The Robert E. Knoll Lecture Series was founded to honor Professor Robert Knoll, D.B. and Paula Varner Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus, for his extraordinary service to the department, the university, and the community. The series presents annual lectures by distinguished visiting scholars addressing topics of interest to faculty, undergraduate students, and members of the public who have an interest in literature.

About Professor Knoll

Professor Robert Knoll

2020 Robert E. Knoll Lecture

Carolyne Forche

Knoll Lecture

“Writing Witness”

Thursday, April 16, 2020
5:30 p.m.
Andrews Hall Bailey Library

A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, three fellowships from the NEA, a Lannan Foundatioon Lierary Fellowship, and the Windham-Campbell Prize, among other recognitions, Carolyn Forché is University Professor at Georgetown University. She published her first poetry collection in 1976, Gathering the Tribes, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Her subsequent books of poetry are The Country Between Us (Harper & Row, 1981), The Angel of History (HarperCollins, 1994), and Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2003). She is also the author of the memoir What You Have Heard is True (Penguin Random House, 2019), a devastating, lyrical, and visionary memoir about a young woman’s brave choice to engage with horror in order to help others.


Friday, April 17, 2020
5:00 p.m.
Nebraska Club lounge
233 S. 13th Street

Past Speakers

Rigoberto Gonzalez

Rigoberto Gonzalez

“Unforgetting Tamazunchale: A Return to the Classics of Chicanx Literature”

March 12, 2019

Rigoberto González is a poet, author, L.A. Times critic and Professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. His latest book of poetry, Unpeopled Eden, won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. (Photo credit: Marion Ettlinger)

Leigh Gilmore

Leigh Gilmore

“Graphic Witness: Testimony, Memory and the #MeToo Movement”

March 6, 2018

Leigh Gilmore is Distinguished Visiting Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Wellesley College and the author of Tainted Witness: Why We Doubt What Women Say About Their Lives.

Stacy Alaimo

Stacy Alaimo

“Deep Sea Speculations: Literature and Science in the Abyss"

March 28, 2017

Stacy Alaimo is professor of English, Distinguished Teaching Professor, and Former Director of the Environmental and Sustainability Studies Minor at the University of Texas at Arlington.

Donald E. Pease

Donald E. Pease

“Between the Camp and the Commons: Bio-Political Alter-Geographies in Frederic Douglass and Herman Melville”

March 15, 2016

Donald E. Pease is Professor of English and Comparative Literature, the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities, and Chair of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Dartmouth College.

Frederick Luis Aldama

Frederick Luis Aldama

“The Science of Storytelling”

April 7, 2015

Dr. Aldama is Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at the Ohio State University where he teaches Latino/a and Latin American post-colonial literatue, film, and comics, as well as narrative theory and cognitive science approaches to culture.

Wai Chee Dimock

Wai Chee Dimock

“Three Wars: Henry James and Others”

April 2, 2009

Wai Chee Dimock is William Lampson Professor of American Studies and English at Yale University.

Lawrence Buell

Lawrence Buell

“Environmental Memory and Planetary Survival”

November 1, 2007

Dr. Lawrence Buell is Powell M. Cabot Professor of American Literature Emeritus at Harvard University, a specialist on antebellum American literature and a pioneer of ecocriticism.

Houston A. Baker, Jr.

Houston A. Baker, Jr.

“Black Neoconservatism Shelby Steel Style: How the Civil Rights Movement Has Been Betrayed”

February 27, 2007

Houston A. Baker, Jr. is Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, a specialist in African American literature, and a former president elect of the Modern Language Association.

Marjorie Perloff

Marjorie Perloff

October 6, 2005

“The Rise, Fall and Mutation of Avant-garde Movements: The Case of Language Poetry”

Marjorie Perloff is Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities Emerita at Stanford University, a literary critic of modern poetry, and former president elect of the Modern Language Association.

About Robert Knoll

Robert Knoll served the Department of English and the university for over 60 years. A specialist in Renaissance literature, Professor Knoll also had a long-lasting interest in the writers of the Lost Generation as well as of the Great Plains, including Weldon Kees.

Professor Knoll was a native Nebraskan. Born in Liberty, Nebraska, he graduated from Omaha North High School and then graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. He received his PhD from the University of Minnesota in 1950 and joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska that same year.. Professor Knoll became one of the most crucial members of the faculty and remained so until his retirement 40 years later. Upon his retirement, he was named the D. B. and Paula Varner Professor of English Emeritus, after already having been awarded the George Holmes Distinguished Professorship—an honor given only to the university's most distinguished faculty.

After his retirement, Professor Knoll set out to write Prairie University: A History of the University of Nebraska, which, since its publication in 1995, has become the official history of this institution. Further testifying to Professor Knoll's long-lasting impact, as well as the positive effects he and his family had on the life of this university community, a residential center was opened in his honor in 2009.

The Knoll lecture series is funded by an endowment begun in 1991. It has since been, and continues to be, generously supported by a large number of Professor Knoll's colleagues, former students, friends, and family members, first and foremost by his wife, Virginia, who is herself a UNL alumna and a very special friend of this department. The lecture series continues an important annual event in the life of the Department of English, and all lectures are free and open to the public.