Symposium to Celebrate “New Voices and Visions”

May 8 event will feature best-selling authors from UCR’s faculty

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“Living the Promise Symposium: New Voices and Visions” on May 8 will feature some of UCR’s best-selling, best-known writers.

RIVERSIDE, California – Artists have long examined the human condition, offering unexpected insights and perspectives of people and places both familiar and unfamiliar. The University of California, Riverside will celebrate some of its best-known, best-selling authors and their unique visions of the world in a symposium on Monday, May 8.

The event, “Living the Promise Symposium: New Voices and Visions,” will feature authors Reza Aslan, host and executive producer of CNN’s documentary series “Believer with Reza Aslan”; Emily Rapp Black, who recently won a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship; Tod Goldberg, winner of the Silver Pen Award; Susan Straight, a National Book Award finalist; and Peter Graham, associate dean for arts and humanities in UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS).

“New Voices and Visions” is free and open to the public. The symposium begins at 6 p.m. in the UCR Alumni & Visitors Center, 3701 Canyon Crest Drive. Parking for this event is free in Lot 24, across the street from the Alumni & Visitors Center. Reservations are requested and may be made online.

The symposium is the last of seven in a yearlong series of events that reflect key themes of the university’s comprehensive fundraising campaign announced in October 2016. The $300 million campaign will conclude in 2020 and seeks funding for student support, faculty research, and infrastructure. Campaign themes align with goals outlined in UCR 2020, the university’s strategic plan.

The program will include a clip from an episode of “Believer,” and Emily Rapp Black and Susan Straight will read selections from their work. A Q&A will follow the panel discussion.

Reza Aslan, professor of creative writing, is an internationally renowned author and scholar of religions. His books include the New York Times bestseller “Zealot: The Life   and Times of Jesus of Nazareth,” and international bestseller “No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.” He appears frequently on television and radio shows as a religion and political analyst, and created, hosted, and produced CNN’s documentary series “Believer with Reza Aslan.” He is also a recipient of the prestigious James Joyce Award, given to those who have excelled in a field of human endeavor and have made a profound impact on the world around them.

Emily Rapp Black, assistant professor of creative writing, teaches and writes around subjects related to disability studies, feminist theology, medical narratives, medical ethics, and the literature of embodiment, trauma, and recovery. She is the author of “Poster Child: A Memoir” and “The Still Point of the Turning World,” which was a New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the PEN USA Award in Nonfiction. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, Los Angeles Times, O, the Oprah   Magazine, Salon, the Wall Street Journal, and many other publications, academic   journals, and essay anthologies. Since 2012, she has been a regular book reviewer for the Boston Globe and she was recently awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship.

Tod Goldberg, administrative director of UC Riverside’s Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the Palm Desert Center, won the 2016 Silver Pen Award presented by the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. He is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including the novels “Gangsterland,” which    was a finalist for the Hammett Prize for literary excellence in the field of crime-writing; “The House of Secrets,” which he co-authored with Brad Meltzer; and “Living Dead Girl,” a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. He has authored two collections of short stories, and wrote for the popular “Burn Notice” TV series. His short fiction has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including Black Clock, The Normal School, Post Road, and Las Vegas Noir.

Susan Straight, distinguished professor of creative writing, is the author of eight novels    and two books for children, an essayist, short story writer, and reviewer. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and Lannan Literary Prize. Her novel “Highwire Moon” was a National Book Award finalist in 2001 and “A Million Nightingales” was shortlisted for the 2006 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction. She received the university’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008, is currently director of the Master of Fine Arts Program, and serves on the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at UCR, where she has taught since 1988.

Peter Graham, professor of philosophy and linguistics and associate dean for arts and humanities, supervises 14 arts and humanities departments in CHASS. He is the associate editor of the Journal of the American Philosophical Association, chair of the American Philosophical Association Committee on International Cooperation, member of the board of officers of the American Philosophical Association, and director of the Epistemology and Philosophy of Psychology Workshop at UCR. His primary research    and teaching areas are epistemology, social epistemology, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of biology, philosophy of social science, and philosophy of language and linguistics.

More information about the comprehensive fundraising campaign is available at

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