Aug 13, 2020

The Big Read brings big names

The Collegian

A symposium tribute to author Ray Bradbury will bring several best-selling and award-winning authors to Fresno State for a panel discussion on Bradbury’s novel Fahrenheit 451.

The two-day Ray Bradbury Tribute Symposium will feature presentations from science fiction artists, Bradbury’s biographer, Tim Hamilton, who adapted Fahrenheit 451 into a graphic novel, and a televised presentation from Bradbury himself.

The event is a collaborative effort between the Henry Madden Library, the Arne Nixon Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and the Fresno County Public Library.

The symposium is part of a national, monthlong event called the Big Read. The Big Read was created in 2006 to inspire Americans to read more, said Roberta Barton, the public information officer at Fresno County Library.

“The Big Read is intended to restore reading to the forefront of American culture,” Barton said. “The goal is to get everyone reading great American classic literature again.”

Barton said Fahrenheit 451 was chosen because it appeals to a wide audience and its message is relevant today.

“One of the reasons that Fahrenheit 451 was selected as this year’s Big Read book is that it appeals to both younger and older adults,” Barton said. “The book’s elements of science fiction, media saturation and suppression of individuality are all themes which have proven popular with students.”

The graphic novel will be available for sale and a book signing.

Carpenter said she is pleased the Fresno County Library worked with Fresno State when selecting an author to feature at the opening event. She said she decided to highlight Tim Hamilton’s graphic novel, because it would appeal to a younger crowd.

“I just thought his book would be a perfect match,” Carpenter said.

Carpenter said the event is a great way to bring the community together.

“I really like the idea of the whole community focusing on one book, it gives us all something in common,” Carpenter said.

The symposium will conclude with a panel discussion and presentations from renowned authors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Fresno State Student Recreation Center. Hamilton will present at 2:20 p.m. at the symposium, and Bradbury will speak at 4 p.m. Attendees can come and go throughout the event.

The moderator for Saturday’s event is Dr. Howard Hendrix, a local science fiction author and Fresno State English professor.

Hendrix said the symposium highlights the necessity of literature and the academic community in society.

“Literacy and the future of the intellectual life are key to the mission of the university,” Hendrix said. “Bradbury’s book is an important commentary on both concerns, and is therefore relevant at Fresno State and throughout our culture.”

He said the symposium offers a unique opportunity for people to understand the book, its author and its relevance to our culture.

“It provides a rare opportunity for students and the community to go into greater depth on an important book, its author and its importance to American arts,” Hendrix said.

Jeanne Johnson, the Big Read project manager, said the event is funded through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

She said the Student Recreation Center was chosen as the location for the tribute symposium, because it is a practical space that contains all the necessary technical equipment for the live, teleconference interview with Bradbury.

“We hope Fresno State students will join members of the community in attending this event,” Johnson said.

Johnson said students and community members should attend the symposium, because it will give them a chance to interact with some of the best modern science fictions authors. She said Bradbury is an innovative author in the science fiction genre. His presentation should not be missed, because his work is still applicable to modern society, Johnson said.

“Ray Bradbury is recognized as a groundbreaker in making science fiction a respected literary genre,” she said. “The message of Fahrenheit 451 is as relevant today as it was when first written.”

Both events are free and open to the public.

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