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Philosopher and literary critic Martin Puchner will deliver the 2013 Mary Stevens Reckford Memorial Lecture in European Studies February 21 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The talk will be the 19th annual Reckford Lecture presented by the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

Puchner, the Byron and Anita Wien Professor of Drama and English and comparative literature at Harvard University, will give the free public talk entitled “Theater and Philosophy: Socrates on the Modern Stage” at 7:30 pm in Gerrard Hall. A Q&A session, reception and book signing will follow the lecture.

This year’s Reckford Lecture is one of many events taking place on campus as part of The Rite of Spring at 100, a year-long initiative and collaboration between the Institute and Carolina Performing Arts. In his talk, Puchner will examine how The Rite of Spring exemplifies a form of European modernism based on ritual, primitivism and the body, and he will confront it with a tradition of modern theater focused on the drama of ideas and the combination of theater and philosophy.

In addition to the lecture, Puchner will participate in a discussion on historical avant-gardes and futurism, drawing specifically from his book Poetry of the Revolution. This forum will take place on February 21 from 4-5:30 pm in the Hyde Hall University Room and is also free and open to the public.

Puchner’s writing and research focuses on world literature, drama, modernism and philosophy. He is the founding director of the Mellon School of Theater and Performance Research at Harvard University and is the general editor of the Norton Anthology of Drama (2009), the Norton Anthology of World Literature (2012) and the Norton Anthology of Western Literature (2013).

His publications include Stage Fright: Modernism, Anti-Theatricality, and Drama (Hopkins, 2002); Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes (Princeton, 2006), for which he won the MLA’s James Russell Lowell Award; and The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), winner of the Joe A. Callaway Prize and the Water Channing Cabot Prize. His essays and reviews have been published in The London Review of Books, Raritan Review, N+1, Yale Journal of Criticism, The Drama Review, The Journal of the History of Ideas, New Literary History, Theatre Research International, and Theatre Journal, among others.

The annual Reckford Lecture in European Studies is designed to appeal to a broad public by introducing a general audience to the study of modern and historical Europe through a humanistic lens. UNC classics professor emeritus Kenneth J. Reckford established the lecture in 1990 to honor his late wife, Mary Stevens Reckford, and speakers are asked to provide “pleasure, instruction, an interdisciplinary approach and a sense of shared humanity.”

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