The Sacrament of Self: Catholic Roots of Contemporary Memoir

Submitted by Genevieve Bleidner '13 on November 9, 2009

news_cas_hampl_09On Wednesday, October 28 at 8:00 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room, Fairfield University hosted award-winning author Patricia Hampl for its fourth annual Catholicism and the Arts Lecture. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, among other awards, and is a Professor at the University of Minnesota.

This event was Hampl’s second visit to our campus, and was highly successful with a large turnout from students and faculty as well as members of the community. Her talk was entitled “Sacrament of Self: Catholic Roots of Contemporary Memoir.”

The author, who hails from Minnesota, has an autobiographical writing style that often reflects on her Catholicism. Some of her works include A Romantic Education and The Florist’s Daughter. Her speech was an exploration of the memoir – a growing genre of writing that often asks important questions about life through experience and fact.

news_cas_hampl2_09One of the most important issues raised in memoir that Ms. Hampl reflected upon in her talk was the search for self in writing, and the use of self as a lens when writing an autobiography. Soul-searching was one of the main themes of Patricia’s speech, and she was able to intertwine the history of the memoir and her own background as a writer in order to weave the audience a story that brought the search of self, the soul, religion, and history into the foreground of our minds.

The speech and following audience questions and book signing was insightful and engaging, and Fairfield looks forward to welcoming Ms. Hampl on campus again in the future.

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