It's Memphis meets Jerusalem as none other than the
King of Rock 'n' Roll comes into focus at the 2006 George
B. Udvarhelyi Lecture, the now 12-year-old series that
every two years brings a prominent speaker in the arts and
humanities to the Johns Hopkins medical campus.
This year's speaker will be Gary Vikan, director of
the Walters Art Museum, who will present a talk on
"Graceland as Locus Sanctus." The event, which is free and
open to the public, will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday,
Nov. 8, in the Mountcastle Auditorium of the Preclinical
Teaching Building. Vikan's talk will be followed by a
Director of the Walters Art Museum since 1994, Vikan
has published and lectured extensively on topics as varied
as early Christian pilgrimages, medicine and magic, icons
and Elvis Presley. His Udvarhelyi Lecture will draw
parallels between the legions of Elvis fans who annually
flock to the singer's home in Tennessee and Christian
pilgrimages to holy lands.
Vikan is also an adjunct professor in the university's
Department of Art History and a faculty member in the
School of Professional Studies in Business and Education.
Since 2004, Vikan has been a board member of the Maryland
Humanities Council and the Baltimore Area Convention and
Visitors' Association. From 1999 to 2002, he served as a
President Clinton appointee on the Cultural Property
Advisory Committee. He was honored by the French Minister
of Culture and Communication in 2000 with Knighthood in the
Order of Arts and Letters.
The lecture series is hosted by the JHMI Office of
Cultural Affairs, which presents an ongoing series of free
cultural events targeted to the Johns Hopkins Medicine
community. The office's mission is to cultivate and raise
awareness of the rich cultural diversity on the East
Baltimore campus with activities focused on humanistic
topics. In addition to the Udvarhelyi Lecture series, the
office sponsors Tuesday noon concerts in Hurd Hall, the
Chamber Music Society, the Choral Society, a literary
magazine for the School of Medicine and a film series,
among other events.
George B. Udvarhelyi (OOD-var-hi), an internationally
known neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins, founded the Office of
Cultural Affairs in 1977 in order to bring a comprehensive
program in the humanities and performing arts to the
Gert Brieger, Distinguished Service Professor in the
Department of the History of Medicine and former director
of the Office of Cultural Affairs, says that Udvarhelyi set
out to change Baltimore's reputation as "a cultural
desert," a perception that impacted recruiting efforts for
both students and faculty.
"George always had a great interest in music, and
broad cultural interests, and he wanted to share those
passions and show what Baltimore had to offer," Brieger
Upon Udvarhelyi's retirement in 1994, colleagues and
friends endowed the George B. Udvarhelyi Lectureship in
recognition of his pioneer contributions to the arts and
humanities at Johns Hopkins.
Previous speakers in this series have included master
violinist Isaac Stern (a personal friend of Udvarhelyi's),
authors Julian Barnes and Alice McDermott, and Pulitzer
Prize-winning historian Garry Wills.
Shannon Dunn, director of the Office of Cultural
Affairs, says that the office continues to follow
Udvarhelyi's lead and provide a diverse program of cultural
activities for students, faculty and staff.
"With the lecture series, we are trying to present
something both entertaining and intellectually stimulating
on a nonscientific, cultural topic," Dunn said. "We're
definitely not looking for talks on brain surgery, medical
advances or controversial topics. Our people already get
their share of those."
For more information on the lecture or the Office of
Cultural Affairs, go to
www.jhoca.org or call 410-955-3363.