NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – When he is at Bethel College to give the annual Menno Simons Lectures, Jeff Gundy will continue with an argument he’s been exploring for a while.
Gundy, professor of English at Bluffton (Ohio) University, will speak on the overall theme “Wrestling with Mennonite/s Writing” Nov. 1–2 on the Bethel campus.
“These lectures will continue the larger argument that I’ve been making for some time,” Gundy said, “in Walker in the Fog and Songs from an Empty Cage and some recent essays.
“In a nutshell, it’s that the impulse toward rebellion, renewal and resistance to established authority and power structures is an essential thread of Anabaptism – in, fact part of ‘the tradition’ and not a break from tradition.”
Walker in the Fog: On Mennonite Writing (Cascadia), from 2005, and Songs from an Empty Cage: Poetry, Mystery, Anabaptism and Peace (Cascadia), from 2013, are Gundy’s most recent published collections of essays.
He is the author of two additional nonfiction books (essays and memoir), as well as six books of poems.
The second of Gundy’s Menno Simons Lectures will be a poetry reading, “with some commentary along the way,” he said.
In addition to Somewhere Near Defiance (Anhinga, 2014), “I quite suddenly and unexpectedly have another book of poems just out – Abandoned Homeland, published by Bottom Dog Press, which did two of my earlier books,” he said.
“So I’ll read some poems from that along with a number from Somewhere Near Defiance.
“In the other lectures, my aim is to do a broad overview of the current Menno Lit scene, somewhat in the vein of John Ruth’s and Al Reimer’s earlier Menno Simons Lectures [in 1976 and 1991, respectively].
“Neither of them were ‘objective,’ of course, and I won’t be either. I plan to spend some time exploring recent developments such as the rise of fantasy and magic realist fiction by Menno authors, poetry that enters the realm of theopoetics in various ways, and the emergence of LGBTQ writing.”
The first in the three-lecture series, “Imagining Mennonite/s Writing: Wrestlers, Rebels and Assorted Others,” will be at 7 p.m. Nov.1.
The second and third lectures will be Nov. 2. “Hearing Mennonite/s Writing: Somewhere Near Defiance” will be the convocation presentation at 11 a.m. “Looking for Mennonite/s Writing: The Village, the City and the So-Called Real World” will be given at 7 p.m.
All lectures will be presented in Krehbiel Auditorium in Bethel’s Fine Arts Center.
Opportunity for questions and discussion will follow each lecture. All sessions are free and open to the public.
Copies of Gundy’s most recent books will be available for purchase after each lecture.
Gundy has been on the English faculty at Bluffton University since 1984 (before that, he taught four years at Hesston College). He is a graduate of Goshen (Indiana) College and earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Indiana University-Bloomington.
His poems and essays have appeared in Georgia Review, Image, Kenyon Review, The Christian Century, Mennonite Quarterly Review, Conrad Grebel Review, Nimrod and many other magazines.
Gundy was a 2008 Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Salzburg, and taught at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania, in spring 2015.
Other awards and honors include two C. Henry Smith Peace Lectureships at Bluffton, a Bechtel Lectureship at Conrad Grebel University College, Waterloo, Ontario, a Yoder Lectureship at Goshen College, the Dale Brown Book Award (for Walker in the Fog) and multiple poetry fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council.
The John P. and Carolina Schrag Kaufman family established the Menno Simons Lectureship Endowment to promote research and public lectures by recognized scholars relating to Anabaptist-Mennonite history, thought, life and culture, past and present. Since 1997, the family of William E. and Meta Goering Juhnke has also contributed substantially to the endowment. Both families have their roots in the Moundridge area.