison to speak as Tanner Lecturer at Stanford

Dorothy Allison, the award-winning author of Bastard Out of Carolina and Cavedweller, will speak at Stanford May 14-16 as part of the 2001 Tanner Lectures in Human Values.

On Monday, Allison will give a talk titled "Mean Stories and Stubborn Girls." Her lecture Tuesday is titled "What It Means to Be Free." Both events are scheduled for 5 p.m. in Kresge Auditorium.

On Wednesday, she will participate in a discussion seminar from 10 a.m. to noon in the Terrace Room (Room 426) of Margaret Jacks Hall. Katherine Newman, a professor of urban studies at Harvard, and Cherrie Moraga, a senior lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Stanford, will lead the discussion.

All three events are free and open to the public.

"The Tanner Lectures in Human Values are one of the most important venues for posing and responding to essential human questions," said Debra Satz, an associate professor of philosophy and chair of the lecture series' steering committee at Stanford. "Dorothy Allison examines the continuing legacies and hidden injuries of those who come from working-class families. What are the costs and benefits of upward mobility, especially when some we love are left behind? What is lost and what is gained? What is the price of individual freedom?"

Born in 1949 in Greenville, S.C., Allison now lives in Northern California, but her fictional landscapes largely reflect the rural South of her childhood. The title of her first novel, Bastard Out of Carolina (1992), hints at the tone of her writing and the place she's writing about the South of Flannery O'Connor devoid of antebellum sentiment.

The book is about a young girl growing up in Greenville County, where she must contend with her family's poverty and a sexually and physically abusive stepfather. It was a finalist for the National Book Award and won a Ferro-Grumley Award and a Bay Area Book Reviewers Association Award.

Her second novel, Cavedweller (1998), won a Lambda Literary Award for fiction. Skin: Talking About Sex, Class and Literature (1994), a collection of Allison's essays, speeches and performances pieces, won the 1995 American Library Association Gay and Lesbian Book Award. The Women Who Hate Me, a collection of her poetry, was first published in 1983; an expanded version was published in 1990. She also is the author of Trash (1988), a book of short stories, and an adaptation published in 1995 of her performance piece titled Two or Three Things I Know for Sure.

The Tanner Lectures were established in 1978 by Obert Clark Tanner, an industrialist, legal scholar and philosopher. In addition to the Stanford series, permanent lectureships, which include annual lectures and seminars, are established at the University of California, Harvard and Yale, among several other colleges and universities. The lectures aim to give scholars, intellectuals, scientists and political leaders a forum for discussing issues related to human values.


By John Sanford

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