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News Release — July 7, 2009

Ransom Center Receives Big Read Grant from National Endowment for the Arts

The Harry Ransom Center, a humanities research library and museum at The University of Texas at Austin, has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to host The Big Read in Austin, focusing on Edgar Allan Poe's stories and poems.

Beginning Sept. 8, the Ransom Center opens the exhibition "From Out That Shadow: The Life and Legacy of Edgar Allan Poe," commemorating the bicentennial of the birth of Poe, the great American poet, critic and inventor of the detective story.

The Big Read gives communities the opportunity to read, discuss and celebrate one of 30 selections from American and world literature.

The Ransom Center's sponsored Big Read events include a performance hosted by Isaiah Sheffer of "Selected Shorts," heard on public radio stations across America, a Poe film series featuring "The Fall of the House of Usher" (1928), "The Raven" (1963) and "The Pit and Pendulum" (1961) and a performance of "The Tell-Tale Heart."

"Poe is one of the most widely read American authors of the 19th century, and The Big Read program, in partnership with the Ransom Center's exhibition, will help visitors investigate the enduring influence of his works and his tragic life," said Thomas F. Staley, director of the Ransom Center.

The Ransom Center is one of 269 institutions—including arts, culture and science organizations, libraries and municipalities—to receive a grant to host a Big Read project between September 2009 and June 2010.

"The Big Read highlights not only literature, but also what can be accomplished in partnership," said NEA Acting Chairman Patrice Walker Powell. "I'm grateful to the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Arts Midwest and the many nonprofits, local governments and media outlets around the country that have partnered with the NEA to present hundreds of Big Read projects nationwide. We welcome our new community partners to The Big Read family and look forward to continuing this transformative dialogue between neighbors and across borders."

"The Institute is pleased to support The Big Read, which brings communities together to enjoy literature in their public libraries," said Anne-Imelda M. Radice, director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the NEA's lead federal partner for The Big Read. "Libraries are community anchors that serve as centers of engagement, literacy and lifelong learning. There is nothing better than to read a great book and share your delight and insights with others."

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. Support for The Big Read is provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Transportation for The Big Read is provided by Ford.

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