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Heidelberg’s John Quinn Lecture Series to explore topic of banned books




Dr. Barry Devine, assistant professor of English at Heidelberg University. (Contributed Photo)

Tiffin, Ohio — Heidelberg University English professor, Dr. Barry Devine, is set to hold the next event in his ongoing John Quinn Lecture Series on March 15th.

In partnership with the Tiffin-Seneca Public Library, the lecture will highlight Quinn’s battles against censors and book-banning in the early 20th century. The event will be held virtually at 6:30 p.m., and those interested in attending can register online at this link.

The upcoming lecture will focus on book banning and censorship, a controversial topic that remains prevalent today. As in the early 1920s, Quinn’s love of avant-garde art and literature led to constant struggles against censorship efforts. “I wanted to wait until October for this topic so that I could coordinate it with Banned Books Week, but so much is happening in the news that I want to have this conversation now,” Devine shared.

The virtual panel will feature four guest speakers with passionate concerns about censorship efforts. The speakers include Judy Smith, owner of the Pan Yan Bookstore and a Heidelberg alumna; Erin VanLaningham, professor of English at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa; Holly Eberle, Teen Librarian at the Algonquin Area Public Library District in Illinois; and Autumn Koors Foltz, a junior at the University of Maine at Farmington.

Devine is thrilled to host the event, stating that “This promises to be the best event yet in the lecture series.”

John Quinn, a renowned lawyer and collector of modern art at the turn of the 20th century, was born in Tiffin in 1870 and buried in Fostoria after his death in 1924. At the time of his passing, he owned the largest collection of modern art in the world and supported many famous artists and authors whose reputations live on in museums, classical reading lists, and advanced literature courses.

Devine, an expert in Joycean manuscripts, first encountered the name John Quinn as a graduate student. Quinn had purchased the same complete set of manuscripts that Devine was interested in researching during his lifetime, directly from author James Joyce. Devine rediscovered Quinn’s name when he moved to Tiffin to work at Heidelberg and discovered that Tiffin was the birthplace, and Fostoria the home, of the famous collector.

With the encouragement of his wife and colleague, Dr. Helena Theixos, Devine gauged community interest in the life of Quinn. Working with the Seneca County Museum and the Fostoria Historical Society, Devine shared his research about the life and impact of John Quinn in previous lectures, which attracted an enthusiastic local audience.

Devine said, “I am thrilled to be able to restore the memory of Quinn and his legacy to the community where he was born, and where members of his family lived their entire lives.”

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