2006 Distinguished Lecturer

Event Date: Nov 29, 2006
Event Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Glenn Miller Ballroom, UMC

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Annie Proulx presented the Center of the American West’s Distinguished Lecture at 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 29 in the Glenn Miller Ballroom at the University of Colorado at Boulder. The event was free and open to the public. A reception and book signing followed the lecture.

The CU-Boulder Center of the American West Distinguished Lecturers series features accomplished public figures presenting an original talk about the American West. The lecturers also meet with CU students and faculty, high school students, and community members. Previous lecturers include Terry Tempest Williams, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Sherman Alexie, and Alan and Pete Simpson.

Proulx is the author of The Shipping News and three other novels, That Old Ace in the HolePostcards, and Accordion Crimes, as well as the story collections Heart Songs and Close Range, which includes the story “Brokeback Mountain.” She also is the winner of a National Book Award, the Irish Times International Fiction Prize, two O. Henry Prizes, and a PEN/Faulkner, in addition to many others. She lives in Wyoming.

“Reading Annie Proulx’s work will turn the tide for people laboring under the belief that the West is either a happy, mythic locale quarantined from sorrow and consequence, or a melancholy region steeped in despair and defeat,” said History Professor Patty Limerick, Chair of the Board of the Center of the American West. “She reminds us, in prose as artful as it is direct, that the West’s complication and complexity are inseparable from its glory.”

Proulx began her career as a freelance journalist and started writing short stories for Gray’s Sporting Journal in the late 1970s. Her first book was Heart Songs and Other Stories, followed by Postcards, an across-the-country novel written largely while in residence at the Ucross Foundation in northern Wyoming. She resolved at that time to make Wyoming her permanent base when she could, a resolution she realized in 1994.

In 1988 she got the idea for The Shipping News within hours of landing at Port aux Basques in Newfoundland. Over the next two years she made ten trips to Newfoundland’s Great Northern Peninsula to do research for the book, although she wrote it in Wyoming.

In 1993-94 she traveled extensively in California, Minnesota, Montana, Wyoming, Quebec, Louisiana, and Texas, doing research for Accordion Crimes, a novel of immigrant lives and music in North America. But at every chance she had she took Wyoming as her subject, resulting in the collection of short stories, Close Range, published in 1999.

Her next book was the semi-comic novel That Old Ace in the Hole, largely concerned with the Texas panhandle, and then a second book of short stories, Bad Dirt, again set in Wyoming.

Proulx studied History at the University of Vermont, graduating cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a Master’s degree and passed her doctoral orals at Sir George Williams University (now Concordia) in Montreal. Her fields of study were Renaissance economic history, the Canadian north, and traditional China.

Proulx’s Nov. 29 talk was co-sponsored by the CU-Boulder English department.