Lectures

Lies That Tell the Truth: Story and History in the Novel

2013–2014 Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in the Arts and Humanities

Julie Orringer RI '14 will deliver this year's Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in Art and the Humanities.

This event is free and open to the public.


Statement by Julie Orringer:

I’ve long been interested in the ways writers interlace real events with fictional ones—how we study and transform the past for the purpose of writing stories and novels, and how tension among history, speculation, and pure invention can lend energy to a piece of work, both for the writer and the reader. I’ll speak specifically about my previous novel, The Invisible Bridge, which originated in family history, as well as the novel I’m working on at Radcliffe, The Flight Portfolio, whose protagonist is a historical figure. But I’ll also touch upon other novels that meld history with invention, like Philip Roth’s Plot Against America, Michael Chabon’s Yiddish Policeman’s Union, and Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex. My hope is to illuminate why we’re compelled to be faithful to the past even as we transform it, and how those transformations can bring to light stories that might otherwise not be told. 

The Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in the Arts and Humanities was established to honor the late Julia S. Phelps, longtime instructor in the Radcliffe Seminars, and is supported by the generous contributions of her family, friends, and colleagues.