Lyon College has announced its Heasley Prize winner for 2019. Writer Ethan Canin will be on campus Thursday, March 28 to present a public reading at 7:30 p.m. in the Bevens Room in the Brown Fine Arts Building.
Highly regarded as both a novelist and as a short story writer, Canin has ranged in his career from the "breathtaking" short stories of Emperor of the Air to the "stunning" novellas of The Palace Thief, from the "wise and beautiful" short novel Carry Me Across the Water to the "epic" America America.
His short stories, which have been the basis for four Hollywood movies, have appeared in a wide range of magazines, including The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Paris Review, and Granta, and they have appeared in many prize anthologies.
The son of a musician and a public-school art teacher, Canin spent his childhood in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and California before attending Stanford University, the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, and then Harvard Medical School.
In time, he gave up his medical career to write and teach creative writing. He is now F. Wendell Miller Professor of English at his alma mater, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he has taught many new writers. In his spare time, he has been remodeling two historic homes, one in the woods of northern Michigan and the other in Iowa City, where he lives with his wife, their three children, and four chickens.
In all, Canin is the author of five novels and two books of short stories. His short stories have been the basis for four Hollywood movies. His novels cover a wide range of characters, settings and themes.
Two are coming-of-age novels. For Kings and Planets is about a young man from rural Missouri who goes to college at Columbia and falls in with another student of unusual genius and influence. America America is told in retrospect by a small-town New York newspaper editor as he relates his high school and college days under the influence of a local millionaire and political activist.
On the other hand, Carry Me Across the Water is about a World War II veteran who returned home, built a highly successful business, and now, as an elderly widower, thinks about returning a highly personal war souvenir he took from a dead Japanese soldier.
His most recent novel, A Doubter’s Almanac, is a successful son’s account of the life of his father, a mathematics genius on the faculty at Princeton whose eccentricities cost him his position and ultimately send him to a backwoods cabin in Michigan where he lives as a hermit. Its double interest lies in its studies of a particular genius and of a family’s survival and triumph over the damage that genius causes.
Canin has won several literary prizes including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the California Book Award/Gold Medal in Literature, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, the Lyndhurst Prize, the Henfield/Transatlantic Review Prize, and the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship. He now adds Lyon College’s Heasley Prize.
His reading is free and open to the public.
Starting last fall, Lyon College has offered a murals class, where students spend the semester working on a mural project for a building in Batesville. Students from the class have created four murals so far, the first of the spring murals class having just been completed.
“Last semester we had the opportunity to work on three murals,” said art student Morgun Henson. “We learned from a couple outside artists about different techniques they used, and we also learned about the process of working with the stakeholders to agree on a design.”
Under the direction of Associate Professor of Art Dustyn Bork, Henson and five other students worked with artists Steve Adair and Grace "PHLOX" Engel to paint a mural in Pocket Park on Main Street, another mural at the Law Offices of Fuller Bumpers on Broad Street, and a mural at the dispatch office for the Independence County Sheriff’s Department.
“It's awesome to see the visual impact in the community,” said Bork. “Batesville is experiencing a bit of a Renaissance downtown and it’s been rewarding to play a small part in that.”
The fourth and most recent project is Henson’s mural in The Stepping Stone at White River Medical Center, an adult psychiatric unit. The mural depicts stepping stones leading toward a mountain in the distance.
Henson first took the murals class in the fall semester, and she is now taking the course again as a directed study with Bork.
“When Dustyn [Bork] suggested the Stepping Stones location I was immediately interested,” said Henson. “The idea of creating art while making a positive impact is something I am very passionate about, so I said yes right then and there.”
Henson said her inspiration was her passion for mental health.
“I wanted to make sure it was calming, peaceful, and encouraging,” she said. “The facility has very bare walls, and it exudes a mundane vibe, so I deliberately chose vibrant colors that draw the viewer’s attention...I played around with several ideas, and decided on the mountains to represent the challenges we all have to overcome. The journey can be rough, but after you get to the top you feel like you can conquer the world. This is the message I wanted to convey and I think it is very appropriate for the setting it is in.”
Henson said she has received positive feedback so far from the facility and its patients.
“I had some amazing conversations with patients about the impact art has on their life,” she said. “It brings back good memories for them, and it was incredible to give them a slice of joy in an oftentimes scary place. I hope this mural continues to bring those happy feelings in the patients’ lives.”
Lyon College participated in UA Little Rock’s Math Day 2019 for the first time and left with two wins.
The students first competed in the Calculus Bowl, an individual event where participants had 30 to 45 minutes to solve 15 math problems, followed by the second event, Math Jeopardy.
The team won the Math Jeopardy competition, and math student Kyle Rose received an honorable mention in the Calculus Bowl.
Rose said winning honorable mention “isn't too bad for a first-timer.”
As for Math Jeopardy, the team said they were happy with their win.
“It felt very good to win the Math Jeopardy competition [because] I knew more than I expected to of the material in the competition,” said math student Benjamin Smith.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics Dr. Tharanga Wijetunge said Lyon received an invitation from UA Little Rock, and he reached out to his students about competing.
“I thought it would be a good opportunity for students to get involved,” Wijetunge said. “We had a couple of practice sessions, and the students enjoyed solving outside-the-classroom math problems.”
Wijetunge said he and his students plan to compete next year.
“I am, and my students are confident that we can bring the individual event trophy next year,” he said.
Lyon students Rose, Johnathan Brightwell, Smith, and Michael Humphrey competed on a team, joined by Jason Hendrix from Harding University and Faruq Hammed from Philander Smith College.
Associate Professor of History Dr. Mark Wallace was recently accepted into U.K.’s Royal Historical Society (RHS), joining the approximate 10 percent of U.S. “fellows” in the society.
Established in 1868, RHS is a voluntary organization made up over 3,000 historians and scholars. According to RHS, to be accepted, a candidate must have made “an original contribution to historical scholarship.” Wallace met this requirement with his work studying the Scottish Enlightenment and the publication of his book The Great Transformation: Scottish Freemasonry 1725-1810.
Joining the society offers several benefits to not only Wallace but also Lyon students.
“This network will allow me to put students interested in research opportunities in contact with historians and academics who potentially will further assist them in their academic endeavors,” he said. “For example, I am supervising a student as part of an honors contract, and the work that my colleagues are doing is relevant to her interests. Ultimately, I want to encourage collaboration among students and established academics in an effort to give students experience in working with others who are passionate about history and can provide avenues for further research.”
For Wallace, he may now use the distinction “FRHistS” at the end of his title. He will also be able to connect with fellow historians that share his interests.
“There are also opportunities for funding and research through the society,” he added. “So, the resulting exposure to new ideas and areas of research would be available to myself and, as an extension, Lyon College.”
Wallace is also honored by the recognition the distinction entails.
“It signifies the acceptance of my work by an academy and my colleagues, and the respect with which my work is viewed,” explained Wallace. “I am very honored to have been nominated by Professor Andrew Prescott at the University of Glasgow, and deemed by my peers to meet the standards of admission as a fellow to the RHS. I look forward to contributing more to my field, and to the Royal Historical Society as well.”
Lyon College celebrated National Women’s History Month with brunch this week, where female students and staff discussed accomplishments and societal challenges for women. Brunch was followed by keynote speaker, senior student and Student Government Association (SGA) President Taylor Donnerson.
Junior Emma Gillaspy started the brunch by introducing the theme “Empowered and Acknowledged.”
“Today, we gather to celebrate the unique gifts we offer to our community and the world,” she said.
While attendees brunched, Gillaspy posed questions to the audience about their experiences as women.
When asked who her female role model was, sophomore Laura Mendez shared she looked up to her mom. Mendez said her mom moved to the U.S. without knowing much English and worked despite being in an unfamiliar country.
“I hope to be as brave as her one day,” said Mendez.
Following discussion, Donnerson shared her experience as a woman and how early on she applied herself to keep herself grounded, especially as she entered college. She said as a result of her determination, Donnerson became the first female African American SGA president at Lyon College.
“[During college], I learned that being a woman is just a characteristic of who I am as a person,” said Donnerson. “It doesn’t limit me...It doesn’t hinder anything.”
After Donnerson’s speech, Gillaspy presented Donnerson with the first ever Women’s Impact Award.
“The Women’s Impact Award is presented by the Office of Diversity in an effort to identify individuals that have significantly enhanced the Lyon College campus and surrounding community,” said Gillaspy. “The recipient demonstrates leadership and is committed to social change within our community. For me personally, Taylor has done wonders for me at Lyon...Honestly if it wasn’t for Taylor I wouldn’t be where I am now.”
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