Lawrence Weschler Named Remsen Bird Artist in Residence

Writer, critic and intellectual impresario Lawrence Weschler will be Occidental College’s Remsen Bird Artist in Residence this spring, offering a series of four public lectures beginning March 1, a four-  session mini-course on narrative non-fiction beginning April 13, and an all-day Wonder Cabinet on April 24.

All events are free and open to the public.

Described by novelist Dave Eggers as "one of the most deliriously entertaining writers alive," Weschler is director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU and concurrently artistic director of the Chicago Humanities Festival. For more than 20 years, he was a staff writer at The New Yorker. His books include Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder; A Miracle, A Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers; Vermeer in Bosnia; and Everything that Rises: A Book of Convergences (winner of the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism).

Weschler’s public lecture series, which will draw on topics he has explored in his books and in the pages of the New Yorker, begins March 1. Each of the four lectures will be delivered at 7 p.m. in the Jeffers Room on the main floor of Clapp Library.

  • Monday, March 1: All That is Solid: A Contribution to the Books vs. Web Debate
  • Monday, March 15: Serenity and Terror in Vermeer, and After
  • Wednesday, March 31: When Fountainheads Collide: On 30 Years of Ponging Between Robert Irwin and David Hockney
  • Wednesday, April 7: Marvel and the Jurassic: A Natural History of Wonder

Weschler also will be offering a four-session mini-course, Paradoxes of Form and Freedom in Narrative Nonfiction. "This will be a consideration of some of the fictive roots of the nonfictive enterprise," he says. "For example, what exactly is going on when the writer uncovers, or rather maybe imposes, order upon a chaotic reality that is in fact anything but? And how, in a world where everything happens exactly the way it had to (or it would have happened some other way), does that writer retain the sense (and fact) that as it was happening, everyone involved was free to act in any other way?"

Paradoxes of Form and Freedom will be offered on Tuesday, April 13, Thursday, April 15, Tuesday, April 20, and Thursday, April 22 from 5-6:30 p.m. in the Cushman Board Room of the Coons Administrative Center on the Occidental campus. Readings for the mini-course can be found here.

Weschler’s residency will culminate in the presentation of a day-long "Wonder Cabinet" on Saturday, April 24 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Occidental’s Thorne Hall -- "a full day of presentations," Weschler explains, each one more uncanny than the next, featuring a host of marvelous contributors, some famous, some not yet quite so, bridging the artificial divide between the arts and sciences." Tentatively confirmed presenters include magician Ricky Jay, Jurassic technologist David Wilson, celebrated film editor Walter Murch, documentarian Jessica Yu and artist Lauren Redniss. More details to follow.