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Rooke Lecture Discusses Public Response to The Diviners
January 1, 2007

On January 18 over 80 people attended a panel discussion examining the public response to Margaret Laurence’s novel, The Diviners, in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite the large crowd, however, the discussion felt more like an intimate conversation between friends as the panel and members of the audience interacted and shared their personal memories about one of Peterborough’s great authors and the debate on whether or not to ban her last novel in Peterborough schools. After a much publicized debate, the Board decided not to ban The Diviners, although many still believe that it was.

The discussion, organized as part of Trent University’s ninth annual Rooke Lecture series, was moderated by Trent English professor and censorship expert Leonard Conolly. Panel members included: Trent professor Fred Tromly, who, as a parent, was a member of the Board’s book review committee in 1985; former mayor Sylvia Sutherland, who, at the time, hosted a local television show in which Margaret Laurence appeared to finally speak out about the debate; and Jean Cole, a close personal friend to Ms. Laurence.

The Rooke Lectures, which have been presented annually since 1998, honour the memory of the late Barbara Rooke, chair of Trent University's Department of English Literature from 1969 to 1973. This year's series explores what it means to "go public" -- to "publish" – and how that act resonates in the political, economic, and aesthetic spheres to influence our culture.

To learn more about upcoming Rooke lectures, please visit the Trent Daily News site.