Department of English

Buckner Lecture Series

Free and Open to the Public

Thanks to the continuing generosity of Mr. Charles F. Green, III, The Buckner Lecture Series was established to fund bringing the most distinguished writers, speakers, and artists of our generation to UNCW as guests. The lecture series is named in honor of Mr. Green's friend, Katherine K. Buckner.


Previous Speakers

Over the past 15 years, this program has brought the most thought-provoking speakers in the country to our campus. Here is a sampling of who has come here:


Carl Link

Eric Carl Link, author of Understanding Philip K. Dick and co-editor of the Cambridge History of Science Fiction and The Cambridge Companion to American Science Fiction, and many other books was the Buckner Lecture speaker for spring 2019. His illustrated talk, “Understanding Science Fiction,” introduced audiences to the field of science fiction film and literature. During his talk, Dr. Link answered the question what is science fiction? and talked about the language of science fiction and the impact of contemporary techno-philosophical ideas on modern science fiction as expressed through many of the most common science fiction plot structures. 


Steven Frye is Professor and Chair of English at California State University, Bakersfield and President of the Cormac McCarthy Society. He is the author of Understanding Cormac McCarthy and Understanding Larry McMurtry, as well as editor of The Cambridge Companion to Cormac McCarthy and The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of the American West. He visited UNCW in October 2017 and gave a talk titled “Apocalyptic Vision and the Geography of Hope in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.


Daniel Cross Turner talks on Daniel Cross Turner, writer, editor, scholar, and professor at Coastal Carolina University, gave an author's talk and Q&A entitled "The Undead South," in April.

Turner is the author of Southern Crossings: Poetry, Memory, and the Transcultural South. His new scholarly book, Regions of the Dead: Resurrecting Death in Contemporary Southern Literature is under contract to be published by the University of Tennessee Press. Turner co-edited Undead Souths: The Gothic and Beyond in Southern Literature and Culture, as well as Hard Lines: Rough South Poetry, and he has published more than 20 essays in scholarly, academic, and creative writing journals.

Anthony Cuda, writer, editor and scholar, gave a presentation on modernist literature and poetry in March.

His presentation - "How to Make Modernism Young Again: Randall Jarrell, T.S. Eliot, and the Eliot Girls" - will explore how Jarrell, a celebrated poet and professor in Greensboro, became one of the most influential critics of the postwar era while struggling for years with a major essay on T.S. Eliot that he would never finish. Cuda argues that Jarrell's deep exploration of Eliot became crucial to the poet-critic's own creative vision of moving beyond tradition to make modernism young again.

Cuda is the author of The Passions of Modernism: Eliot, Yeats, Woolf, and Mann (2010). He co-edited of The Complete Prose of T.S. Eliot, The Critical Edition Vol. 2: The Perfect Critic, 1919-1926 (2014), which won the Modernist Studies Association Book Prize in 2015. His reviews of poetry have appeared in Washington Post Book World, The New Criterion, FIELD Magazine and other publications. Cuda, an associate professor of English at UNCG, teaches courses in modern poetry and modernist literature.


Jill McCorkle is the author of six novels and four story collections. Her Jill McCorkle read from her books. Contributed photowork appears in numerous periodicals, and four of her short stories have been selected for the Best American Short Stories series. Five of McCorkle's books have been named The New York Times notable books. She has received the New England Booksellers Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Excellence in Literature and the North Carolina Award for Literature. She read from her books in November.


Nikky Finney has written four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Nikky Finney - Contributed photoGauze (1985). She is the John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Literature at the University of South Carolina, and she has also authored Heartwood (1997), edited The Ringing Ear:Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney's fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. She was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history.

Marianne Novy delivering the Fall 2014 Buckner Lecture. - Photo by Rory LavertyMarianne Novy, professor of English and Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, gave an author's talk and book signing as part of the Buckner Lecture Series at UNCW's Warwick Center in September 2014 with a reception and book signing afterwards.

Novy is the author of three scholarly books on women in relation to Shakespeare. She began with her book Love's Argument: Gender Relations in Shakespeare (1984), and has continued with Engaging with Shakespeare: On the Responses of George Eliot and Other Women Novelists (1994), and her most recent book is Shakespeare and Outsiders (2013).

From 2004-07 she was a trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America.

For more information about Novy's work, visit her faculty profile at .


Jean-Christophe Cloutier discovered a previously unknown Jean-Christophe Cloutiermanuscript by Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay, and talked about how he found the 1941 Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem in an archive at Columbia University. His talk was Sept. 19.



Lisa MooreLisa Moore, author of Poetry of Heroism: The Poetic Origins of Feminist Theory. She is Professor English and Women's and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.
Her talk was Monday, March 18.

Ann Hood's best-selling novels include Somewhere Off The Coast of Maine, The Knitting Circle and, most recently, The Red Thread. Hood has also written six other Ann Hoodnovels: Waiting To Vanish, Three-Legged Horse, Something Blue, Places To Stay The Night, The Properties of Water and Ruby.

Hood's best-selling memoir, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief, chronicled the death of her 5-year-old daughter, Grace, and her search for healing. It was named one of the top 10 nonfiction books of 2008 by Entertainment Weekly and was a New York Times Editor's Choice.

Hood has received the Paul Bowles Prize for Short Fiction, two Pushcart Prizes and a Best American Spiritual Writing Award. She is a faculty member in the MFA in Creative Writing program at The New School in New York City. She also teaches at New York University. Hood has also taught at the Eckerd College Writers' Conference, The Maui Writers' Conference,The Bread Load Writers' Conference, among others.




Cristina Garcia is the author of five novels: The Lady Matador's Hotel, A Handbook Cristina Garcia smiles at a question from the audience during her Buckner lecture in March 2012. UNCW Photo by Katherine Freshwaterto Luck, Monkey Hunting, The Agüero Sisters -- winner of the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize -- and Dreaming in Cuban. She was also a finalist for the National Book Award. Garcia has also edited two anthologies, written three works for young readers and published a collection of poetry, The Lesser Tragedy of Death in 2010.

Arnold Rampersad, the award-winning author of Ralph Ellison: A Biography. The author spoke about Ellison, the boundaries he pushed with the publication of Invisible Man in the 1950s and how the book's message and conflict are still relevant today.


Joyce Carol Oates

Joyce Carol Oates, recipient of the National Book Award and the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction, as well as the bestselling author of We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde (a finalist for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize), gave a reading to students, faculty and community members, followed by a question and answer session and a book signing.

Elaine Showalter, author of Toward a Feminist Poetics, The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture (1830-1980), Inventing Herself: Claiming a Feminist Intellectual Heritage and other works, presented a lecture entitled "Writing the History of American Women Writers."




Jeanne Campbell Reesman presented an illustrated lecture entitled "Jack London, Photographer," based on the more than 12,000 photographs the celebrated author of Call of the Wild took during his extensive travels.

Jimmie Killingsworth chats with a student as a part of his Buckner lecture. - Photo by Kathy RugoffJimmie Killingsworth, Professor and Head of the English Department at Texas A & M University and the the author or co-author of ten books, spoke about how animals are depicted in Walt Whitman's poetry, beginning with Henry David Thoreau's famous comment on reading Whitman's Leaves of Grass that "it is as if the beasts spoke."


Susan Cheever, author of American Bloomsbury, among Susan Cheever describes the complex relationships among the American Bloomsbury writers as a part of her Buckner lecture appearance. -- Photo by Kathy Rugoffnumerous other books, spoke on the group of socially and scandalously intertwined writers of Concord, Mass., in the mid-1800s: Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry David Thoreau.

Tina Gianquitto, Associate Professor in the Division of Liberal Arts and International Studies at the Colorado School of Mines and author of Good Observers of Nature: American Women and the Scientific Study of the Natural World, 1820-1885, gave a lecture entitled "Dangerous Liaisons: Darwin's Carnivorous Plants and the Language of Flowers," explaining how the sexually charged language of the Victorian Era found a home in the world of plants and flowers.


Azar Nafisi autographs her latest book after giving the Buckner lecture in the Lumina Theater. -- Photo by Kathy RugoffAzar Nafisi, author of Rereading Lolita in Teheran: A Memoir in Books spoke on "The Republic of the Imagination" and told about her bold act of secretly gathering seven of her most committed female students to read forbidden Western classics.

John Updike, author of 60 books over his lifetime, 7 volumes of poetry, and many other works, read from his poems and a short story that displayed his celebrated and finely tuned wit and eye for detail. His talk was to a capacity crowd in which he afterward answered questions from the audience.


John Schilb, Culbertson Chair of Writing and Associate Professor of English at Indiana University, is the editor of College English. His lecture, "Race, Nation, Memory, Refusal: Frederick Douglass Dedicates a Monument," explored the moment in which the celebrated black philosopher and political activist Frederic Douglass refused to unreservedly praise Abraham Lincoln at the unveiling of a statue depicting the president freeing a slave. Dr. Schilb coined the phrase "rhetorical refusal" to describe the verbal act of deliberately speaking counter to what the audience expects.

Cecelia Tichi, William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English at Vanderbilt University and author of eleven books on such varied topics as technology, the environment and traditions of social criticism in the United States. Her lecture, "Betting the House: The Home Front in Today's U.S. Fiction," focused on what today's writers have to tell us about home ownership in America. She was awarded the 2009 Hubbell Medal for Lifetime Achievement by the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association.


Ken Burns, described by The New York Times as the "most accomplished documentary filmmaker of his generation," spoke to a capacity crowd spoke about his work in film. Among his most notable films are Brooklyn Bridge (1981), the Academy Award-nominated documentary that showcases the bridge as a vital symbol of American culture; Baseball (1994), the most watched series in PBS history; and he was also the director, producer, co-writer, chief cinematographer, music director and executive producer of the landmark television series The Civil War (1990), which was the highest-rated series in the history of American public television and attracted an audience of forty million during its premiere in September 1990. Among other awards, Burns has won two Emmys, two Grammys, Producer of the Year Award from the Producer's Guild, People's Choice Award and many more.

Mary Ann Caws, Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature, English and French at the Graduate School of the City University of New York, discussed "Eccentric Women Writing and Painting." She is the author and editor of dozens of books and articles including her book Glorious Eccentrics: Modernist Women Painting and Writing, the story of seven extraordinary women of the late 19th and 20th century, each of whom influenced the modernist movement.

Paul John Eakin, Ruth N. Halls Professor of English Emeritus at Indiana University, and author of a number of books including Living Autobiographically: How We Create Identity in Narrative and How Our Lives Become Stories: Making Selves spoke about the art of creating the autobiography in a presentation entitled "Talking About Ourselves: Autobiography, Narrative Identity, and Everyday Life."


Susan Gubar, Distinguished Professor of English at the Indiana University, spoke on "In Rooms of Our Own." She is the author of The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th-Century Literary Imagination, which was a runner-up for both The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has written numerous books and articles, and her cultural biography of Judas, the 12fth apostle, was published in 2009. Judas was listed in Magill's Literary Annual as one of the best books of 2009.

Sorayya Khan, novelist and short story writer, presented "Silence and Forgetting in the War: The Story of Noor." She won a Malahat Review Novella Prize in 1995 for her novella, In the Shadows of the Margalla Hills, and was a Fulbright Creative Writing Scholar in Pakistan and Bangladesh in 1999-2000.

William D. Lutz, a lawyer and Professor of English at Rutgers University spoke on "Doublespeak, Public Discourse, and the Condition of the Body Politic." He was the head of the Committee on Public Doublespeak for 15 years and editor of the Quarterly Review of Doublespeak for 14 years. He is a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. His previous books include Doublespeak: From Revenue Enhancement to Terminal Living and The Cambridge Thesaurus of American English. Lutz has appeared on numerous television and radio programs to publicize the dangers of doublespeak, including Today, Larry King Live, The CBS Evening News, The MacNeil Lehrer NewsHour, and National Public Radio's Morning Edition.


Virginia Holman, author of Rescuing Patty Hearst: Gowing Up Sane in a Decade Gone Mad, talked on the subject of "When a Family Member is Psychotic: The Need for Early Intervention and Consistent Treatment." She has received numerous awards, including the Pushcart Prize, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Outstanding Literature Award, the New York Alliance on Mental Illness Literature Award, the Blumenthal Writer and Reader Award and many others. Holman has also published essays and articles in Redbook, Women's Health, Prevention, Glamour, Self and other magazines, as well as writing for newspapers such as The Washington Post, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Hartford Courant and numerous other publications.

Christopher Ricks, William M. and Sara B. Warren Professor of Humanities and Co-Director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including Dylan's Visions of Sin, Allusion to the Poets and Reviewery, and spoke on "Poetry and Pain."

Daniel Robb, Author of Crossing the Water: Eighteen Months on an Island Working With Troubled Boys -- A Teacher's Memoir, addressed the question: What makes it easy for most of us to obey the rules and what makes it almost impossible for others to do so? Robb is also the author of Sloop: Restoring My family's Wooden Sailboat--An Adventure in Old-Fashioned Values (2008).


Sara Suleri Goodyear, Professor of English at Yale University, lectured on "Reconstructing Postcolonial Memory: Gender's Parting of the Ways." Goodyear specializes in Romantic and Victorian poetry, as well as a having an interest in statesman, author, orator and political theorist Edmund Burke. She is a founding editor of The Yale Journal of Criticism and is on the editorial board The Yale Review.

Catherine Lutz, Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, lectured in "Making War at Home: War's Wages in Fayetteville, N.C." Since 2003 she has been Brown University's Thomas J. Watson, Jr. Family Professor of Anthropology and International Studies. She is co-director of the Costs of War research project based at the Providence, R.I., Watson Institute.


James Nagel, J. O. Eidson Distinguished Professor at the University of Georgia, lectured on "Hemingway: The True Story behind A Farewell to Arms." He is the co-author of Hemingway in Love and War: The Lost Diary of Agnes Von Kurowsky, the diary and letters of the Red Cross nurse Hemingway fell in love with while wounded in WWI. The nurse eventually jilted Hemingway, and he later killed off her character in Farewell.

Matthew Bruccoli, Professor of English at the University of South Carolina and dubbed by The Washington Post as "one the foremost scholars of author F. Scott Fitzgerald and other literary figures of the 1920s and '30s," lectured on "Writing About Writers: Experiences as a Literary Biographer." His 1981 biography of Fitzgerald, Some Sort of Epic Grandeur, depicted the troubled life of the author of The Great Gatsby, one of the novels that helped define the spirit of the Jazz Age.


Leverett T. Smith, curator of the Black Mountain College Collection is professor emeritus of English at North Carolina Wesleyan College and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. He is the author of The American Dream and the National Game and Michael Rumaker: Eroticizing The Nation: Black Mountain College Dossier #6.

Mark Boren, former visiting lecturer and now Associate Professor of English at UNCW, read from his book Student Resistance: A History of the Unruly Subject.

Janet Ellerby, Professor of English at UNCW, read from her book Intimate Reading: The Contemporary Women's Memoir.


Claudia Tate, Professor of English at Princeton University, lectured on "The Enigma of Black Femininity."

Charlotte Pierce-Baker, Professor at Duke University met with the Feminist Colloquium to examine her first book, Surviving the Silence: Black Women's Stories of Rape.

Alison Lurie, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Spring 1999 Visiting Writer-in- Residence, presented a reading. She won the Pulitzer for her 1984 novel Foreign Affairs. Lurie has also written numerous nonfiction books and articles, particularly on children's literature and the semiotics of dress.

Houston Baker, director of the Center for the Study of Black Literature and Culture at the University of Pennsylvania and a visiting lecturer at Duke University.

John Holman, novelist, short story writer and essayist, teaches at Georgia State University in Atlanta. His novel, Luminous Mysteries, was chosen by the Georgia Center for the Book for inclusion on the 2010 list of "25 Books All Georgians Should Read."

Tony Hillerman, author of 29 books, including the bestselling 17-book mystery series featuring Navajo police officers Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn,spoke on his writing. Hillerman has also written two non-series novels, two children's books and nonfiction. He has received every major honor for mystery fiction, including the Navajo Tribal Council's commendation, France 's esteemed Grand prix de litterature policiere and the prestigious Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Award. He was named one of mystery fiction's Grand Masters. In 2001, his memoir, Seldom Disappointed, won both the Anthony and Agatha Awards for best nonfiction.

Michael White, UNCW professor, and Dennis Sampson gave a poetry reading.


Clyde Edgerton, Visiting Distinguished Professor at UNCW, presented a reading with interludes of music.

Wendy Brenner, UNCW professor, whose 1996 book of stories, Large Animals in Everyday Life, won the Flannery O'Connor Award. She received the Henfield AWP Intro awards for her short stories. Her works have appeared in many journals, including Story and Mississippi Review.

Rebecca Lee, UNCW professor and winner of the Rona Jaffe Award for Fiction. Her short story, "The Banks of Vistula," was published in the Atlantic Monthly. This story was performed on National Public Radio's 1997 "Selected Shorts."

Jorie Graham, poet and author of seven volumes of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection The Dream of the Unified Field.



John Shelton Reed, Professor of Sociology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Author of Whistling Dixie and 1001 Things Everybody Should Know About the South.

Mark Strand, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of eight volumes of poetry and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Bollingen Prize. Strand was Poet Laureate of the United States, 1993-'94.

Philip Levine, poet and UNCW Visiting Writer-in-Residence. He has won two National Book Awards and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for The Simple Truth.

William McCranor Henderson, author of I, Elvis: Confessions of a Counterfeit King. He is also an acclaimed Elvis impersonator and, with his band, performed as Elvis.

Alice Fulton, poet and Visiting Writer-in-Residence. She is the author of Sensual Math. Fulton She is the author of several books and numerous magazine articles and received a MacArthur Fellowship.



W.O.S. Sutherland, Professor of English at the University of Texas-Austin. Recipient of the Press Associates' Teaching Award. He is the author of The Art of the Satirist.

David Bevington, Professor of English at University of Chicago. He is one of the world's foremost scholars on Shakespeare, has written or edited more than 30 books on the Elizabethan playwright and has received two Guggenheim Fellowships.



Kaye Gibbons, novelist and author of A Virtuous Woman and Ellen Foster, both selections for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club.



Jane Tompkins, Professor of English at Duke University. Author of West of Everything and A Life in School: What Teachers Learned.