Gore Vidal, the outspoken author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter and political activist, gave the 2011 Media@McGill Beaverbrook Annual Lecture on Friday, 29 April, at 6:30 p.m.
This free public lecture was held on the campus of McGill University, Leacock Building, 855 Sherbrooke West, in room 132. (map)
Throughout his long and controversial career, Gore Vidal has been a prominent figure of interest to the American and international media as well as a keen and critical observer of the media. Highlighting this experience, Media@McGill was proud to partner with the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival to present the 2011 Media@McGill Beaverbrook Annual Lecture, entitled "Questioning Gore Vidal: On the Media".
Gore Vidal has been a part of some of the most important literary and intellectual movements of the 20th century. From his early novel The City and the Pillar (1948) which dealt frankly with homosexuality, to his Narratives of Empire series - which included historical novels that explored the national myths surrounding some of the US's most iconoclastic symbols, figures like Abraham Lincoln, Aaron Burr and ideas like Hollywood - Gore Vidal has been a professional challenger of the American mythological view of itself. His plays (The Best Man) have been performed on Broadway, his screenplays (Ben Hur) have been made into blockbuster films and he even ran for Congress (in 1960). Gore Vidal has also been a prolific and provocative writer of critical essays and memoirs, and these perhaps most of all have ensured his place in the canon of leading intellectuals of the 20th century. Well into his eighties, Vidal continues to challenge assumptions surrounding American military and economic power and calls on the American people (when not openly hostile towards them) to move beyond their provincial tendencies and preferences to navel-gaze. His 2002 book Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace or How We Came To Be So Hated, written in the shadow of 9/11, was his attempt to come to terms with how US foreign policy contributed (and continues to contribute) to the view of America and Americans around the world. Vidal's latest work is the self-titled historical book Gore Vidal: Snapshots in History's Glare and this fascinating memento offers a visual journey through the artefacts of his very 20th century life: photos of his childhood, letters from movie stars, telegrams from other writers, and notes written from public figures like the Kennedys and Eleanor Roosevelt.
"Questioning Gore Vidal: On the Media" was animated by Media@McGill's Marc Raboy, Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communications.