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Bluffton prof to speak on Flannery O’Connor and Catholic fiction

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – L. Lamar Nisly’s research over the past few years has focused on southern Catholic writers, including Flannery O’Connor. He will be sharing his findings with Bethel College seniors and interested others in several lectures Monday, Nov. 5.

Nisly is professor of English and chair of the English and language department at Bluffton (Ohio) University. He began comparing the work of Tim Gautreaux, Walker Percy and O’Connor in 2002, with the bulk of his research coming during a sabbatical in 2005-06.

Nisly will speak on “Flannery O’Connor, Writer for Wingless Chickens” in Bethel College’s convocation Nov. 5 at 11 a.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium. During this school year, Bethel seniors are studying two novels and several short stories by O’Connor, along with the Gospel of John, as texts in Basic Issues of Faith and Life (BIFL), the senior capstone course. In the afternoon, Nisly will meet with a plenary session of BIFL and at 7 p.m. he will speak in the Administration Building chapel. The morning and evening events are open to the public.

The evening lecture, “‘Good for the Soul,’ or Why Mennonites Should Read Catholic Literature,” is a reprise of Nisly’s C. Henry Smith Peace Lecture given at Goshen (Ind.) College last April. Nisly argues that Mennonites should read Catholic fiction because it engages themes of peace and justice, the all-consuming nature of following Christ, the sacredness of each individual, and the possibility of grace.

The evening lecture is sponsored by the Marpeck Fund, set up by Gerald and Robert Kreider of North Newton for discretionary use by the deans of Mennonite colleges and universities in the United States and Canada to foster discussion and dialogue among the institutions.

Nisly has a bachelor’s degree from Messiah College, Grantham, Pa., and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Delaware. He is the author of Impossible to Say: Representing Religious Mystery in Fiction by Malamud, Percy, Ozick and O’Connor (Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002). He has taught at Bluffton University since 1996.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the highest ranked Kansas college in the national liberal arts category of U.S. News & World Report’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008. For more information, see the Bethel Web site at www.bethelks.edu.

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