Tech professors travel to exclusive symposium

January 29, 2009

by Emily LaFleur

Robert Rudnicki, associate professor of English, and Robert C. Snyder, Endowed Professor in English, were invited to speak at the second annual Pebble Hill Books Symposium honoring Lewis Nordan, a notable southern writer, Jan. 23 at Auburn University.

“I was contacted a few months ago and asked if I could participate in this invitation only event,” Rudnicki said.

Barbara Baker, editor of Pebble Hill Books, said Rudnicki was invited to help the Caroline Marshal Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University honored Nordan.

Rudnicki’s selection to speak in honor of Nordan because of his previous works covering the life of the famed writer.

Rudnicki’s literary pieces on Nordan are not only special because of the quality, but also because of their significance.

“Robert Rudnicki was selected because of his wonderful writing about Lewis Nordan,” said Baker. “To date, there is not a lot of published critical examination of Nordan’s work [therefore] Rudnicki is a bit of a pioneer in this area.”

Rudnicki said Nordan is a great writer that many southerners can relate to.

According to Auburn University’s Web site, Nordan graduated from Auburn in 1973 and worked as a writer-in-residence for the University of Pittsburgh until he retired in 2005.

The Web site also stated Nordan’s Music of the Swamp collection is the most popular of his works.

The collection garnered Nordan the prestigious Porter Fund Prize.

In Music of the Swamp, Nordan developed his signature gift of transforming memories from his southern upbringing into thrilling tales of transcendence and hope.

Rudnicki said the symposium included Nordan along with other creative writers and scholars celebrating Nordan’s works.

He said admirers from all over the world attended the full day event.

“Nordan is admired internationally,” Rudnicki said. “It was wonderful to see scholars as well as established novelists make their way from universities in Miami, Chapel Hill, Ohio, Spain and the Czech Republic to celebrate Lewis Nordan’s life and writing.”

“Nordan’s achievements remind us that the South, and in particular the byways and small towns of Louisiana and Mississippi, continues to be a wellspring for creative writers and other artists,” he said.

Rudnicki said toward the evening Nordan gave his keynote address that surprisingly included a taste of Nordan’s upcoming novel.