Footnotes - Dept of English Newsletter for Students UWG Home Page

Spring 2004 Edition
Volume 5, Number 1

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Wally Lamb Visits UWG

When referring to his "mission" as a teacher, author Wally Lamb explains that his job is "to ignite fires in the eyeballs of undergraduates and then stand back and watch the learning happen." Instructors in the First-Year Writing Program, active participants in the Shared Text Lecture Series, share this mission as they teach Lamb's Couldn't Keep It to Myself in English 1101 and She's Come Undone in English 1102.

In Couldn't Keep It To Myself, Lamb introduces his readers to a group of women at York Correctional Institution who, through the process of writing, "let down their guard, picked up their pens, and discovered their voices." In short nonfiction narratives, these women describe abuse, rejection, and neglect and also demonstrate their abilities to come to terms with these events and begin anew the process of constructing their lives. In She's Come Undone, Lamb details the similar fictional life of Dolores Price, a young woman who has undergone abuse, abandonment, and pain on many levels and who, in the end, finds a way to "undo" some of the bad by realizing that "Love [for herself and for others] is like breathing. You take it in and let it out" (462).

On Thursday, October 23, Lamb brought together these two powerful and intricately intertwined texts for two sessions at the Townsend Center for Performing Arts--one at 11:00 a.m. and one at 8:00 p.m. This free event allowed 1101 and 1102 students, as well as others, an excellent opportunity to experience the full intended effect of the Shared Text Lecture Series--to allow the intellectual and emotional exchange between writer and student that demonstrates, as no other experience can, practical and artistic benefits inherent in the study of effective writing.

Lamb also met with both students and faculty interested in creative writing in the conference room in the Dean's offices in the College of Arts and Sciences at 2:30 p.m. on the afternoon of his visit. During that session aspiring writers were able to ask questions about Lamb's career, which includes two appearances on Oprah Winfrey's book club, and his own creative process as well as to seek his informal advice about their work.

Students from 1101 and 1102 with outstanding essay submissions accompanied Lamb to lunch at Pearl's Café in downtown Carrollton, and members of the Advanced Academy treated the visiting author to dinner at Z-6. Students from the Advanced Academy also introduced Lamb at each of his readings in the Townsend Center.

Lamb's visit was made possible through generous support provided by the Honors College and the Advanced Academy of Georgia, the College of Arts and Sciences, the EXCEL Center, the vice presidents for Student Services and Academic Affairs, and the English Department. The success of the event was due in large measure to the generosity of these supporters and to the hard work and planning of Patricia Reinhard and Brandy James, co-directors of First-Year Writing, who arranged and executed the visit.

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Last updated April 17, 2004