The Puterbaugh Festivals of World Literature and Culture are made possible by a generous grant from the J. G. Puterbaugh Foundation of McAlester, Oklahoma, and sponsored by World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, founded in 1927. A rich tradition in support of literary and international studies at OU, the Puterbaugh Festivals bring the world’s greatest authors—often a winner or a soon-to-be winner of the Nobel Prize—to the OU campus for a course built around the author’s work, an international symposium, public talks and performances, and engagement with students, many of whom receive fellowships to study the Puterbaugh fellow’s work. Since 1968, the Puterbaugh series has furthered the educations of thousands of OU students.
The Puterbaugh Festivals continue to be a living tribute to J. G. Puterbaugh (1876–1965), an Oklahoma philanthropist, entrepreneur, and civic leader who loved poetry and believed it to be a source of cultural enlightenment and a means for understanding other cultures from around the world. He also believed in learning foreign languages as a primary channel of gaining insight into other cultures. Honoring the example of Mr. Puterbaugh and his second wife, Alene Webb Puterbaugh, the Puterbaugh series demonstrates that at OU the spirit of learning about international literature and world culture is a lasting frontier. The Puterbaugh Foundation continues to make grants to benefit Oklahoma education, health care, medical research, youth and children’s programs, and other projects that enhance the quality of life in Oklahoma.