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Noted Rutgers professor to speak about 'A Writer's Life'
Wed. June 24th, 4:00 pm

Guides accompany Michael Aaron Rockland (on the far right) up a cable on the George Washington Bridge, to a perch 604 feet above the New York tower's foundation. Photo used courtesy of Michael Rockland.

Michael Aaron Rockland, Rutgers' Professor of American Studies, will discuss the challenges and rewards of "A Writer's Life" on Wednesday June 24th, starting at 4:00 pm, in the Alexander Library on Rutgers-New Brunswick campus. The event is free and open to the public. A light reception will follow the talk.

In his career Rockland has successfully moved back and forth between scholarship, journalism, and fiction, whereas most university professors concentrate only on the first. In this talk Rockland will discuss the challenges each of these kinds of literature demand and how and why he uses them all. He will discuss and read from several of his works.

Rockland's early career was in the U.S. diplomatic service, during which he was a cultural attaché in both Argentina and Spain. He is the author of eleven books, three of which have received special recognition. His first book, Sarmiento's Travels in the United States in 1847 (Princeton), was chosen by The Washington Post's Book World as one of the "Fifty Best Books of the Year." His novel, A Bliss Case (Coffee House) was a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year." A book he co-wrote, Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike (Rutgers) was chosen by the New Jersey State Library as one of the "Ten Best Books Ever Written on New Jersey or by a New Jerseyan." His latest book is The George Washington Bridge: Poetry in Steel (Rutgers).

Rockland's twelfth book, the novel "Stones," is forthcoming in fall 2009. Except for a brief last chapter, it all takes place in one day in a series of Jewish cemeteries out on Brooklyn, Queens, and further out on Long Island. The two key characters are a middle aged man and his aged mother, their own relationship and their relationship with the dead. The title has three levels of meaning: on the primary level it suggests tombstones; on the secondary level it refers to the Jewish custom of placing stones, rather than flowers, when visiting graves; but on the third and most important level it is about the "stone" the protagonist carries around inside him, the thought that he has not done what he had hoped to do with his life and how, in one day, because of the startling revelations about this family, he redeems his life by changing course.

Rockland has won five major teaching/lecturing awards, including the National Teaching Award in American Studies. He has lectured in some twenty-one countries around the world. A regular contributor to New Jersey Monthly magazine, he has also worked in television and film production, mostly for P.B.S. He is regularly interviewed on N.P.R.

The talk and reception will be held in the Scholarly Communication Center, on the 4th floor of the Archibald S. Alexander Library. To RSVP for this event, please go to: For more information on this event, or for parking assistance, please contact Harry Glazer at

This event is cosponsored by the New Brunswick Summer Session and the Rutgers University Libraries.

Posted May 26, 2009