CANCELLED: ‘Wild’ author Cheryl Strayed to speak


CANCELLED: ‘Wild’ author Cheryl Strayed to speak


Cheryl Strayed, whose best-selling memoir of a 1,100-mile hike of recovery and self-discovery became the Reese Witherspoon movie Wild, will talk with SUNY Cortland students, faculty and staff about her journey, her life and the art of writing on Thursday, March 12.

“An Afternoon with Cheryl Strayed” will begin at noon in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge. Open only to campus community members, the discussion will feature an opportunity to engage with an author of three best-selling books and the inspiration behind an Oscar-nominated film. To attend, email an RSVP to Heather Bartlett, a SUNY Cortland English instructor and co-director of its Distinguished Voices in Literature series.

“Cheryl Strayed is a powerhouse of a writer,” Bartlett said. “This is such a special opportunity for our students and community, not just because of Strayed's fame, but because of the strength and compassion she models as a writer and public figure.

“She writes with fierce honesty. She offers up her vulnerabilities without apology. She lifts up other writers, other women. Cheryl Strayed shows us all how to be courageous and gritty without sacrificing who you are. Isn't this just what we hope for our students, for ourselves?”

Strayed’s honest courage is evident in Wild, which recounts how, at the age of 26, childhood abuse, divorce, drugs and the devastating death of her mother had all but destroyed her life. She improbably sought escape from self-loathing and self-destruction by walking the Pacific Crest Trail from California’s Mojave Desert to the Washington/Oregon border.

It was the first time she had ever backpacked.

The adventures she had, the people she met, the ordeals she surmounted and — most importantly — the life-changing realizations she came to during that 1995 odyssey, eventually became the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild. Published in 2012, it was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0.

Actress Reese Witherspoon’s film production company purchased the film rights. The resulting 2014 movie adaption, which starred Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, was nominated for an Academy Award.

The movie will be screened on campus at 7 p.m. Monday, March 9, in Old Main Brown Auditorium.

Strayed, who also wrote the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch, has seen her books translated into nearly 40 languages around the world.

Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of essays from the anonymous “Dear Sugar” advice column she wrote for the online literary magazine Rumpus. The book was adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, who also starred in the role of Sugar/Cheryl. The play debuted at The Public Theater in New York City in a sold-out run in 2016.

Strayed’s essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, The New York Times Book Review and elsewhere. Strayed was the co-host of the New York Times/WBUR podcast “Dear Sugars,” which originated with her popular “Dear Sugar” advice column. She co-authored, along with Steve Almond, “The Sweet Spot” advice column in the New York Times Thursday Styles section. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Sponsored by the English Department’s ongoing series Distinguished Voices in Literature, the event continues the university’s celebration of Women’s History Month during March with a packed schedule of events. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

This year’s Women’s History Month focus is especially timely as the university simultaneously celebrates a century of women’s suffrage and look forward to a presidential election. The Women’s History Month focus also involves the LGBT community, migration and immigration. “Valiant Women of the Vote,” the national theme of Women’s History Month, celebrates both the brave women who fought for suffrage, as well as those who currently continue the struggle for representation and equity.

The Women’s History Month schedule of events also includes:

  • Tuesday, March 10: David Freund from the University of Maryland will present “The History of Discriminatory Lending Practices in the U.S. and Its Role in Perpetuating Intergenerational Inequality” at 5 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • Tuesday, March 10: Outdoor Pursuits will offer “Gender Inclusive Climbing” at 10 p.m. at the Student Life Center Climbing Wall.
  • Wednesday, March 11: The New York Public Interest Research Group will hold a sandwich seminar on “100 Years Since Suffrage: the Current Status of Voter Mobilization in New York State” at 12:30 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • Wednesday, March 11: Joelle Leclaire from SUNY Buffalo State will discuss “Macro-Financial Stability and Household Debt from the Perspectives of American Post-Keynesian Economics, the Cambridge Approach, and the Monetary Circuit School” at 5 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • Thursday, March 12: Scott Ferguson from the University of South Florida will lecture on “The Politics of Care and the Aesthetics of Money” at 5 p.m. in Brockway Hall Jacobus Lounge.
  • Tuesday, March 24: Memorial Library will host a talk about the exhibit “In Pursuit of the Vote: Highlighting Local Suffragettes and Resources” exhibit at 2 p.m. in the library.
  • Tuesday, March 24: Outdoor Pursuits will offer “Gender Inclusive Climbing” at 10 p.m. at the Student Life Center Climbing Wall.

Details on additional upcoming Women’s History Month events will be posted in future Bulletin editions. For more information, contact Jena Nichols Curtis, director of the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies and coordinator of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, at 607-753-2979.

Strayed’s visit is supported by the English Department, the President’s Fund and the Writing Center.

Women’s History Month Events are sponsored by: Advisement and Transition; the Campus Artist and Lectures Series; the Center for Gender and Intercultural Studies; the Disability Resources Office; the Economics Department; the Cultural and Intellectual Climate Committee; the History Department; the Geography Department; Hillel; the International Studies Program; the Institutional Equity and Inclusion Office; the Clark Center for Global Engagement; the Gender Policies and Initiatives Council; the It’s On Us Action Team; Jewish Studies; the New York Public Interest Research Group; Memorial Library ; Outdoor Pursuits; the President’s Office; the Sexual Orientation, Gender, Identity and Expression Committee (SOGIE); Disability Resources; the Student Government Association; the SUNY Cortland Chapter of the American Association of University Women; and the TransAfrica Project.

Image of Cheryl Strayed courtesy of Joni Kabana