Victoria College Lyceum Series speakers announced
Erin Gruwell

Victoria College’s list of speakers for its 2016-17 Lyceum series includes an educator who was portrayed on the silver screen by actress Hillary Swank, a Canadian journalist who has studied and written about the intentions of ISIS and an American writer who has served as a contributor for the popular HBO series “Game of Thrones.”

Erin Gruwell, whose creative and unique teaching methods inspired the 2007 movie “Freedom Writers,” will begin the series at 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at the Victoria Fine Arts Center.

The series will continue on Monday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. as Graeme Wood, the Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, will speak at the Leo J. Welder Center for the Performing Arts.

The series will conclude on Tuesday, April 4 at VC’s Sports Center as language creator David J. Peterson will provide a presentation at 12:30 p.m.

Admission is free for all three events.

“Victoria College’s Lyceum Committee spends countless hours to select a series,” VC Lyceum Chair Robert Hodde said. “The committee starts with literally thousands of speakers from which to choose. Through a process of discussion, analysis, debate and elimination, the committee decides upon a series. We believe this Lyceum series will be a great one." 

Gruwell taught freshman English at inner-city Woodrow Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. She engaged her students in learning by challenging them to overcome their obstacles by becoming “Catalysts for Change.”

Gruwell encouraged her students to write about gang violence, drug abuse, physical abuse and other stigmas inner-city high school students must deal with on a daily basis. All of Gruwell’s “Freedom Writers” graduated from high school in 1998. Her students’ journals led to the 1999 publication of “The Freedom Writers Diary,” which instantly appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list. In 2007, Gruwell’s story was told in “Freedom Writers,” which also starred Patrick Dempsey and Scott Glenn.

Gruwell’s appearance will be presented in part by the Victoria Independent School District.

Wood is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and has also written for other publications including The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic and Bloomberg Businessweek. Wood's latest submission to The Atlantic was titled "Donald Trump and the Apocalypse: Is Rome really ISIS's 'ultimate trophy.'" The Harvard graduate will speak on “What ISIS Really Wants” in his Lyceum presentation.

Peterson serves as the president of the Language Creation Society and has been creating languages or “conlangs” since 2000. HBO approached the Language Creation Society in 2009 to construct the Dothkari language for Season 1 of “Game of Thrones.”

“The series usually features four speakers, but the 2016-17 series will feature three very impressive speakers,” Hodde said.

Graeme Wood
David J. Peterson
Published: Wednesday, 08 June 2016

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