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Paul Contino and Maire Mullins Explore Diversity and the Divine in Literature at Maltese Festa
Paul Contino, professor of great books, and editor of Christianity and Literature, and Maire Mullins, chair of the Humanities and Teacher Education division, presented at a Gozitan—American Day Festa in Malta on Monday, June 21. The event, "Of Great Books, American Literature, and Musica American," was hosted by the Ministry for Gozo and the US Embassy in Victoria, on the island of Gozo, Malta.
The Festa, which was open to all, opened with a presentation by Contino, who focused on five key moments in five key literary works from around the world: Zhuangzi from China, St. Augustine's Confessions from Africa, Dante's Commedia from Italy, the Brothers Karamazov from Russia, and Flannery O'Connor's "Parker's Back" from the USA. Contino found that in varied ways each of the works had imagery that showed that we discover our interior freedom most fully when we realize that we are not autonomous selves but dependent persons in dialogical relationship with others and with the Divine.
Mullins then explored the ways that Walt Whitman incorporated democratic poetics in his work, "Song of Myself." Flowing from his stated purpose of putting down in words the poetry of the United States, which he believed to be the ultimate poem, Mullins illuminated how Whitman's work mirrored the diversity he saw in the US at the time of his writing.
"Our time in Malta and Gozo was enriching and educational," says Mullins. "The Maltese and the Gozitans are hospitable and welcoming, and interested in learning more about America and American culture. It was an honor to spend time with Ambassador Kmiec and to represent the United States at the Festa."
Ambassador Doug Kmiec was appointed by President Obama to serve as the United States Ambassodor to Malta in June 2009. Prior to accepting the role, Kmiec was the Caruso Family Chair and professor of constitutional law at Pepperdine's School of Law.
Contino and Mullins are both widely published and well respected scholars. Contino is an expert on great books, ethical reflections, and the novel, while Mullins is an expert on Walt Whitman and poetics.