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Former missionary child, author and educator to deliver Palmer Lecture at Cumberlands


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – University of the Cumberlands English Department, in conjunction with the Religion Department, has announced that former missionary child, author and educator Dr. Elaine Orr will present the Dr. Robert L. Palmer Memorial Lecture for 2010, at 7:30 p.m., November 9 in the Gatliff Chapel on campus. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Each year an outstanding author is invited to UC’s campus to present a public lecture/reading and to visit certain university classes. Elaine Orr will be the twentieth Palmer lecturer, preceded by such well known authors as Jim Wayne Miller, Billy Collins, Frank X. Walker, Natalie Kusz and Rita Quillen.

Orr was born and spent a great portion of her youth in Nigeria as the child of missionaries. She attended graduate school at the University of Louisville, where she specialized in creative nonfiction, and then obtained a PhD in literature and theology at Emory University. Orr currently teaches full-time at North Carolina State University and at Spalding University in the low residency MFA program.

Orr’s interest in Women’s Studies led to her published works: Tillie Olson and a Feminist Spiritual Vision and Subject to Negotiation: Reading Feminist Criticism and American Women’s Writing. Her memoir, Gods of Noonday: A White Girl’s African Life, tells of her life as a missionary’s child in Africa. This work has received many honors including writing grants from the NEH and the North Carolina Arts Council. The subject matter of Gods of Noonday clearly created the partnership between UC’s English and religion departments in sponsorship of this lecture.

The Palmer lectureship was established by Dr. Palmer’s nephew, Jackson, Miss., businessman and U. S. Ambassador to Portugal, John Palmer, to honor his uncle.