Harry Ransom Center Presents the Harry Ransom Lectures

Jan. 12, 2009

Event: The Harry Ransom Center presents playwright and filmmaker David Mamet, artist Ed Ruscha, British novelist Barry Unsworth and writer Azar Nafisi for the inaugural Harry Ransom Lectures in spring 2009.

When: Various dates throughout spring 2009

Where: Various locations on The University of Texas at Austin campus

Background: The Harry Ransom Lectures honor former University of Texas Chancellor Harry Ransom and highlight the Ransom Center's vital role in the university's intellectual and cultural life. The program brings internationally renowned writers, artists and scholars to Austin for public events and conversations with students. The lectures are made possible by the support of the University Co-operative Society.

Barry Unsworth
Jan. 26, 7 p.m.
Prothro Theater, Harry Ransom Center

Unsworth is a celebrated novelist who won the Booker Prize for "Sacred Hunger," a novel about the 18th-century slave trade that is widely considered his masterpiece. Unsworth was a Booker Prize finalist for "Morality Play" and "Pascali's Island," which was adapted into the acclaimed film starring Ben Kingsley and Helen Mirren. He was nominated for the Booker Prize for "The Ruby in Her Navel." His other works include "The Songs of the Kings," "After Hannibal" and "Losing Nelson." He lives in Italy. Unsworth's papers are housed at the Ransom Center.

David Mamet
Feb. 5, 7 p.m.
Texas Union Theatre

Mamet is the author of the plays "Romance," "Boston Marriage," "Oleanna," "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1984 Pulitzer Prize), "American Buffalo," "The Old Neighborhood," "A Life in the Theatre," "Speed-the-Plow," "Sexual Perversity in Chicago," "Reunion and The Cryptogram" (1995 Obie Award) and "November." His films include "The Postman Always Rings Twice," "The Verdict," "The Untouchables," "House of Games" (writer/director), "Oleanna" (writer/director)," Homicide" (writer/director), "The Spanish Prisoner" (writer/director), "Hoffa," "The Edge," "Wag the Dog," "The Winslow Boy" (writer/director), "Hannibal," "State and Main" (writer/director) and "Heist" (writer/director). His most recent books include the acting books, "True and False" and "Three Uses of the Knife," and "Bambi vs. Godzilla: On the Nature Purpose and Practice of the Movie Business." His film "Redbelt" premiered in spring 2008. Mamet's papers are housed the Ransom Center and will be available for research in spring 2009.

Azar Nafisi
March 12, 7 p.m.
AT&T Conference Center Amphitheatre

1900 University Ave.

Nafisi is best known as the author of the national bestseller "Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books," a portrait of the Islamic revolution in Iran and how it affected one university professor and her students. "Reading Lolita in Tehran" is an incisive exploration of the transformative powers of fiction in a world of tyranny. Nafisi is the director of the Dialogue Project at the Foreign Policy Institute of Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, where she is a professor of aesthetics, culture and literature, and teaches courses on the relation between culture and politics. Nafisi has written for The New York Times, Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal.  Her latest book, "Things I Have Been Silent About," is a memoir about her mother.

Ed Ruscha
April 2, 7 p.m.
AT&T Conference Center Amphitheatre

1900 University Ave.

Born in 1937 in Omaha, Neb., Ruscha moved to Los Angeles in 1956 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute. He had his first solo exhibition in 1963 at the Ferus Gallery in Los Angeles. He shows with the Gagosian Gallery in New York, Beverly Hills and London. Encompassing photography, drawing, painting and artists' books, Ruscha's work has been the subject of retrospectives at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1983), the Centre Georges Pompidou (1989) and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (2000). In 2001, Ruscha was elected to The American Academy of Arts and Letters as a member of the Department of Art. The following year a major exhibition of Ruscha's work opened in Spain at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. "Leave Any Information at the Signal," a volume of Ruscha's writings, was published by MIT Press in 2002.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Doors open 30 minutes before the program begins. No reservations required, but seating is limited.

High-resolution press images are available.

For more information, contact: Alicia Dietrich, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512 232 3667;  Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512-471-8949.