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Rushdie Kicks Off Annual Arts and Lecture Series

Written by Arielle Cotoia

Rushdie-please-credit-Beowulf Sheehan-PENAmericanCenter.jpgWillimantic, Conn. - Award-winning author Salman Rushdie will open Eastern Connecticut State University's 11th Annual Arts and Lecture Series on Tuesday, Oct. 4 in the Geissler Gymnasium.  Like all Arts and Lecture events, Rushdie's lecture begins at 7 p.m.

            Rushdie is the author of 10 fictional novels inspired by his homeland of India, including "The Satanic Verses"; "Grimus"; and "Midnight's Children," winner of the Booker Prize for Fiction, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Arts Council Writers' Award and the English-Speaking Union Award. His third published novel, "Shame" won the Prixu du Meilleur Livre √Čtranger.

            Rushdie's most recent works include the children's book, "Haroun and the Sea," which won a Writers' Guild Award and was later adapted for the stage; "The Moor's Last Sigh"; "The Ground Beneath Her Feet"; "Fury"; "Shalimar the Clown," which was a finalist for the Whitbread Book Awards;  and "The Enchantress of Florence."

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The Arts and Lecture series continues on Nov. 14 with a lecture by television and film actor Dan Lauria, best known for his portrayal of Jack Arnold on the American television series, "The Wonder Years," which ran from 1988 to 1993.  Lauria's lecture is also in the Betty R. Tipton Room.

Lauria has appeared on such television series as "How I Met Your Mother"; "Army Wives"; "The Mentalist"; "Law and Order: Criminal Intent"; "Smallville"; "JAG"; "Criminal Minds"; "Costello"; "Party of Five"; and "Amazing Grace."  He has been in numerous TV movies and had a role in the 1996 movie "Independence Day."

Lauria also has written, directed and produced for the stage. He appeared in the off-Broadway production of "A Stone Carver" in 2006; played Jimmy Hoffa in Brian Lee Franklin's "Good Bobby," a fictionalized account of Robert Kennedy's rise; and in 2010, starred as Vince Lombardi in the Broadway play "Lombardi."

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On Feb. 15, 2012, the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band brings its special brand of classic jazz, blues and New Orleans ragtime to Eastern's Shafer Auditorium. The band was organized in 1970 and has entertained audiences across America, as well as in the former Soviet Union, Japan, Taiwan and England. Notable venues include the open-air theater in Disney World; the Boardwalk in Atlantic City; the Galaxy Jazz Festival in Milwaukee; the Embarcadero in San Francisco and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The group has also performed on numerous radio and television broadcasts across the nation.

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Veteran journalist Laura Ling wraps up the 2011-12 Arts and Lecture Series on March 13 with a lecture in the Betty R. Tipton Room.  Ling is the host and reporter on "E! Investigates," a documentary series on the E! Network that explores such topics as teen suicide and the challenges faced by military spouses.

Prior to joining the E! Network, Ling served as vice president of Current TV's journalism department and created Current's weekly investigative documentary series "Vanguard."  She also worked as a correspondent reporting on crucial issues around the world, including slave labor in the Amazon; Mexico's drug war; Internet censorship in China; and women's rights in Turkey.

In March 2009, while reporting on the trafficking of North Korean women, Ling was detained by North Korean soldiers along the Chinese-North Korean border. She and her colleague Euna Lee were arrested and held captive in North Korea for 140 days before being granted a special pardon and returning to the United States. 

In prior years, Eastern's Arts and Lecture Series has brought such world-class speakers and artists to campus as Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough; noted author John Updike; Boston Celtic legend Bill Russell; "Bill Nye the Science Guy"; renowned actor James Earl Jones; ocean explorer Robert Ballard; feminist Gloria Steinem; Princeton University scholar Cornell West; the Grammy-nominated Eroica Trio; film director Spike Lee; and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra.

Tickets for Arts and Lectures Series events are $10 for the general public and can be reserved by calling (860) 465-0036 or e-mailing For more information on the 2011-12 series, visit


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