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Ohio University professor recognized for Steinbeck studies
Professor Robert DeMott to appear on PBS special on April 4 

ATHENS, Ohio (April 2, 2007) -- An Ohio University professor's vested interest and expertise on John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" has led to his appearance on a nationally-televised PBS special and recognition from the National Endowment for the Arts. Robert J. DeMott will be seen on "Novel Reflections of the American Dream," a new special from the acclaimed AMERICAN MASTERS series, at 9 p.m. Wednesday, April 4, on WOUB.

"I'm delighted Steinbeck is getting national exposure and 'The Grapes of Wrath' is getting its due," DeMott said. "It is widely read and speaks a great deal to our time."

DeMott, who spoke primarily about Steinbeck, was one of a number of literary scholars, including authors Erica Jong and James Atlas, who discussed novels that had a significant impact or social commentary and challenged the American Dream.

According to the PBS Web site, the documentary uses visual recreations and the scholarly commentary to fully realize the harsh realities of American Dream. Excerpts from the novels are read by actors such as Victor Garber, Julianna Margulies and Liev Schreiber.

The AMERICA MASTERS library has been honored numerous times, winning 17 Emmys, an Oscar, seven Peabody Awards, a duPont-Columbia and two Grammys.

DeMott's Steinbeck studies have also brought acclaim from another notable arena. The National Endowment for the Arts' Big Read selected DeMott's edition of "The Grapes of Wrath" for use in the program.

"The NEA put out a fairly dire statement that serious reading was at risk in the U.S. and funded the Big Read," DeMott said. "They picked seven or eight different novels and asked different groups to apply for funding to put on an intensive reading program."

DeMott's edition, containing a detailed introduction, notes and facts, was selected over a number of other works on the same subject.

"I'm delighted my edition was chosen because it will give a fairly strong, historical, authorial context of the books itself," DeMott said.

The NEA Web site maintains that The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.

The initiative comprises innovative reading programs in selected communities; expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, including television, radio, and print publicity; compelling resources for discussing outstanding literature; and an extensive Web site offering comprehensive information on the authors and their works.

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Media Contact: Media Relations Coordinator Jessica Stark, 740-597-2938 or starkj@ohio.edu

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