Esther Freier Lecture


Here's to the next 15!


Thank you for joining us last year to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Esther Freier Endowed Lectures in Literature, which began February 5, 2001, with Jamaica Kincaid as our guest. We look forward to seeing you at our next free event at the University of Minnesota campus, as the series continues to explore literarature and the humanities.

Image of Andrew Solomon
Photo: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Thursday, April 13, 2017
Andrew Solomon: "Dispatches from Everywhere: Change & Resilience"
7:30 pm, Coffman Union Theater, 300 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis


The Department of English presents nonfiction writer Andrew Solomon, who won the National Book Award for The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression (2001) and the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for the 2012 follow-up, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity. Both were bestsellers. In spring 2016 Solomon published Far and Away: Reporting from the Brink of Change, which the Minneapolis Star Tribune called a “deeply humane book [that] cuts against the grain, urging readers to exit their comfort zones and engage with new people and unfamiliar points of view. . . . Solomon's reporting from far-flung places is surprisingly powerful, a bighearted response to a divisive era.”

With a PhD in psychology from Jesus College, Cambridge, Solomon is a Professor of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University Medical Center. He is also President of PEN American Center, which advocates for free expression, and is an activist in LGBT rights, mental health, and the arts.

Solomon will also answer audience questions and sign books.

Free and open to the public! No tickets or reservations necessary.

More author readings are offered through our creative writing program's Edelstein-Keller Visiting Writer Series.



About Esther Freier

The Esther Freier literature series hosts two free lectures each year featuring various prize-winning authors, from Zadie Smith to David Mitchell, Louise Glück to Natasha Trethewey.

The literary legacy that Esther Freier envisioned began in 2001, when celebrated novelist and essayist Jamaica Kincaid inaugurated the Esther Freier Endowed Lecture in Literature series. A clinical laboratory chemist and professor, Freier had a deep and profound love for literature and the humanities. She wanted to leave a legacy that would benefit the public and inspire emerging authors. In her will, Freier created an endowment that would bring prize-winning national and international authors to campus for free, public lectures and informal visits with students.

Esther Freier was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, in 1925. She moved to Minneapolis while still a child and spent her entire academic (BS ‘46, MS ‘56) and professional career of 45 years at the University of Minnesota. She co-authored the first paper dealing with quality control in clinical chemistry, winning several awards. When she retired in 1991, she held the only endowed professorship in medical technology in the nation. That year, Freier served as the first woman president of the Academy of Clinical and Laboratory Physicians and Scientists and was re-elected the following year.

Esther Freier was a teacher, friend, and mentor to many. The Department of English is deeply grateful for her generosity to us, the University, and the community.

Previous Freier Lecturers

  • October, 2016: Claudia Rankine & Marilynne Robinson
  • April, 2016: Abraham Verghese
  • October, 2015: Jeanette Winterson
  • February, 2015: Lynn Nottage
  • October, 2014: James McBride
  • April, 2014: David Mitchell
  • October, 2013: Katherine Boo
  • April, 2013: Colum McCann
  • October, 2012: Zadie Smith
  • April, 2012: Denis Johnson
  • October, 2011: Philip Gourevitch
  • April, 2011: Natasha Trethewey
  • October, 2010: James Salter
  • April, 2010: Richard Powers
  • September, 2009: Maxine Hong Kingston
  • March, 2009: Louise Glück
  • October, 2008: Junot Díaz
  • March, 2006: Suzan-Lori Parks
  • November, 2007: Paul Muldoon
  • April, 2007: E. L. Doctorow
  • November, 2006: Bharati Mukherjee
  • April, 2006: T. C. Boyle
  • October, 2005: Philip Levine
  • April, 2005: Anna Deavere Smith
  • November, 2004: Rita Dove
  • April, 2004: A. S. Byatt
  • October, 2003: Arnold Rampersad
  • February, 2003: Michael Chabon
  • November, 2002: Edmund White
  • March, 2002: Barry Lopez
  • March, 2001: W. S. Merwin
  • February, 2001: Jamaica Kincaid