3rd Biennial JUS Conference

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Screen Shot 2014-08-13 at 9.49.57 AMAlvernia University announced in a press release that David Updike has officially accepted a position as the next John Updike Scholar in Residence at Alvernia, starting in August 2014.

As Alvernia states, “[David] Updike’s first duty as Scholar in Residence comes as the John Updike Society Conference returns to its original location at Alvernia University, October 2-4 [it's 1-4, actually], 2014. Updike will talk about his father’s life ‘in pictures and prose’ during the conference’s only session open to the public:  Oct. 2, 2 p.m., in Francis Hall Theater.”

David Updike is the author of the short story collections Old Girlfriends and Out on the Marsh, as well as an illustrated quartet for young readers: A Winter Journey, An Autumn Tale, A Spring Story, and The Sounds of Summer. His short stories, as the release points out, have been published in The New Yorker, making him the third in his family to see his work appear in the magazine—the others, of course, being his father, John Updike, and paternal grandmother, Linda Hoyer Updike, who placed 10 stories in the prestigious magazine.

Here is the story on Updike’s appointment, as reported by WN.com.

Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 7.44.43 PMThe John Updike Society has appreciated the involvement of Updike family members, with the first conference featuring a panel consisting of Mary, Updike’s first wife, and three of the four Updike siblings—Liz, Michael, and Miranda. And the second conference in Boston offered a special exhibit mounted by Michael, with Liz helping him to discuss the objects their father mentioned in his fiction and prose. For the upcoming Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Reading, David Updike will offer a plenary session.

David, a writer whose most recent collection of short stories is titled Old Girlfriends, will speak on “Family Archaeology: pictures, objects, words.” He is currently the Updike Scholar in Residence at Alvernia University.

Members (and new members) can still register for the conference (3rd Conference registration form) and still submit an abstract for a paper presentation: Call for Papers extended.

The conference, hosted by Alvernia University, features additional plenary sessions by Don Greiner on the “Chatterbox and the Young JU,” Ward Briggs and Biljana Dojcinovic on the real romance that inspired Updike’s “The Bulgarian Poetess,” and a panel of Updike classmates interviewed by Jack De Bellis (John Updike’s Early Years).

The two keynote speakers should be equally memorable. Legendary graphic artist Chip Kidd, who designed many an Updike cover and worked closely with the author, will deliver the opening keynote speech on Thursday, October 2. And Adam Begley, whose biography of Updike has been widely acclaimed, will deliver the closing keynote speech at the Saturday evening banquet at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, a historic building at which many famous people have stayed, and where composer John Philip Sousa famously died while on tour.

Speaking of tours, there are two planned: One is a walking tour of Updike’s Shillington and a picnic at The John Updike Childhood Home, where you can see how the restoration is coming along; the other is a local flavor bus tour that will drive past historic covered bridges and hex barns, tour a small local pretzel factory, and stop at such Updike sites as Plow Cemetery and the Pagoda. If you went on the bus tour for the first conference, you’ll still want to come along, because there are new things mixed in with the old.

New members and first-time attendees are most welcome! And members who attended one of the first conferences know that these start to feel like reunions, where you can gather with like-minded friends. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for that, including a welcoming reception hosted by Alvernia University, and a tour of the Reading Public Museum and reception hosted by Albright College.

In 2010, John Updike Society members convened in Reading, Pa., for the 1st Biennial John Updike Society Conference, and after visiting Suffolk University and Boston two years later, we return to Alvernia University October 1-4, 2014 for the 3rd Biennial John Updike Society Conference3rd Conference registration form

picture-12The John Updike Society is comprised of 260 members who live in 15 different countries, and our conferences have been an enjoyable time to meet new people and old friends, and to talk about all things Updike with like-minded individuals. Call for Papers extended

Adam Begley’s biography of Updike has been everywhere in the news, and Adam (right) will be our closing keynote speaker for the conference. Our other keynote speaker is Chip Kidd, who has been called the “rock star” of graphic designers because he has crafted so many iconic images, among them the cover for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and, of course, many of John Updike’s dust jackets. He had a great deal of interaction with Updike, and we look forward to his and Begley’s remarks.

Alvernia University will welcome us back this year, with university president and society member Tom Flynn hosting a reception and members getting the chance to spend some time in The John Updike Society Archives at Alvernia.

This conference we celebrate the society’s acquisition of The John Updike Childhood Home, with an afternoon tour of the house, walking tour of Shillington, and picnic lunch on the Kiddgrounds of the house. We’ll also get to see the Reading Public Museum, where Updike’s interest in art and antiquities was partly shaped, and where The Drinking Girl that inspired him is again on display. The museum will even mount a special exhibit for us of items Updike mentioned which have since been in storage, and a reception there will be sponsored by Albright College, which has links to Updike—the most recent being their donation of wood from the old bleachers that was used to create new storm windows for The John Updike Childhood Home.

Every conference registrant will get a t-shirt commemorating their visit to the house, the first society event to be held there. As with the first conference, there will be a session featuring Updike classmates and another by the Updike family. We’ll also take a bus tour of the City Park, Pagoda, other Rabbit, Run sites, and sites that reflect the local flavor of an area that meant so much to John Updike.

The conference hotel is the historic Abe Lincoln in downtown reading, which is a safe walking distance from numerous restaurants and bars, among them The Peanut Bar, where a young John Updike hung out when he worked for the Reading Eagle newspaper.   Read the rest of this entry »

Academics are a busy lot, and with the semester just now ending for some, people are just now turning to thoughts of possible paper topics. As a result, The John Updike Society has extended its Call for Papers deadline for the Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Reading, Pa., hosted by Alvernia University October 1-4, 2014. The new deadline is JULY 15, 2014.

Call for Papers extended



KiddAlvernia University of Reading, Pa., will host the Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference October 1-4, 2014, and the keynote speakers are set.

On Thursday evening, October 2, Chip Kidd will deliver the first keynote talk. Kidd has been called the “rock star” of graphic designers because he has crafted so many iconic images, among them the cover for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and, of course, many of John Updike’s dust jackets. He interacted with Updike over the artwork and can offer a great many insights. For those who want to read more, we recently ran a story on Penn State’s University Libraries acquisition of the Chip Kidd archives.

picture-12Adam Begley, who wrote the first full-length biography on Updike (published in April, 2014) will deliver the second keynote talk on Saturday, October 4. To quote the HarperCollins website, “Updike is Adam Begley’s masterful, much-anticipated biography of one of the most celebrated figures in American literature: Pulitzer Prize-winning author John Updike—a candid, intimate, and richly detailed look at his life and work.”

From Kirkus Reviews: “A sympathetic, full-meal-deal biography—life, literary works, reputation . . . . Former New York Observer books editor Begley (Certitude: A Profusely Illustrated Guide to Blockheads and Bullheads, Past and Present, 2009, etc.) erects his formidable artifice on a sturdy foundation of research and convention. He interviewed the relevant relatives and friends, trod the ground in Pennsylvania (Updike’s state of birth and youth), Massachusetts and elsewhere, and read all the works of Updike’s most prolific career.”

Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 6.37.08 AMProgram director Maria Mogford has issued a Call for Papers. One-page proposals/abstracts for 15-20 minute papers should be titled “Updike Conference Proposal” and emailed by May 15, 2014 to program director Maria Mogford at mmogford@alb.edu. Decisions on panels and panelists will be announced no later than June 15, 2014, with rolling acceptances—meaning the sooner you get your proposal in, the sooner you’ll hear back from Maria. Moderators are also needed. See the Call for Papers for details.

While Mogford and site director Sue Guay, another longtime member and a professor of English at Alvernia, are still finalizing plans, some of the events for this year’s conference include:

  • A tour and reception at the Reading Museum and Arboretum (on display is The Drinking Girl as cited in The Centaur).
  • “A Soft Spring Night in Shillington” tour and reception at The John Updike Childhood Home (pictured), the first time a large-scale event will be held at the house, which is owned by the society and is currently being renovated.

In early October of 2014 The John Updike Society will convene for its Third Biennial Conference in Reading, Pennsylvania. Directors for the conference are now set. Member Sue Guay, who brokered Alvernia University’s sponsorship of the first conference and worked tirelessly to ensure that everything ran smoothly, will serve as Site Director for the 2014 conference. And member Maria Mogford, curator of The John Updike Childhood Home and an English and Education instructor at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, will serve as Program Director. Mogford has taught writing and literature courses at Albright, Penn State and Bucks New University in High Wycombe, England.

The Society is grateful for their willingness to serve. Planning will begin soon, as each conference takes more than a year to put together. Mogford will announce a call for papers at some point in the future, so be thinking ahead to 2014.

Pictured is Dr. Frank A. Franco Library Learning Center, where Alvernia University president Tom Flynn welcomed members with a reception at the memorable first conference.