August 2010

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Based on the success of such programs at other single-author conferences, The John Updike Society has decided to offer a parallel one-day seminar for local high school teachers to coincide with the First Biennial John Updike Conference at Alvernia University, Reading, Pa., Oct. 1-3. Registration, which will be open until September 12, is $25 for the day, including a box lunch. The Society reserves the right to close registration if the numbers grow too large. The special seminar at Alvernia includes three pedagogy sessions, two sessions open to the public, and one session open to members (and teachers) only.


9-9:50am—Plenary Session:Updike in Pennsylvania.” Jack De Bellis (program director) and Dave Silcox (site director)

10-10:50am—Family panel: Mary Weatherall (Updike’s first wife) and Updike children Elizabeth Cobblah, Miranda Updike, and Michael Updike; James Plath, moderator

11:00-12:15—Pedagogy Session I: ’Ex-Basketball Player’: Approaches to Teaching Updike’s Most Anthologized Poem and suggested segments from the Rabbit novels.” James Plath (Illinois Wesleyan University)

12:30-1:45  Box Lunch, and a chance to mingle and talk with other teachers

2:00-3:00—Plenary Session II: “Headier Stuff: Resources for Teaching ‘A&P,’ ‘Pigeon Feathers,’ and ‘Separating.’”James Schiff (University of Cincinnati)

3:15-4:15—Plenary Session III: “Teaching Updike’s Lesser-Known Short Fiction.” Marshall Boswell (Rhodes College)

4:30-5:30—Keynote speakers Ann Beattie and Lincoln Perry. Ann Beattie is Edgar Allan Poe Professor of Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia and a distinguished writer of fiction, and Lincoln Perry is a renowned artist whose paintings and sculptures have been influenced by John Updike’s fiction. His paintings will be on display.

To Register: Send check for $25 along with your name, school, phone, and email to seminar director Richard Androne, Dept. of English, Albright College, P.O. Box 15234, Reading, PA 19612-5234.

Here’s the Conference program and registration materials for the upcoming First Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University, October 1-3. It promises to be a memorable event, though registration closes on September 12 and to get the conference rate at Homewood Suites you’ll need to book your room by September 2.

Conference updates:  Lincoln Perry, who will deliver the keynote address with his wife, writer Ann Beattie, will be bringing the actual artwork from his series of paintings inspired by Updike’s Rabbit novels. The artwork will be on display in the room where Beattie and Perry will deliver their remarks. Also, Steve Soboroff, the collector who purchased the Updike typewriter that was recently auctioned by Christie’s, has generously agreed to display the typewriter at the conference. Not only that, but attendees will have the chance to type on it!

Ninety-four members have registered to attend the conference, with 43 opting to attend the closing dinner at the Peanut Bar, which will serve as a nice closure for our first conference.

Site director Dave Silcox, program director Jack De Bellis, teacher’s seminar directors Richard Androne and Joseph Yarworth, and the people at Alvernia University have been working hard to make the conference a memorable one. We’ll look forward to seeing you all in Updike territory in just a little over a month. Please remember to use the Updike Society Facebook page if you want to solicit rides or riders from the Philadelphia International Airport. Note too that there’s a regional van service from Philly International to Reading.

Pictured are the Reading Public Library, where Saturday’s social event will be held, and the Peanut Bar, site of the final dinner.

Society member Joan Youngerman recently contributed a remembrance to the Reading Eagle in which she explains that Updike “promised not to use our names while alive, but we pretty much knew who was who in his stories.” Here’s the full story, titled “John Updike: He never forgot where he came from,” which was published on August 8.  Joan will be one of the classmates featured on a panel at the First Biennial John Updike Conference at Alvernia University this October.

This poem, “Another Dan,” comes from Daniel Hunter of Medina, Ohio:

Another Dan

I go to the library again and check out my old friend,

the late John Updike. I actually own most of his books, but

seeing him here on these public shelves gives me some sense

he’s still doing well—not breathing, obviously, but circulating.

The once we met, inscribing my book, he wrote For Dan, Best Wishes

while saying, and I quote, “Another Dan—more Dans than you can

shake a stick at.” His wild eyebrows were, if you can imagine,

even wilder in person. I think of this whenever my wife insists

I sit still for a trimming. That’s me, alright, another Dan,

but one upon whom has been bestowed best wishes.