Vandenburg, Gordon, Keane to Read Work as Part of 125th anniversary Events
November 4, 2014
Interview by Camille Baptista
Illustration by Rachael Dottle
Barnard will continue its 125th anniversary celebrations this week with a reading by three longtime members of the Barnard community.
Professors Mary Gordon, Margaret Vandenburg, and Mary Beth Keane will each read new fiction in Barnard’s Sulzberger Parlor on Nov. 6, an extra event added to the Writers at Barnard series this semester.
Gordon said the reading will be a particularly special one because of the three professors’ connections to each other as friends and colleagues. Gordon and Vandenburg have worked at Barnard together for more than 15 years, and Keane, who currently teaches story writing, is a former student of both Gordon’s and Vandenburg’s.
“We really have a connection as friends, and it’s a connection that only happened because of Barnard,” Gordon, who teaches English and writing, said.
“We’re somehow different generations, different roles in the department, and there’s a way in which we all are now meeting in the same capacity,” Vandenburg said. “We all contribute to this thing called Barnard in different ways, or we try to.”
Vandenburg will read selections from “The Home Front,” her latest novel about a family with an autistic child and a father in the military. The mother turns to online research to help her cope, Vandenburg said, calling to question the role of the Internet in modern problem-solving as well as the ways in which increases in behavioral diagnoses are “narrowing the range of acceptable behavior.”
“I’m trying to open up what’s going on in this country,” she said. “The typical American family has a very different face now than it used to.”
Vandenburg praised Gordon, who is on leave this semester and working on a new novel about the Spanish Civil War, as a leader in the creative writing department.
“She is a preeminent writer,” said Vandenburg, who joined the Barnard faculty in 1998 and has seen the writing department expand since then. “Barnard’s known for its writers, and Mary has uniquely contributed to that in terms of the scope of writers that are coming out of here.”