Christina Bieber Lake
Christina Bieber Lake is the Clyde S. Kilby professor of English at Wheaton College where she teaches classes in American literature and literary theory. Lake has authored several essays on Flannery O’Connor as well as a monograph entitled The Incarnational Art of Flannery O’Connor (Mercer UP, 2005). Her most recent book, Beyond the Story: American Fiction and the Limits of Materialism, argues that contemporary American storytelling is an act of love for persons that inherently resists scientific naturalism’s account of human experience.
Both my public lecture and my class sessions will focus on the contemporary relevance of Flannery O’Connor as a writer capable of inviting readers to the hard work of changing people’s minds and hearts about issues of ultimate concern. Chief among these is learning how to love others in a country increasingly bent on demonizing those we do not understand. Although all of her work can be seen as displacing readers into a position of cognitive dissonance, we will take a close look at “The Displaced Person,” “Temple of the Holy Ghost,” “Parker’s Back,” and The Violent Bear it Away as texts that champion the grotesque as the means to create the space necessary for readers to be transformed.
O’Connor knew that a good story is one of the few things powerful enough to displace us from our pet illusions about ourselves and the world, laughing all the way.