"I'd like to attract people who are engaged - and engaging," said Doherty, who plans to broadly interpret the humanities scope of the series, inviting poets and screenwriters, historians and architects, perhaps even scientists. "I'm really a pluralist," he said. "I like to hear people who are glad to be doing what they're doing."
Doherty acknowledges he has a tough act to follow in succeeding founding director Francis Sweeney, SJ, who attracted some of the greatest names in letters to Boston College in his 41 years at the helm of the lecture series.
"It has been a lustrous run," said Doherty, a BC faculty member since 1964 who regularly attends the lectures. "Fr. Sweeney has brought to the Boston College campus virtually all of the major literary figures of the United States and the British Isles of the second half of this century. To continue the series at the high standard that he has set is a daunting challenge."
A scholar of James Joyce who has taught freshman writing seminars and a gamut of courses ranging in subject from English composition to Shakespeare, Doherty twice chaired the English Department in the 1970s and '80s, and directed the department's graduate program from 1983-90.
For now, Doherty says he will be reading widely and listening to speakers in search of candidates for the BC series. He hopes to be able to sponsor as many as five lectures per semester.
Assoc. Prof. Paul Doherty (English). (Photo by Gary Gilbert)
"I'm loath to assert too much at the beginning," he said. "Rather than make grandiose claims, I'd rather let things happen, guided by tradition, for a short while."
His criteria for the lectures are that they appeal to listeners both inside and outside the University community, while remaining in keeping with the traditional values of Boston College.
"We'll try to have the community in, while providing students an opportunity to complement their classwork," said Doherty. "We hope to feature speakers who are different, who are inspiring, and who are consistent with the beliefs and causes the University has traditionally espoused."
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