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Sondheim and the American musical theatre focus of College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lectureship March 24

photo of Bob McLaughlin

Professor of English Robert McLaughlin will take a turn with Stephen Sondheim for the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lectureship at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 24, in the Old Main Room of the Bone Student Center. He will give a talk titled So Many Possibilities: Stephen Sondheim and the American Musical Theater, based on his upcoming book of the same name.

The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by Illinois State’s College of Arts and Sciences. During the lecture, McLaughlin will be accompanied by Chad Kirvan and Colleen Longo.

McLaughlin, who has been with the Department of English since 1988, earned his Ph.D. from Fordham University with a dissertation on Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. He has published widely on Pynchon and postmodern literature and culture in such journals as Narrative, Critique, symploke and Pynchon Notes, as well as in many essay collections. Recently, his work on the post-postmodern movement in U.S. fiction has helped define the field’s conversations.

Combining his research in postmodern literature with his lifelong love of the musical theater, McLaughlin’s work has been published in the Journal of American Drama and Theater, the Sondheim Review and The Oxford Handbook of Sondheim Studies. Outside of academia, he has had the chance to perform in several Sondheim musicals at Bloomington’s Community Players and other area theaters.

McLaughlin has presented his research nationally and internationally, including conferences at Paderborn University, Kings College-London, Durham University and the Sorbonne. He is editor of Innovations: An Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Fiction from the Dalkey Archive, a collection that makes the case for a tradition of experimental fiction.

With Professor of English Sally Parry, McLaughlin is the co-author of We’ll Always Have the Movies: American Cinema in World War II, a comprehensive study of the complex ways Hollywood films provided the means for the U.S. public to understand the war. He and Parry have frequently presented on World War II movies locally, nationally and internationally. The two are completing a companion study of New York theater during the war.

McLaughlin served as editor of the Review of Contemporary Fiction from 1993 to 2005. He and Parry have served as area chairs for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association for the last five years. He has served as the Department of English’s associate chair and director of undergraduate studies. He has been co-advisor for Illinois State’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta – the national English honor society – and is the department’s Honors liaison.

He has been awarded the University Research Initiative Award, the Outstanding University Teacher Award, the Stan and Sandy Rives Excellence in Undergraduate Education Award, and the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teacher Award.

For more information on the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Lectureship, or for special accommodations, contact the College of Arts and Sciences at (309) 438-5669.