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Kazin is known for his book "On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature." He has also held numerous academic and editorial posts. Kazin will read from his most recent work, "The Almighty Has His Own Purposes: Lincoln, God and the Civil War." He is currently professor of literature at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. PEN at Penn speakers are chosen from the ranks of the PEN American Center, a worldwide association of poets, playwrights, editors, essayists, novelists, and translators. The program to bring PEN speakers to campus began in the fall of 1987. It is funded by University graduate and Trustee Saul Steinberg, who came up with the idea for the program. PEN members who have come to speak -- among them George Plimpton, Susan Sontag and Steven Sondheim -- are called Steinberg Fellows in his honor. PEN speakers are selected by a committee chaired by English Professor Robert Lucid. He said this week that the committee tries to choose speakers from a variety of backgrounds. "We try to appeal to different constituencies," Lucid said. He also said he is excited about Kazin speaking because of the influence Kazin had during the middle half of this century. "I think so highly of Kazin that it is difficult to exaggerate," Lucid said. The other speakers scheduled for this fall are author John Wideman, who is also a University alumnus and former professor of English, and historian and political critic Arthur Schlesinger Jr. Kazin will speak from 4 to 5 p.m. in Room B-6 of Stiteler Hall on Wednesday. The speech is free.

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