Allan Gurganus: A Writer’s Sketchbooks.

Self portrait of Allan Gurganus

Allan Gurganus: A Writer’s Sketchbooks

On View: December 5, 2018–January 19, 2019


  • Opening Reception @Power Plant Gallery
    Wednesday, December 5, 2018, 6pm–9pm
  • Reading with Allan Gurganus @Rubenstein Library
    Thursday, January 17, 2019, 5pm–7pm
  • State of Things @WUNC
    Wednesday, January 16, 2019, 12pm. Frank Stasio interviews Allan Gurganus about the acquisition of his literary papers by Duke and the exhibition at the Power Plant Gallery. Tune in to WUNC.
  • Listen to Allan Gurganus read from his work-in-progress, “The Erotic History of a Southern Baptist Church”, delivered January 17, 2019 at the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

    **Please note our hours during Duke’s winter break may be irregular. Please give us a call at 919-660-3622 or email at to make sure we are open before making a special trip. We will also be updating our Facebook page with our holiday hours.

    Allan Gurganus began life as a painter. Among his earliest memories: “picking up the red crayon first, the kindergarten kind made flat-edged.” He would go on to study fine arts at the University of Pennsylvania. Gurganus’s education was interrupted when he was drafted for the Vietnam War. Finding himself stationed on an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea, he kept half-sane by filling dozens of sketchbooks with mythological animals, erotic fantasies, images of home. He discovered the ship’s library and, through that, his wish to write. Gurganus’s playful drawing first revealed the comic, humane spirit that has kept his books in print.

    Celebrating the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s acquisition of Gurganus’s literary archives, The Power Plant Gallery presents sixty drawings and paintings–-never before shown. They offer unusual access to one restless narrative imagination at work in the echo chamber of two art forms.

    Be sure to join us for the opening reception at the Power Plant Gallery on December 5, 2018, and a reading with Allan Gurganus at the Rubenstein Library, on January 17, 2019. Directions and parking information for the Rubenstein library can be found here.

    Collectors generously lending work to this exhibit: David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Ippy and Neil Patterson, Laurie Thorp, Randy Campbell and Steven Burke, Isaac Thorp, Jane Holding.

    We would like to thank the Rubenstein Library for their support and help in making this exhibition happen. You can read the Rubenstein Library’s full announcement on the acquisition below.

    The Rubenstein Library has acquired the papers of the award-winning writer Allan Gurganus. The author of novels and short stories such as Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All and White People, Gurganus has also been widely recognized for his essays and editorials. His papers will be transferred to the Library over the next several years and include drafts, correspondence, and a selection of his original artwork. They will enrich an already robust collection of the papers of other authors in the Southern literary tradition who have achieved national and international prominence, including Reynolds Price, Anne Tyler, Michael Malone, and William Styron.

    Duke Rubenstein Library

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