News briefs

Achebe speaks

Noted African novelist Chinua Achebe received a warm welcome from a capacity crowd in Irvine Auditorium when he spoke on “A Celebration of Black Literature” Feb. 14. The author of “Things Fall Apart,” this year’s Penn Reading Project book, devoted much of his address to the subject of portraying the humanity of African peoples. While noting that the characters in his novels share universal human traits, he also criticized authors like Joseph Conrad who, in their portrayals of Africa, overlooked the Africans. After his address, a group of his fellow Ibo people in the audience sang a hymn of welcome.

All write now

The marriage between Penn’s three key writing resources has led to the creation of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing. The center, which debuts in July, will include the Critical Writing Program, currently known as the Writing Program; the Creative Writing Program, now housed in the English Department; and the Kelly Writers House, the campus’ literary arts hub. Kelly Family Professor of English Alan J. Filreis has been appointed director of the new center. The integration of the three programs will expand the traditional writing curriculum to include out-of-the classroom writers’ workshops, symposia, readings, student-created literary projects and publications and the activities of the Writers House.

Tune in to tune out

When the ego takes a beating, many click on to tune out personal shortcomings, according to a new study by Sophia Moskalenko, a doctoral student in pyschology at Penn, and her colleague, Steven Heine of the University of British Columbia. The study, which appeared in the January issue of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that subjects who received low intelligence test scores that conflicted with their self-image watched television longer and waited longer before averting their eyes from the screen.

Originally published on February 27, 2003