Houghton exhibit sheds light on Updike’s last project

Houghton Library curator of modern books and manuscripts Leslie Morris put together a three-case exhibit for the visit by Society members during the 2nd Biennial conference, but those who missed it can still have a look. The exhibit comes down on June 30.

Here’s a Harvard Gazette article describing the exhibit and items found on Updike’s desk.

2nd conference a success; Society will return to Alvernia in 2014

Suffolk University was a perfect host and Boston a perfect location for the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference. Many attendees commented on the quality of papers, the exhibit that Michael Updike set up in the large meeting room, the enjoyable pacing of the conference, and the many receptions and tours. Quentin Miller and Bernard F. Rodgers, Jr. did a fantastic job, and by all accounts it was a successful conference. Members are already looking forward to 2014, when the society will return to Alvernia University in Reading, Pa., with the goal of providing tours and activities that are “must sees” for people who missed the first conference, but also some nice surprises for those who were at Alvernia in 2009. A date has not been set yet.

Here is a 2nd Conference report on the activities in Boston. Pictured above are plenary speakers Jeffrey Ludwig, Brian Keener, and Miller. For more photos, see the photo gallery on The John Updike Society Facebook page.

Countdown to Boston: T minus 2

In just two days, the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference kicks off in Boston with a reception at Suffolk University and a keynote talk by writer Joyce Carol Oates.

Site director Quentin Miller sent this letter to conference registrants, informing them of important details: Dear Colleagues

Here are Updike conference directions and a Restaurant Guide.

See you in Boston!

Globe columnist may address Updike group in Boston

If he’s able, senior Boston Globe sportswriter and columnist Bob Ryan, who knew Updike, will address Society members after their tour of Fenway. The Red Sox have made special arrangements for the Society tour to end in the Royal Rooters club, so that we can hear Ryan’s remarks. He’s told us he would like to address the group, but much depends on how deep the Celtics go in the playoffs and when and where games are scheduled.

Updike attended Red Sox games with his college roommate and continued to take in games at Fenway, which turns 100 this year, throughout his life. He made sportswriting history with “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu” in describing Ted Williams’ last at-bat in an essay that many have called the best piece of sportswriting ever.

Ryan has covered all of Boston’s sports teams since 1968 and is a regular panelist on ESPN’s Sunday morning roundtable, The Sports Reporter.

It’s not too late to register for the conference, though registration will have to close soon because of the need to confirm a final count for buses and food.

The Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference will be co-sponsored and hosted by Suffolk University from June 12-16. Joyce Carol Oates is the keynote speaker, and in addition to the Fenway excursion, conference attendees will visit Salem, Updike sites in Ipswich, and Updike sites in Cambridge—including a look inside Updike’s freshman dorm room and a tour of Lowell House, where Updike lived his sophomore and junior years. And if you attended the first conference and heard from Updike’s children how he used to take them to Woodman’s of Essex for clams, you’ll know why our concluding dinner is a clambake at Woodman’s (with ribs on the menu as well).

If you still plan on registering, contact James Plath (jplath@iwu.edu) as soon as possible.

Remember to register for the June 12-16 Boston conference

It’s past when we requested registrations to be turned in, but there’s still time to register for the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference, June 12-16. The conference is co-sponsored and hosted by Suffolk University, on Beacon Hill near the start of the Freedom Trail, and it promises to be something special. For this conference we even have two housing options to accommodate different budgets and needs: the dorms at Suffolk, and Holiday Inn of Boston at Beacon Hill. Be advised that if you’re driving, parking at the Holiday Inn is an additional $40 or so for each night.

UPDIKE IN BOSTON (Registration and Holiday Inn information)

Suffolk dorm housing reservations

If you’re planning on attending, now’s the time to let us know, so we can begin to finalize things like bus and Woodman’s banquet reservations and our tour of Fenway Park. We had an incredibly congenial group at the First Biennial John Updike Society Conference, and people have said they’re looking forward to seeing colleagues and friends once more.

Certainly, everyone is eager to hear Joyce Carol Oates’ keynote remarks. Board member Jack De Bellis passed along this recent article about Ms. Oates.

If you have any questions, please email jplath@iwu.edu.

Time to register for the Boston conference

Details are in place for the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference, co-sponsored and hosted by Suffolk University, Boston.

We hope that we’ve balanced special sessions and tours with enough free time to enjoy this historic city.

Here are registration and hotel details: UPDIKE IN BOSTON and information on Suffolk dorm housing reservations.

They will also be emailed to members. The closing dinner  for this conference will be at Woodman’s of Essex, which, attendees at the First Biennial John Updike Society Conference learned, was a place where Updike often took his family. They’re also world-famous for their clambakes.




Details and housing options announced for the Boston conference

Program director Bernard F. Rodgers, Jr. and site director Quentin Miller are pleased to announce details of the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Boston, co-sponsored by Suffolk University.

Suffolk, the third largest university in Boston, is located on Beacon Hill, adjacent to the Massachusetts State House and not far from the famed Boston Commons and the start of the Freedom Trail walking tour of the city’s historical landmarks (map). It’s close to the subway and a quick and easy ride to and from the airport. We’ll provide complete directions as the time draws nearer.

This conference, members have the choice of staying at the Holiday Inn Boston at Beacon Hill a short walk from Suffolk, or in a Suffolk University dormitory room with common (shared) bathroom. The Holiday Inn rate is $179 (plus taxes and surcharges) per night, and members should mention The John Updike Society block (40 rooms reserved) and the $179 rate when booking, or it’s considerably more expensive. You’ll need to book the hotel by phone, and the Holiday Inn phone number is (617) 742-7630. The dorm rate at Suffolk University is $76 for a single, and $54 for a double (per person). Suffolk dorm housing reservations

Some of the highlights? Joyce Carol Oates, of course. And the Updike family is mounting a special exhibit of objects and mementos mentioned in the fiction. You’ll get to see them up-close, after which Michael Updike and others will talk about the items in a special session. In addition, Mary and Bob Weatherall have graciously agreed to allow members to see several rooms of their house at 66 Labor-in-Vain Road—one of the houses in Ipswich where John Updike once lived. And baseball fans will find our tour of Fenway Park memorable, especially since Fenway is celebrating its centennial this year and Updike witnessed Ted Williams’ historic last at-bat there, resulting in one of the all-time great sports stories: “Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu.”

The conference will begin with a reception hosted by Suffolk University at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, followed by the keynote address by Oates. Wednesday, June 13 features academic sessions, the family session, an optional walking tour of literary Boston, the Fenway Park tour, and a 6 p.m. reception hosted by Suffolk University. On Thursday, June 14, following morning academic panels everyone will head for Cambridge for a look at Harvard sites—including the fabled Lampoon and the dorm where Updike stayed. Then it’s on to the Houghton Library, the chief repository for John Updike’s papers. We’ll be welcomed by curator Leslie Morris, who’s mounting a small, special exhibit for Society members and, with The John Updike Review, co-hosting a reception for us. Friday, June 15, is bus day. Following academic panels and a session featuring North Shore area friends of Updike, members will board buses for a drive to Salem to see some of the Hawthorne sites. Members who haven’t seen the buildings there will have the time to tour the Hawthorne House, The House of the Seven Gables, the Custom House, etc., before we board the buses for a tour of Updike sites in Ipswich and conclude with an old-fashioned clambake on the Top Deck at Woodman’s of Essex—which the Updike children said was a favorite eatery of their dad’s. The final panels are scheduled for the morning of Saturday, June 16, with the conference coming to an end following the 11 a.m. business meeting of the Society.

We hope you’ll join us and help us maintain the momentum the Society enjoyed for the first three years! We’ll post more details, registration information, and a conference schedule with papers in the coming weeks. In the meantime, if you have any questions, email Society president James Plath (jplath@iwu.edu).

Deadline for Boston conference papers is extended

In response to members who said they were swamped this time of the year, program director Bernard F. Rodgers, Jr. has extended the deadline for abstracts/proposals for the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference. The conference, which will be held June 12-16 at Suffolk University in Boston, opens with a keynote address by Joyce Carol Oates on the evening of the 12th and features tours to Updike sites in Ipswich and Boston (including the Lampoon, pictured) and Hawthorne sites in Salem.

Here is the original Call for Papers, which are now due on January 16.



Joyce Carol Oates will be the keynote speaker in Boston


Joyce Carol Oates, who was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2010, will deliver the keynote address at the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Boston on Tuesday, June 12, at 8 p.m. at host institution Suffolk University.

Like Updike, Oates has published in multiple genres (novel, short fiction, memoir, children’s books, plays, essays, criticism) and is considered one of the most important writers of her generation. She’s earned much praise and many awards for her fiction, including the PEN/Malamud Award and the O. Henry Prize for her achievements in short fiction, a National Book Award for her novel Them, and the 2004 Fairfax Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Literary Arts.

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Conference dates, call for papers announced

It’s official: the dates for the Second Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Suffolk University in Boston are June 13-16, 2012. Plan on getting to Boston the night of the 12th if you don’t want to miss anything. As with the first conference, there will be a combination of academic sessions and panels/talks from people who knew John Updike well. While field trips are still being arranged, the Houghton Library (pictured) will mount a special exhibit and host a reception for attendees, and we’ll spend an afternoon at Harvard seeing some of the Updike sites there. We’ll also take a trip to the North Shore to see Updike sites, with another trip to Salem that will tie in with panels on Updike and Hawthorne. We may also take a side trip to Fenway Park.

So mark your calendars and start thinking of what new research and insights you might share with members. Here’s the Call for Papers