Symposium to look at values in Western literature

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    By EMILY CANNON

    Scholars of Western American studies will gather to discuss the importance of faith and Christian values in Western literature this week at the Provo Marriott Hotel and BYU.

    A symposium titled “Spiritual Frontiers 2000: Belief and Values in the Literary West” will be held Thursday through Saturday and feature presentations from national scholars.

    Richard H. Cracroft, director of BYU’s Center for the Study of Christian Values in Literature and editor of “Literature and Belief,” said the purpose of the symposium is to look through spectacles of faith and see what has occurred in the literature of the West.

    “This symposium presents a different slant than what is usually assumed about the West, focusing on the survival of the fittest and shoot-outs,” Cracroft said. “Many writers see the West as a place with Christian values.”

    Kevin Klein, 25, a graduate student from Provo majoring in English, said while some may not consider Western literature a source of spiritual values, the symposium will illustrate Western writers did incorporate them into their writing.

    The sessions will consist of scholars presenting papers with topics such as “Willa Cather: Charting Her Own Theological Course,” “Latter-day Saint Literary Pioneers: Successful Failures and Failed Successes,” “Jack London’s Spiritual Landscapes,” and “Anchors Aweigh: Annie Dillard and the Question of Faith.”

    The 12 plenary speakers and 20 symposium fellows will join with 50 scholars to examine the faith and values in works of authors including Norman Maclean, Willa Cather, Mark Twain and Jack London.

    On Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m., James Arrington will present a one-man play, “Brigham Live! An Evening with the American Moses,” in the Arches room of the Marriott Hotel.

    The symposium is hosted by BYU’s Center for the Study of Christian Values in Literature and the Charles Redd Center for Western Studies.

    The sessions begin on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel at 8:30 a.m. Friday sessions will be in the Wilkinson Student Center from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday sessions will begin at 8:00 a.m. at the Marriott. For more information, call (801) 378-3082.

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