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History of the Center


Begun in 1997, through the generosity and creativity of Jeanne Hoffman Smith, MSSW, the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature brings a distinguished poet to the campus each year. Six of the poets have been Poet Laureates of the United States and many of them have been Pulitzer Prize and/or National Book Award winners. Poets Robert Pinsky, Jane Hirshfield, Michael Ondaatje, Mark Doty, Lucille Clifton, Naomi Shihab Nye, Li-Young Lee, Billy Collins, Ted Kooser, Joy Harjo, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Charles Simic, Natasha Trethewey, Carolyn Forche, Claudia Emerson, Terrance Hayes, Tracy K. Smith, Richard Blanco, Marie Howe, Simon Armitage, and Chris Abani have been featured so far. Poet Alberto Rios will be featured at OCU on April 3, 2019.

In addition, the Center supports the OCU Film Institute, develops for the university and community an archive collection of quality DVDs, facilitates field trips to OCU for teachers and students from upper elementary through high school, hosts a regular Oklahoma Humanities Let’s Talk About It book discussion series for the university and Oklahoma City community, and collaborates with other campus and metropolitan organizations to support and encourage different groups to work together on creative projects. The director is a member of the English Department and teaches courses in this department as well as other university courses related to the mission of the Center. The Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment Fund and an advisory committee support the development of the Center and its programs.


The OCU Film Institute offers the university and the greater Oklahoma City community the opportunity to view classic and contemporary international films. Since 1983, the Institute has been screening films every year on to an audience of 50 to 400 people. Each year the series focuses on a theme, and reading recommendations on the theme and individual films are available at the showings. A discussion session follows each screening. The films are also available for university courses. Each spring audience participants have the opportunity to recommend films for the next season, and their preferences are honored to the degree possible. The Institute is committed to showing each season films from many different countries as well as offering each year a film from a place that has not been represented before. Once a film has been screened in the series, it is placed in OKCU’s Dulaney-Browne Library where it can be checked out for viewing by an individual.

In 1996, the Oklahoma Humanities Council awarded the Institute one of four awards for excellence in humanities programming over the previous twenty-five years in the state of Oklahoma. The film series is supported by OKCU, the OKCU Film Institute Endowment, the Designated Endowment in the Community Foundation of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, and the Thatcher Hoffman Smith Endowment for the Center for Interpersonal Studies through Film and Literature. The creator and director of the Film Institute, Dr. Harbour Winn, retired in 2016, but remains active in the community programming he helped to develop.