March 22, 2013

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updated March 25

By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Journalist Julia Scheeres will give the talk, "Narrating Jonestown and the Peoples Temple," Wednesday, April 3, at 7 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center at Bucknell University.

The talk, which is free and open to the public, is part of the Griot Institute for Africana Studies Series, "Jonestown Reconsidered, 35 years later."

Scheeres is the author of A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of the Peoples Temple, which follows the experiences of five Peoples Temple members who went to Jonestown: a middle-class English teacher from Colorado, an elderly African-American woman raised in Alabama, a troubled young black man from Oakland, and a working-class father and his teenage son, all of whom joined Jones' church for different reasons.

The author drew from thousands of recently declassified FBI documents and audiotapes, as well as rare videos and interviews, to piece together an unprecedented history of the doomed camp, focusing on the people who lived there. Her own experiences at an oppressive reform school in the Dominican Republic were detailed in her debut memoir Jesus Land, a New York Times and London Times bestseller.

Scheeres has written for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Guardian and many other publications.

The next event in the series will be "Jonestown Reconsidered: A response from students in the Jonestown class," Wednesday, April 10, at 7 p.m. in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center. Seventeen students in Carmen Gillespie's ENGL 290 class will communicate the ways in which characters and events of the Jonestown story evoke authentic responses and reflections. The students' shared presentations, varying in form and content and factually based or imaginatively expressed, are personal and have been individually created. The student project within Gillespie's class was directed by Bob Gainer, professor emeritus of theatre.

The final event in the series will be held April 17. Stephan Jones, son of Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones, will give the talk, "Jonestown: Yesterday and Today," at 7 p.m. in the Formal Living in Hunt Hall.

Contact: Division of Communications


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