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Writer Joyce Carol Oates Inducted into New Jersey Hall of Fame


Steve Runk    
Director of Communications
Lewis Center for the Arts

(Princeton, NJ) Writer Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton University’s Roger S. Berlind ’52 Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts, has been inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in recognition of her outstanding contributions to the state and beyond. Oates is among 11 inductees recently announced by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Oates joined the Princeton faculty in 1978 and is the author of a number of award-winning books of fiction including novels and short story collections, as well as essay collections, in the course of a writing career that has spanned five decades.  She began writing novels at 14, after her grandmother gave her a typewriter for her birthday.  At 19, she won the Mademoiselle magazine fiction contest.

Much of her fiction has been set in upstate rural New York and has explored family relationships, many of them plagued by violence, poverty and addiction.  Some of her most acclaimed novels are We Were The Mulvaneys (1996), a portrait of a family's fall from grace; Blonde (2000), which portrays the life of Marilyn Monroe; The Falls (2004), a haunting story about Niagara Falls; and The Gravedigger's Daughter (2007) which is based on the life of Oates' grandmother. 

In addition to her fiction, Oates is known for her literary criticism and essays, which have examined such diverse themes as boxing, serial killers, poetry and art.  Her many literary awards include the National Book Award, the PEN/Malamud Award honoring excellence in the art of the short story, the O. Henry Prize for continued achievement in the short story, and the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.  In 2010 Oates was awarded The National Humanities Medal.

The New Jersey Hall of Fame was created to “honor citizens who have made invaluable contributions to society and the world beyond.”  The Hall of Fame’s mission is to encourage children to strive for excellence by presenting significant and powerful role models as a source of learning, inspiration and hope for young people.  In addition to its annual award designations, the organization holds an essay contest for school children.

“I am deeply honored to join the impressive list of inductees for 2012,” noted Oates upon learning of the designation. “I am so pleased to see artists, and in particular writers, recognized by the Hall of Fame for the important contribution they make to our state and to society.”

To select inductees each year a panel of 30 individuals from diverse fields propose 125 individuals, 25 in each of five categories. A Voting Academy made up of over 100 prominent New Jersey organizations narrows the field to 6 in each category. Those 30 finalists are then voted on by the public.

Other inductees for 2012 include actor Christopher Reeve, a native of Princeton, media mogul Samuel I. Newhouse, business leader John Dorrance, actor Michael Douglas, jazz singer Sarah Vaughn, basketball coach Bob Hurley, athlete Milt Campbell, former New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, Wild West Show star Annie Oakley, and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band. Literary figures previously inducted since the founding of the Hall of Fame in 2008 include Toni Morrison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Philip Roth, all of whom have ties to Princeton, along with Judy Blume, Mary Higgins Clark, William Carlos Williams, and Walt Whitman.

The Hall of Fame “Class of 2012” will be inducted at a ceremony on June 9 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. The ceremony will be open to the public.

Link to photo:
Photo caption:  Joyce Carol Oates, Professor of the Humanities and Professor of Creative Writing in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton is among 11 individuals inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame
Photo credit:  Photo by Frank Wojciechowski

The Lewis Center for the Arts is part of a major initiative announced by President Shirley M. Tilghman in 2006 to fully embrace the arts as an essential part of the educational experience for all who study and teach at Princeton University. The Lewis Center for the Arts will have a significant impact on the University and the larger community it serves. The public is welcomed to a full range of lectures, exhibitions, concerts and performances at the Center. Many of the Center’s events are free or charge a nominal admission fee.

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