Author speaks of 'Handmaid's' and modern society at Stambaugh

By Amanda Tonoli


Prolific poet and feminist writer Margaret Atwood compared modern society and her novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” – about dictatorship and oppression – during the Skeggs Lecture Series on Friday night.

Atwood is the author of more than 40 works of poetry, children’s literature, fiction and nonfiction.

Some of her notable works include “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “The Edible Woman.”

Atwood’s New York Times bestseller, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” written in 1985, will be premiering as a Hulu original series Wednesday.

“Details in ‘The Handmaids Tale’ don’t come very far from what we see in modern society,” she said. “‘The Handmaid’s Tale’” poses the question, ‘If America were run by a dictatorship, what kind of dictatorship would it be?’”

YSU Communications Department chairman and Skeggs Lecture Series board member Adam Earnheardt asked what Atwood credits the renewed popularity of the story to: “Donald Trump or Hulu?”

Atwood replied: “The two are now joined at the hip, are they not?”

However, the oppressive society in the soon-to-be-new-series is not something Atwood hopes for the future.

“My hope is ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ remains as it is – between the covers of the book, and it doesn’t become a reality any more than it already is,” she said.

Returning Skeggs attendee John Pettit of northern Indiana said he enjoyed Atwood’s mixture of current-events commentary and jesting manner.

Pettit said he often comes to YSU’s Skeggs Lecture Series and they never disappoint.

“This year, I brought a friend who wanted to see Atwood – she read many of her books,” he said. “Although I haven’t, I found the lecture very nice. Ms. Atwood is able to mix such professionalism with humor and make it enjoyable.”

Earnheardt said having Atwood as a guest was just another milestone for the annual series.

“The Skeggs Lecture Series is something that is always pretty impressive,” he said. “We have over 50 years, over 80 lectures, names like Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher ... and now we get to add to that list – Margaret Atwood.”

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