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Dr. Charles Johnson to deliver Libraries Maxine Cushing Gray Lecture, November 19

November 3 , 2010


Media Contact: A.C. Petersen
Libraries Communications Officer
(206) 543-9389


Dr. Charles Johnson, recipient of the 2010 Maxine Cushing Gray Visiting Writers Fellowship Award at UW Libraries, will give a lecture Friday, November 19, 7:00 p.m. in Odegaard Undergraduate Library 220 on the UW Campus.

Nov 15: This event has reached capacity and we are no longer taking reservations. A waiting list will be taken at OUGL 220 at 6 pm on Nov 19. Thank you.

The event is free and open to the public; reservations are recommended. To register, call (206) 616-8397 or email uwlibs@u.washington.edu

A philosopher, novelist, essayist, short story writer, and scholar of black American literature and Buddhism, Dr. Charles Johnson’s novel Middle Passage won the National Book Award in 1990 — the first time such an award was given to an African American male since Ralph Ellison in 1953.

A popular professor, Johnson retired in 2009 after 33 years of. teaching at the University of Washington. He continues his work as an editor, cartoonist, and journalist.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Johnson began his career as a cartoonist and illustrator. After studying with cartoonist Lawrence Lariar, he began publishing stories and comic art at the age of seventeen. His two collections of political cartoons, Black Humor and Half-Past Nation Time, published as he was completing his bachelor's degree in journalism, were acclaimed for their subtle but pointed satire of race relations, and their success led to Charlie’s Pad, a 1970 how-to-draw series on public television that Johnson created, co-produced, and hosted.

Johnson published his first novel, Faith and the Good Thing in 1974. Since then he has authored 17 books, more than 20 screenplays, 1000 drawings, and numerous essays, articles, short stories, literary reviews and works of criticism. A Ph.D. in philosophy, and a practicing Buddhist who specialized in phenomenology, aesthetics, and eastern thought, Johnson is the recipient of many awards, including NEA and Guggenheim fellowships, a Writers Guild Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship. His novel Middle Passage has just been leased by D.C. Comics to become a graphic novel in the near future.

The Maxine Cushing Gray Visiting Writers Fellowship was moved to the UW Libraries in 2004. The original award was established in 1985 at the Seattle Foundation by friends and admirers of the late Maxine Cushing Gray, who sought to honor her contributions to journalism and her tireless work to recognize and encourage excellence in writing.

The Maxine Cushing Gray Jury, composed of award founders, Richard Campbell and Judith Whetzel; Professor Linda Bierds; Romance Languages and Literature Librarian, Deb Raftus, and University Press Advancement Officer, Nina McGuinness recommended Dr.Johnson as the 2010-2011 recipient. As the Libraries’ writer-in-residence, Johnson will receive a $5,000 stipend, and will lead a seminar with UW students.

The University of Washington Libraries is a network of more than 17 units serving three campuses: Seattle, Bothell and Tacoma. Major facilities include Suzzallo and Allen Libraries, Odegaard Undergraduate Library and the Health Sciences Library, as well as subject-oriented libraries. For Libraries news, events and exhibits, visit <http://www.lib.washington.edu/about/news>

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contact: A.C. Petersen, Libraries Communications Officer