Levy Lecture speaker will explore famous poet’s work
A renowned professor, internationally recognized as an authority on modern and contemporary poetry, will speak at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Flora Levy Lecture Series on March 16.
George Lensing, Ph.D., a professor emeritus from the University of North Carolina, is giving his lecture, “Transcendence in the Poetry of Wallace Stevens,” in Oliver Hall 112 at 7 p.m.
“Lensing argues that Stevens’s life constitutes a brilliant union of vocation and avocation,” said Maurice DuQuesnay, Ph.D., director of the Flora Plonsky Levy Lecture Series.
He added Stevens is considered to be the greatest American poet of the 20th century.
Joan Stear, an English professor at UL Lafayette, said Lensing will discuss “Credences in Summer,” one of Stevens’ later poems, as an assimilation of mystical theology.
The Flora Levy Lecture Series was founded by the late Flora Plonsky Levy. DuQuesnay, said the lectures have one purpose: to invite thinkers, novelists, poets, critics and scientists whose work “bears the impress” of the traditional humanities.
Stevens’ poetry had themes of family, religion and society related to issues of his time. He converted to Catholicism after a lifelong struggle with believing in something transcendent.
DuQuesnay explained critics have interpreted Stevens’ poetry as a celebration of a world freed from the religious tradition in which he was reared.
“Lensing sees him as a poet struggling in the deepest dialogue with the writings of Aristotle, Plato, Aquinas, Locke, Darwin, Marx and Freud,” DuQuesnay said.
He announced there will be two cash awards following the lecture: one for the best undergraduate summary or evaluation of the event and one for the best graduate level critique of Lensing’s lecture. Each award is $100, and students have two weeks to submit their essays.
Essays can be submitted to the English Department in H.L. Griffin Hall 221.
“The Flora Levy Committee asks that teachers select, at most, three of the best-written essays of the class submissions to submit to the committee members,” Stear clarified.
Undergraduate essays will be a summary of the lecture with a final paragraph evaluating the lecture itself and should be no more than 400 words. Graduate essays will be an evaluative commentary on the lecture and should be no more than 800 words.
Contest questions can be sent to Stear at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading “Levy Spring Lecture 2017.”
The Flora Levy Lecture has been hosted at UL Lafayette for 32 years, and past speakers include Isaac Bashevis Singer, Walker Percy, Robert Coles, Sophie Freud and Bruno Bettelheim.
DuQuesnay said it was started to allow speakers to “share with the university and the public at large their most original thinking as of the hour.”