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Northfield Native and Renowned Author Siri Hustvedt to Present Carleton Convocation

February 15, 2013
By Jacob Cohn '13

Siri Hustvedt, an acclaimed author whose work has been read worldwide and translated into over thirty languages, will deliver Carleton College’s convocation address on Friday, Feb. 22 at 10:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. Hustvedt’s talk, titled “Reflections on Creativity: Memory, Imagination, Narrative and the Self,” will draw upon her study of psychoanalysis, philosophy and neuroscience in looking at how personal experience and memory become transformed into narrative. Convocation is free and open to the public. Convocations are also streamed live and can be viewed online at

Hustvedt is the author of five novels, two books of essays, a work of nonfiction and a book of poetry. Her works repeatedly pose questions about the nature of identity, selfhood and perception and delve into issues related to mental health. Hustvedt’s latest novel, The Summer Without Men (Picador, 2011), focuses on issues of love and marriage; What I Loved (Hodder and Stoughton, 2003), perhaps her best-known novel, focuses on grief and hysteria. Hustvedt’s forays into nonfiction include her recent book The Shaking Woman or A History of My Nerves (Picador, 2010), a “neurological memoir” that takes an interdisciplinary approach to studying her own seizure disorder. In her convocation presentation, Hustvedt will focus on the source of creativity, and the role of the self in the production of fiction.  “The secret to creativity,” she once wrote, “lies not in the so-called higher cognitive processes, but in dreamlike reconfigurations... that take place unconsciously.”

Hustvedt is a Northfield native and graduate of Northfield High School, St. Olaf College and Columbia University. Her father, the late Lloyd Hustvedt, was chair of the Norwegian department at St. Olaf. Some of her work, such as her 2008 novel The Sorrows of an American (Picador), has been set in rural Minnesota. Hustvedt married Paul Auster, a critically acclaimed author and screenwriter, in 1982.

This convocation address is the culmination of a three-day residency in Northfield for Hustvedt and her husband, author Paul Auster. Auster will be at Carleton as the Fred W. and Margaret C. Schuster Distinguished Visiting Lecturer in Literature, while Hustvedt comes as the Christopher U. Light Lecturer in Literature. In addition to individual faculty seminars open to interested Carleton faculty members, Hustvedt and Auster will host a joint reading of their work at Carleton’s Great Hall on Wednesday, Feb. 20 beginning at 4:30 p.m., followed by a book signing and reception. They will also participate in a joint interview on Thursday, Feb. 21 beginning at 11:30 a.m. in the Viking Theater at St. Olaf College’s Buntrock Commons, led by St. Olaf writer-in-residence Ben Percy.

For more information about this event, including disability accommodations, contact the Carleton College Office of College Relations at (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located on First Street between College and Winona Streets in Northfield.