Jen Percy and Alastair Bonnett on Campus

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The DePaul Visiting Writers’ Series is excited to announce that nonfiction writer Jen Percy will be doing a reading at DePaul on February 20th at 6 p.m. in Richardson 115. Percy will be reading from her upcoming nonfiction novel Demon Camp, which begins with the story of a Special Ops soldier who believes his PTSD is caused by demons, but becomes about the author’s obsession with the strange and mesmerizing world she encounters. Here is the description from the Visiting Writers’ Series coordinator, Prof. Rebecca Johns-Trissler:

Rising star alert! Jen Percy spent three years with a group of Christians in rural Georgia who performs exorcisms on the traumatized. Percy was brought to them by a special Ops soldier just back from Afghanistan, the lone survivor of his unit, which was lost during Operation Redwings. He returned to Georgia and, struggling with PTSD and unable to integrate back into civilian life, considered suicide, until—as a last resort—he underwent an exorcism. After experiencing relief, he set out on a mission to bring soldiers from across America to Georgia for a similar deliverance.

In the tradition of Dennis Covington’s Salvation on Sand Mountain, Demon Camp is the strange and riveting tale of Percy’s journey into a world she is fascinated by, suspicious of, sympathetic to, and a world she becomes a part of. As she struggles to understand this soldier’s homecoming she crosses the line between journalist and participant, becoming exorcised herself.

This is a book about being haunted; about the demons in and outside of us. It is about a soldier looking for atonement in a world that is offering none; an agnostic who is obsessed with an exorcist. It is a mesmerizing account of how people reconcile faith and trauma and a brilliant and passionate work that heralds the arrival of a brave, new talent.

This event is free and open to the public.

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bonnett 02-28-13 finver feb6All students are invited to attend the next event in the DePaul Humanities Center‘s ’12-’13 series exploring Nostalgia and the Age of the Enlightenment. “The Problem of the Past in English Socialism” will be presented by Alastair Bonnett on Thursday, February 28th, at 6:00 p.m.,  McGowan South, room 104 (please note that this is an updated time and location than originally advertised).

Recent years have seen a numerous explorations of the nostalgic content of socialism and other nineteenth century radical traditions. Returning to this disputed territory through the political thinking of Thomas Spence (1750-1814)–one of the putative founders of the English socialist tradition–Bonnett will describe and discuss the invention of Spence as an anti-nostalgic working-class revolutionary hero by late Victorian radicals. This ‘invention’ is introduced as an episode in a struggle over the place of the past in socialism. It was a struggle which the modernisers won, pushing ‘conservative radicals’ like William Morris or Robert Blatchford to the edges of the debate, and ensuring that the nostalgic content found in Spence was ignored.  Bonnett will also make a case for Spence as a political actor who must be judged in his own terms. His insistence that politics is about having ‘plans’ for the future, and a yearning sense of loss for the land and old freedoms suggest he is best understood as a utopian. However, the fact that the British Parliament made gatherings of ‘Spenceans’ illegal in 1817 indicates that his ideas may have had at least some popular support.

Alastair Bonnett is Professor of Social Geography in the School of Geography, Politics and Sociology at Newcastle University (UK). He is the author of Left in the Past: Radicalism and the Politics of Nostalgia (Continuum, 2010) and The Idea of the West: Politics, Culture and History (Macmillan, 2004), and White Identities: Historical and International Perspectives (Longman, 1999). Bonnett has also written extensively on psychogeography and the geographical avant-garde, and runs a web site about Thomas Spence: thomas-spence-society.co.uk.

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