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Noted essayist and environmentalist Scott Russell Sanders to speak at Middlebury College May 4

April 19, 2006

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? Nationally acclaimed essayist and environmentalist Scott Russell Sanders will speak in Middlebury College's Dana Auditorium, on Thursday, May 4, at 7:30 p.m. Sanders, a professor of English at Indiana University, Bloomington, will read from his recently released memoir, "A Private History of Awe," published by North Point Press in February 2006. Dana Auditorium is located in Sunderland Language Center on College Street (Route 125). On Friday, May 5, at 12:30 p.m. he will facilitate a discussion on community, sustainability and the writing life in the Middlebury College Organic Garden on College Street (Route 125).

Scott Russell Sanders

"A Private History of Awe" is a coming-of-age memoir, love story and spiritual testament in which Sanders traces the corresponding development of his imagination and insightful sense of responsibility. Ranging from personal recollection to crafted nature writing and constructive social commentary, Sanders weaves the story of his own family life against the wider backdrop of American culture in the late 20th century. Sanders is especially concerned with understanding our human place in nature, the work of social justice, the practice of community and the search for a spiritual path.
Tim Rutten, of the Los Angeles Times, wrote that "A Private History of Awe" will "go a long way toward confirming Sanders' reputation as one of a handful of truly fine and accomplished American practitioners of the essay form." The San Francisco Chronicle's Ethan Gilsdorf said, "At least in Sanders' hands, subjectivity seems natural and benign. Let more books like this flood the marketplace, and the memoir's age of exaggeration and hubris may finally be over. An ordinary life may even be possible again."

Sanders was born in rural Mississippi in 1945 and grew up on a farm in Memphis and, later, outside of a military arsenal in Ohio, before studying physics at Brown University. A conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he completed his graduate work in English literature as a Marshall Scholar at Cambridge University in 1971 before returning to the Midwest to teach in the English Department at Indiana University.

His work as an essayist has been prolific and highly acclaimed, with essays appearing in the Georgia Review, Orion Magazine, Shenandoah (The Washington and Lee University Review), Arts Indiana, the Minnesota Review, and the Kenyon Review. His essays have been anthologized in several books. Additionally, Sanders has published 19 books, including eight works of fiction and seven storybooks for children.

In his 1999 book titled "The Country of Language," Sanders wrote, "What I do know is that writing is my slow, stubborn way of asking questions, tracing the contours of feelings, thinking about what moves and troubles me. And I know that my impulse to write is bound up with my desire to salvage worthy moments from the river of time. Maybe all art is a hedge against loss."
Sanders previously spoke at Middlebury in 2003. 

 The lecture is sponsored by several Middlebury College organizations: Atwater Commons, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Department of American Literature and Civilization, the Environmental Studies program, the student-run Middlebury Mountain Club, the Stewart Fund and the Academic Enrichment Fund.

For more information, contact Middlebury College senior Jacob Risinger at