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3/28/2002 Ericksen to present Linfield faculty lecture

McMINNVILLE – Sense and nonsense in contemporary culture will be the focus of a faculty lecture at Linfield College.

Ken Ericksen, professor of English, will present "Creative Discord: Post Post–Modernism in the Arts and Literature" on Wednesday, April 10, at 7:30 p.m. in 201 Riley Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Ericksen will discuss developments in artistic culture during the past century, looking specifically at poetry, fiction and criticism, with an opening glance at the visual arts. He will focus on what standards are used for critiquing art and literature, and how the standards have changed in the 20th century.

"The very concept of 'common sense' seems to have been flung out the window," Ericksen said. "Anyone visiting an art gallery such as the Tate Modern in London or attending a poetry reading must have had moments of wonderment about where the concept of 'common sense' is now hiding or whether we have now created an 'uncommon sense' of even greater value."

Ericksen said traditional attitudes are often deconstructed and then reconstructed in a different way to see what can be learned from them, such as a grand piano hanging upside down from the ceiling or an entire poem made up of only four words, "Obtain from the brook."

Another phenomenon, ready-made art, was popularized by French artist Marcel Duchamp, who takes everyday objects like snow shovels and urinals and exhibits them as art.

"I could have gone to the store, purchased the same snow shovel and hung it on the wall but they wouldn't call it art," Ericksen noted. "So is it just Duchamp's name that makes it art?"

Ericksen recalled one museum exhibit featuring an open lunch box, thermos and stool nestled carefully in wood shavings. Only later, when a workman returned to finish his lunch, did Ericksen realize it was not an exhibit at all, although it fit well with the surrounding displays.

Ericksen, a professor at Linfield since 1965, avidly attends art museums, poetry readings and theatre performances. He is also a member of the Northwest Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, the Association of Literary Scholars and Critics, the Jane Austin Society of North America and the Modern Language Association. He holds a bachelor's degree from Pacific Lutheran University, and a master's and Ph.D. from Rice University.

The Linfield College faculty lecture series offers one presentation each month by members of the Linfield faculty. For more information, call 503-883-2409.