Professor finds 'Grace & Grit' in author's journey

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November 30, 2021

Writer to discuss role of research in fiction at SUNY Adirondack lecture series

QUEENSBURY, New York (Nov. 30, 2021) — Khristeena Lute was sightseeing in the streets of Bordeaux, France, when a healthy dose of truth hit her: She was the only one who could define herself as a writer. 

“We tend to move the goalposts on ourselves a lot,” said Lute, assistant professor of English at SUNY Adirondack. “We say, ‘I’ll be a real whatever when this happens.’ But it’s an internal thing and that’s what I figured out in Bordeaux: You don’t have to have someone else validate you.” 

When Lute returned home, she started work on “Finding Grace & Grit,” a dual narrative about a novelized Grace King, a real-life Civil War-era author in New Orleans, and Meredith Mandin, a modern-day fictitious woman writing a dissertation about King. 

Lute will read from “Finding Grace & Grit” and speak about the role of research in fiction writing at SUNY Adirondack’s Writers Project at 12:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 6, in the Visual Arts Gallery in Dearlove Hall. 

While earning a master’s degree in English from Austin Peay State University, a professor recommended Lute research female authors from New Orleans, a city to which she was always drawn.  

“I’ve always had a deep pull, a connection, to New Orleans as a city; it’s an amazing place with its own vibe, its own soul,” Lute said.  

She discovered King and her work, and began a dissertation on concepts of liminality — the idea of existing in between two opposing social identities — as a precursor to the modernist movement in American literature. 

“King was already doing something with the notion of liminality,” Lute said, describing how King’s characters were masculine, wearing boots and pants and running a farm, but still feminine; and rich and poor as a wealthy character loses their possessions and has to figure out identity isn’t connected to wealth.  

Lute — who was a middle school literature teacher before earning a second master’s degree and then a doctorate — wrote several academic chapters about King that were published in anthologies of literary criticism. 

At the Writers Project talk, Lute will discuss how to conduct historical research and turn it into fiction. “I was embedded up to my eyebrows in research, bios, memoirs, letters, journals,” she said.  

The Writers Project series offers an opportunity for insight about timely topics at the center of SUNY Adirondack’s commitment to diversity and enrichment. Admission is free and open to the public. Masks must be worn at all times by all visitors.  


About SUNY Adirondack

SUNY Adirondack is a community college with a growing campus that is part of the nation’s largest university, the State University of New York. With locations in Queensbury, Glens Falls and Wilton, SUNY Adirondack offers courses in person and online; on-campus housing at the Queensbury campus; and serves students via credit and continuing education programs.