The Richard Ellmann Lectures in Modern Literature, now among the most prominent in North America, were established in honor of Richard Ellmann (1918–1987), who served Emory University as the first Robert W. Woodruff Professor from 1980 to 1987. For more than forty years, his writing set the highest standards of critical inquiry and humanistic scholarship. The biographer of James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, Ellmann enjoyed eminent domain among the interpreters of W. B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, and other modern authors. His public lectures were unparalleled in their appeal to a worldwide audience of readers. Ellmann always spoke in a language that invited the reader to share his or her personal engagement with serious literature.

James Joyce with a parlor guitar, photograph by Ottocaro Weiss, Trieste, 1915

The Richard Ellmann Lecturers

1988    Seamus Heaney, "The Place of Writing"
1990    Denis Donoghue, "Being Modern Together" 
1992    Anthony Burgess (resigned; deceased)
1994    Helen Vendler, "The Breaking of Style"
1996    Henry Louis Gates Jr., "The Art and Politics of Wole Soyinka" 
1999    A. S. Byatt, "Fathers, Forefathers, Ancestors: The Surprising Renaissance of the British Historical Novel" 
2001    David Lodge, "Consciousness and the Novel"
2004    Salman Rushdie, "The Other Great Tradition"
2006    Mario Vargas Llosa, "Three Masters: Cervantes, Borges, and Ortega y Gasset" 
2008    Umberto Eco, "Confessions of a Young Novelist"
2010    Margaret Atwood, "In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination"
2013    Paul Simon, "The Insomniac's Lullaby: Awake and Aware of the Time"
2017    Colm Toibin, "Writers and Their Father: Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce"
2019    Claudia Rankine, "A History of Olympia's Maid in Contemporary Poetry," "Poets Engaged with Nationalism, Borders, and                     Belonging."

Links to Ellmann books

Margaret Atwood, In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination 

A. S. Byatt, On Histories and Stories

Umberto Eco, Confessions of a Young Novelist

Seamus Heaney, The Place of Writing

Helen Vendler, The Breaking of Style

David Lodge, Consciousness and the Novel

Mario Vargas Llosa, Wellspring