RYE, N.Y. -- A generous gift from the late Shirley Durst, a Westchester resident, established an endowed fund to support the Durst Chair in Literature, awarded to notable intellectuals whose work bridges literature and the visual or performing arts, as well as the Durst Distinguished Lecture Series.
For more than 25 years before her death at age 92 in 2011, Shirley Durst supported the arts and humanities at Purchase College, and her family continues the history of giving. The mission of the Durst programs is to infuse the experience and intellect of leading writers into the Purchase and Westchester communities, while providing diverse opportunities for these writers to interact with students and influence campus life.
This contribution has greatly benefited Purchase College’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences, School of Humanities, and Literature program and made the school a magnet for students who want to write and study literature. It has also brought a wealth of literary talent to the Westchester community at large, which is invited to attend many of the programs.
Currently, the college is hosting Manohla Dargis, co-chief film critic for The New York Times, as the Durst Distinguished Chair in Literature. Dargis, who graduated from Purchase College with a degree in literature in 1985, went on to become a film critic at the Village Voice and the Los Angeles Times. She has won numerous awards for her work and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism.
Upcoming spring 2016 Durst events on the Purchase campus include:
- Caryl Phillips (March 10)
- Lawrence Joseph (March 16)
- Manohla Dargis with Ken Jacobs (March 31)
- Aminatta Forna (April 13)
- Manhola Dargis Presenting the Mary Edwards Lecture (April 18).
“The Durst support has helped us to put literature on the map at Purchase College,” says Louise Yelin, Purchase College Professor of Literature. “The exposure to the live reader for students is invaluable. In addition, the writers meet with a small group of students informally, which is so thrilling and inspiring."