Bradbury Biographer Provides Insight Into ‘Man Behind the Masterpiece’ for The Big Read

Author Sam Weller will present “The Man Behind the Masterpiece” beginning at 7 p.m.

CSM Hosts Author Sam Weller for Lecture, Book Signing Feb. 17

Participants of The Big Read in Southern Maryland of Ray Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451” will gain insight into the influential author of this 1953 classic and the writing process when authorized biographer Sam Weller presents “The Man Behind the Masterpiece,” beginning at 7 p.m., Feb. 17 at the College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus.

The author of “The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury” and its companion book “The Ray Bradbury Interviews” to be published in June, Weller is a frequent lecturer on Bradbury’s life and works. “Certainly, one of the concerns at the forefront of Ray Bradbury’s mind when he wrote ‘Fahrenheit 451’ in 1953 was the misuse and overuse of television and how it could greatly contribute to the dumbing down of society,” Weller writes at www.bradburychronicles.com. “In [Bradbury’s] fictional dystopia, people don’t need the government to censor things for them, they are censoring themselves by retreating from anything and everything that stimulates intellectual thought. One needs look no further than the character of Mildred for proof. She doesn’t need Big Brother telling her to eschew books for TV, she has done it all on her very own.”

Weller, who is a professor in the fiction department at Columbia College, Chicago, wrote, “In my hundreds of hours of interviews, not once did Ray Bradbury say that his book was not about censorship. In fact, we discussed the theme of censorship countless times. …To Ray Bradbury, his stories are living, breathing creatures and, as such, they grow and evolve. ‘Fahrenheit 451’ doesn't mean the same thing to Ray Bradbury in 2007 as it did to Ray Bradbury circa 1953.”

CSM is partnering with 18 organizations to offer programs focused on Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451” as part of the National Endowment of the Arts’ literature program.  The community-based reading programs feature a variety of activities such as book discussions and movie screenings, a writer’s workshop and book preservation workshop. All public events scheduled within Southern Maryland are free and can be viewed online at www.csmd.edu/TheBigRead.

The college’s partners in planning events are Asbury-Solomons Island, Calvert County Literacy Council, Calvert County Office on Aging, Calvert Library, Calvert County Public Schools, Charles County Arts Council, Charles County Literacy Council, Charles County Public Library, Charles County Public Schools, The Calverton School, Maryland Public Television, St. Mary’s County Department of Aging, St. Mary’s County Library, St. Mary’s County Literacy Council, St. Mary’s County Public Schools, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Southern Maryland Regional Library Association and St. Mary’s Ryken High School.

“The Man Behind the Masterpiece” will begin at 7 p.m., Feb. 17, at CSM’s La Plata Campus, Center for Business and Industry, Room BI-113, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. In addition to the lecture, Weller will be available for a book signing. For information on the lecture, call 301-934-7626. For information on Weller, visit www.bradburychronicles.com. For information on The Big Read in Southern Maryland, visit www.csmd.edu/TheBigRead.

The NEA describes “Fahrenheit 451” in its preface as “a gripping story at once disturbing and poetic, Bradbury takes the materials of pulp fiction and transforms them into a visionary parable of a society gone awry, in which firemen burn books and the state suppresses learning. Meanwhile, the citizenry sits by in a drug-induced and media-saturated indifference. More relevant than ever a half-century later, ‘Fahrenheit 451’ has achieved the rare distinction of being both a literary classic and a perennial bestseller.”

The Big Read 2010 grants, totaling $3,742,765, represent 44 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Since the 2006 pilot program with 10 participating organizations, the NEA has given more than 800 grants to support The Big Read’s local projects. The NEA launched The Big Read nationally in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest.

The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts—both new and established—bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For information, visit www.arts.gov.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. For information, visit www.imls.gov.

Arts Midwest connects people throughout the Midwest and the world to meaningful arts opportunities, sharing creativity, knowledge, and understanding across boundaries. Arts Midwest connects the arts to audiences throughout the nine-state region of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. One of six non-profit regional arts organizations in the United States, Arts Midwest’s history spans more than 25 years. For information, visit www.artsmidwest.org.

 

CALENDAR

The Big Read Lecture & Book Signing: The Man Behind the Masterpiece. 7 p.m., Feb. 17, College of Southern Maryland, La Plata Campus (BI Building), Center for Business and Industry, Room BI-113, 8730 Mitchell Road, La Plata. Presentation and book signing by best-selling author Sam Weller, the author of “The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury” and the companion book “The Ray Bradbury Interviews” to be published by Melville House Press in June. Weller is a professor in the fiction writing department at Columbia College in Chicago. Free. 301-934-7626. Throughout February, CSM partners with 18 organizations to offer programs focused on Bradbury’s book “Fahrenheit 451” as part of the National Endowment for the Arts literature program. The community-based reading programs feature a variety of activities such as book discussions and movie screenings, a writer’s workshop and book preservation workshop.. All public events scheduled within Southern Maryland are free and can be viewed online at www.csmd.edu/TheBigRead.

 

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