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News Release

November 07, 2003

U of G Massey Lecturer to be featured on CBC

University of Guelph English professor Thomas King will be featured on CBC Newsworld this weekend discussing the 2003 Massey Lectures.

The Newsworld special, "The Massey Lectures: Thomas King," airs Nov. 8 at 8 a.m. and Nov. 9 at 4 p.m. It features an interview with King and show excepts from his first lecture, delivered Nov. 5 at McGill University. King will deliver the second lecture tonight at 8 p.m. in St. John's. Next week, he'll deliver the remaining lectures in Victoria, Calgary and Toronto.

On Nov. 19 at 7 p.m., King will give a talk on the Lectures at Chalmers United Church in Guelph. Tickets are available for $3 at the Bookshelf.

Titled "The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative," the series will be recorded and broadcast on the CBC radio show Ideas, and is available as a set of five CDs and published in a book of the same name.

A Canadian literary tradition since 1961, past Massey Lectures have been given by Northrop Frye, Martin Luther King, Doris Lessing, Noam Chomsky and Ursula Franklin.

King uses personal anecdotes, autobiographical experiences, and academic research in the lectures to explore how culture and social circumstances in North America have been crafted. King, who was born of a Cherokee father and a mother of Greek and German descent, said he focuses mainly on Native concerns in an attempt to explain the dichotomies that are found at the heart of society and culture.

Each lecture explores a theme of the native experience. Through a comparison of native and Christian Creation stories, the first talk examines the inherent differences in the ways native and non-native westerners perceive the world. "If you want to know something about a culture, knowing their creation story is a great help," said King. Subsequent lectures explore native history, literature, politics, popular culture and social protest.

He said writing the lectures allowed him to talk about things that annoy him, from Canadian and American laws that can make aboriginals legally extinct with status and non-status classing systems, to companies and sports teams that make money from native stereotypes.

The cover of the Massey Lectures book features a photograph that King took to illustrate these common stereotypes. "It's a montage of Indian materials. If you look at North American culture, there are all sorts of things that use Indian iconography, such as Indian Motorcycle Club, Indian Spirit Tobacco, Chicago Black Hawks, Cleveland Indians, Crazy Horse Malt Liquor."

King created and starred in the popular CBC radio show Dead Dog Café Comedy Hour and is a renowned novelist whose books have been published in several languages and shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and Commonwealth Writers Prize. Green Grass, Running Water was taught in more undergraduate Canadian literature courses than any other work in 2001, and Medicine River was made into a 1997 feature film starring Graham Greene.

For more information, visit the CBC website

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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