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Professor Tumini to portray ‘Out of Africa’ author Karen Blixen

November 12, 2010
Let’s be honest. Mention Karen Blixen, whose autobiography Out of Africa inspired THAT movie – the

Dr. Angela Tumini, a scholar of Danish film, will portray Danish author Karen Blixen.

one with the images of pink flamingos in flight and the Oscar-winning music – and many of us think of Meryl Streep, coffee plantations and Robert Redford.

But Blixen’s real life and writing career encompassed much more than that.

“Karen Blixen isn’t Meryl Streep,” says Angela Tumini, Ph.D., assistant professor of languages. And Dr. Tumini should know. She will take on the role of the Danish author, who wrote under the pseudonym Isak Dinesen, in the season’s first event of Wilkinson College’s “A Night With…” series on Tuesday, Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. in the Fish Interfaith Center’s Wallace All Faiths Chapel. This is the second year for Wilkinson’s “A Night With…” series, which features faculty members offering insights into the lives of historical figures about which they have performed extensive research.

Dr. Tumini, who is writing a book on Danish cinema, says she chose to write a fantasy play for the evening that will have her Blixen in conversation with two other “guests” and Danish writers – Hans Christian Andersen and Soren Kierkegaard.  Dr. Tumini considers the famed author of fairy tales and the existentialist philosopher to be among Blixen’s greatest influences.

Karen Blixen did once have a farm in Africa, but there is more to her life story, says Dr. Tumini.

“Her tales, at times, have a bit of fairy tale magic in them. And in “Babette’s Feast” I am convinced she was influenced by Kierkegaard,” Dr. Tumini says. Tumini also visited Blixen’s home this summer while she was in Denmark to interview Lars van Trier for her book on the Danish film director.

And there certainly will be a touch of magic in Dr. Tumini’s play, since Kierkegaard died in 1855 and Andersen in 1875, some 10 years before Blixen was born. But Tumini drafted Richard Doetkott, professor of communication studies, to portray Andersen, and Lance Lockwood, adjunct faculty member in communication studies, to play Kierkegaard. (Doetkott, by the way, will close this year’s “A Night With …” series in April, with a depiction of Abraham Lincoln.)

Admission to “A Night With …” events is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Wilkinson College News blog.

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