CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University will mark the 100th birthday this month of one of its most-recognized faculty members, acclaimed American novelist Bernard Malamud, with a celebration and the launch of a search for early copies of his book, “A New Life.”
The centenary celebration, featuring a display from the university’s Malamud archives, will be held from 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, April 24, in the Valley Library at OSU. Neil Davison, an associate professor of English, will give a brief presentation; OSU English majors will read from “A New Life,” and archival materials from the library’s Malamud collection will be on display.
The event will be held in Special Collections on the fifth floor of the library, 201 S.W. Waldo Place.
Malamud, who died in 1986, taught at OSU from 1949 to 1961. His books include “The Natural,” and “The Fixer,” for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. “A New Life,” published in 1961, is based on Malamud’s time in Corvallis.
Two members of the English faculty are searching for annotated, first-edition copies of “A New Life” that may have circulated in Corvallis in the 1960s. There are rumors that several copies of the book exist in Corvallis, with notations connecting real people and places in Corvallis to the characters and situations in the book, said assistant professor Ehren Pflugfelder.
Pflugfelder and assistant professor Raymond Malewitz are hoping one or more such copies still exist. They would like to borrow the books for use in a new digital humanities course being planned for 2015.
Digital humanities courses are a way for researchers to help students use new, technology-based research methods. Using the annotated books and other materials from the Malamud archives, students could create projects such as digital maps of places in the book, or a field guide to Malamud’s work in Corvallis, Pflugfelder said.
“We plan to offer the digital humanities course and focus on Malamud, but if we found an annotated copy of ‘A New Life,’ we would build the course around it,” Pflugfelder said. “It would be great raw material for the students to work from.”
Anyone who might have an early annotated copy of “A New Life,” or who knows of one, can contact Pflugfelder at Ehren.firstname.lastname@example.org.