April 1, 2005 - The University of Tennessee,
in partnership with the City of Knoxville, Knox County and other community
organizations, will host a James Agee Celebration throughout April
to highlight and explore the Knoxville native's work in literature
and the arts.
The series of exhibitions, theater adaptations, films and concerts
and lectures will culminate with James Agee Week, April 13 -17 and
wrap up with dedication of the James Agee Park.
Michael Lofaro, UT Lindsay Young Professor of English, is event chair.
Lynn J. Champion, director of outreach for the College of Arts and
Sciences, is associate chair.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for his Knoxville-based novel, "A
Death in the Family," the late Agee was internationally acclaimed
for his screenplays for "The African Queen" and "The
Night of the Hunter." Agee was also a poet and journalist, who
wrote for Time, Fortune and Life magazines and established film criticism
as an art form.
Agee's career highlights also included his avant-garde experimentation
in the now-classic novel "Let Us Now Praise Famous Men"
and his work with two of the most famous photographers of his time,
Walker Evans and Helen Levitt.
His writing has inspired a large body of music by composers from Samuel
Barber to Aaron Copland.
"The celebration is a wonderful opportunity to study Agee's breadth
of achievements in the 30's, 40's and early 50's that serve as a cultural
barometer for that time," Lofaro said. "It also gives us
a chance to learn more about how the popular image and legend of James
Agee as a romantic overachiever quite often overshadows the fact that
he was a much broader artist and finer craftsman than many realize."
Champion said that Agee's many connections to East Tennessee warrant
an event of this magnitude.
"The celebration is one of the best examples of a town-gown partnership
in which the University joins with local government and community
organizations to celebrate our community's wonderful cultural assets,"
"The genius and talent of James Agee are of such breadth and
scope that it takes an entire community to celebrate him."
Among the highlights are six art and essay exhibitions at venues throughout
Knoxville including the Knoxville Museum of Art (KMA), UT's Downtown
Gallery, the East Tennessee History Center and the Knox County Public
Library. The main exhibit, "James Agee: A Celebration of His
Work," will open on Friday, April 1 at UT's Hoskins Library and
will run through August 15 and the exhibition of Walker Evans' photographs,
including some never before seen works, will continue at the UT Downtown
Gallery until April 17.
"All the Way Home," Tad Mosel's Pulitzer-prize winning stage
adaptation of "A Death in the Family," will be performed
at 8 p.m., April 7 through April 23 at the Clarence Brown Theater.
"The Man Who Lives Here is Loony," a one-man play by R.B.
Morris, UT libraries writer-in-residence, will be performed at 7 p.m.
April 10 and at 8 p.m. on April 11 at the Carousel Theatre.
Documentaries about Agee and his work will be shown throughout the
month as part of the celebration's film festival. The Knoxville Museum
of Art will screen "Mr. Lincoln: The Omnibus Television Series,"
at 5 p.m., April 12. Showings of "The Night of the Hunter"
will be at 8 p.m., April 14 in Hodges Library and "The African
Queen" at 8 p.m., April 15 in the University Center.
Agee Week will feature dramatic readings and commentary on his works
by creative writers including his daughter, Deedee Agee; nationally
acclaimed poet Fred Chappell and novelist David Madden; Paul Sprecher,
trustee of the James Agee Trust; and several of UT's published authors
on Agee, including Lofaro and Paul Ashdown, UT professor of journalism
and electronic media. Bruce Wheeler, UT professor emeritus of history,
will speak on "James Agee's Knoxville," a discussion of
historical landmarks, which will be followed by "Walking Agee's
Knoxville," a guided tour led by Charles Aiken, UT professor
UT's music ensembles will perform the world premier of "From
Barber to Copland: The Inspiration of James Agee," conducted
by Roger Stephens, director of the School of Music, at 8 p.m., Saturday,
April 16 in the UT Music Hall.
Charles Thomas, community and greenway activist and chair of the James
Agee Park Committee, will lead the dedication of the new park. Set
for 2:30 p.m., Sunday, April 17, at the corner of James Agee Street
and Laurel Avenue, the ceremony will involve UT, Knoxville city officials
and representatives of the Fort Sanders Neighborhood Association.
A dramatic reading by Ashdown and free concert by the R.B. Morris
Band will follow.
Nearly all events are free and every event is designed for general
public. On site registration required for Agee Week presentations.
Parking is available at the University Center Parking Garage on Phillip
For a complete and the most up to date schedule, visit http://jamesageecelebration.utk.edu.
The James Agee Celebration is made possible by the University of Tennessee,
Tennessee Arts Commission, the Knoxville News Sentinel and WUOT 91.9
FM radio. Key community partners include the City of Knoxville and
Knox County governments, libraries and schools, the Arts and Cultural
Alliance, Keep Knoxville Beautiful, the Dogwood Arts Festival and
the Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corporation.