Ernest Hemingway in Chicago: A Public Lecture

Ernest Hemingway to Sherwood Anderson, 1922; Midwest MS Anderson
Ernest Hemingway to Sherwood Anderson, 1922; Midwest MS Anderson

A public lecture by Scholl Center Director Liesl Olson, December 11, 2012 at the Newberry’s Ruggles Hall, 6pm.

As some of you may know, the Newberry is currently celebrating its quasquicentennial; or, it’s 125th Anniversary. We’ve been celebrating since September actually, with a ceremonial opening of the Newberry’s massive wooden doors on the day the library first opened 125 years ago. There is also an ongoing exhibit show caseing 125 of the Newberry’s best items, as well as a special exhibit on the library’s institutional history. You can follow all of the quasquicentennial conviviality over at the anniversary’s blog.

Next week, Scholl Center Director Liesl Olson will give a public lecture as part of these ongoing celebrations. The talk is the third in a Exhibition Lecture Series that expand upon a single item in the “Newberry 125” exhibit. Olson’s talk is titled “Ernest Hemingway in Chicago,” and will consider how Hemingway’s year-long residency in the city shaped the way he wrote. We’ve blogged about Hemingway’s time here on Origins in Chicago before. But Olson’s talk will offer a complete treatment of the Windy City’s centrality to this icon of literary modernism. Here’s a taste of the talk’s highlights:

Much has been made of Ernest Hemingway’s expatriate experience in Paris and Spain—but what of the formative years he spent in Chicago in the early 1920s and his relationship with influential Chicago journalist Fanny Butcher? According to Liesl Olson, Director of the Dr.William M. Scholl Center for American History and Culture, Chicago was not only where Hemingway published his first mature writing; it exemplified the contradictions that defined the entire modernist literary movement. Committed to trade, progress, and industrialization, Chicago nevertheless stood in the shadow of the 1893 World’s Fair, which advanced neoclassical ideals. Similarly, modernist writers searched for new aesthetic forms of expression while harboring nostalgia for what had been lost. Hemingway harbored more than nostalgia, however. After Fanny Butcher’s scathing review of The Sun Also Rises in 1926, he would come to rely on, and consciously address, conservative readers with Victorian sensibilities who would register the shock he meant his writing to elicit.

The lecture is free and open to the public, and registration is not required. The talk will be held in the Newberry’s Ruggles Hall on Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 6pm. 

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