The Hagey Lecture Perspective: 1982

The Hagey lectures are the University of Waterloo’s premier invitational public lecture series. Since 1970, outstanding individuals, who have distinguished themselves internationally in some area of scholarly or creative endeavour have given talks intended to challenge, stimulate and enrich not only the faculty, staff and students of the University of Waterloo, but all members of this community.

These annual lectures are co-sponsored by the Faculty Association and the university, and with the success of this year’s lecture by Dr. Paul Collier, we’d like to take the opportunity to celebrate some of our past lectures. 

In 1982, Margaret Atwood became the first female lecturer in the Hagey lecture series, joining pre-eminent scientists, politicians, and Nobel laureates. Already an award-winning author at the time, her accolades included the winning the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry (for the Circle Game in 1966) and the E. J. Pratt medal, as well as serving as the University of Toronto’s Writer in Residence. The year before, in 1981, she was celebrated by Chatelaine as their woman of the year. To have such a prestigious Canadian author so near to Waterloo was too great an opportunity to pass up.

During her visit, she held a seminar on the writer and her craft, lecturing to the English Language and Literature department, as well as students in the Writer’s Workshop on campus. Her second seminar, held with Women’s Studies, Drama, History and Fine arts, focused on the writer as a cultural agent, and the impact writers can have on the larger community. Her lecture, “On Writing the Male Character,” remains one of the best Hagey lectures on writing in the series’ 40 year history.

Since her lecture here, Margaret Atwood ascended from being an eminent writer to being one of the most read and celebrated authors in Canada, receiving another Governor-General’s award and most recently the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee medal. Her contribution to literature is recognized across the globe, and it was both an honour and a privilege to have her at Waterloo.

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