3rd Biennial JUS Conference

You are currently browsing the archive for the 3rd Biennial JUS Conference category.

For a while, it took a subscription to view the Reading Eagle story about Adam Begley‘s keynote John Updike Society conference talk, but now you can view a version of it for free at Berks & Beyond.

In the article by Bruce Posten, Begley said “he happened to write Updike’s obituary in 2009 for the New York Observer, where he was books editor. Apparently because of that, he was subsequently tapped by HarperCollins to write the biography.”

“‘My primary regret is it took Updike’s death to make it happen,’ he said, noting that Updike had expressed that he never wanted a biography during his lifetime.'”

Here’s the full story and a photo by Reading Eagle photographer Bill Uhrich of Begley with conference co-directors Maria Mogford (left) and Sue Guay (right).

Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 6.59.07 PM

Screen Shot 2014-10-11 at 8.32.33 AMThe Reading Eagle and its online counterpart Berks-Mont News posted an article on David Updike‘s plenary presentation at the 3rd Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University.

“Through a journey of personal photographs and insight, David Updike, son of Pulitzer Prize winning author and Shillington native John Updike, spoke about his father’s childhood Oct. 2. . . .

“A slide show of photographs from John’s childhood accompanied Updike. Very few images of the inside of his father’s Shillington home exist, but the remnants of John Updike’s creativity survive. . . .

“‘Very early on he was aware of his authorship,’ he said, standing before a projection screen showing a photograph of his father’s practice signatures from when he was a boy. . . .

“‘His mother must have been startled and had to understand that this is no ordinary child,’ David said. ‘She kept his early works in a notebook.”

Here’s the whole article: “David Updike shares stories of father’s past.”

In a story written by Bruce Posten, the Reading Eagle noted “Alvernia to host 3rd conference on John Updike’s legacy.”

To clarify, the Saturday morning session with Updike classmates interviewed by Jack De Bellis is also open to the public.

“Speaking of Berks County as the major source of Updike’s literary muse,” Posten writes, “Guay said the author mined the area for stories, characters and reflections of changes in late 20th- and early 21st-century America.”

“So much has been torn down or taken away from Reading,” she said. “Highlighting Updike’s contribution is definitely something we shouldn’t overlook or forget.”

Bruce Posten of the Reading Eagle wrote a story in anticipation of Adam Begley’s visit to Reading for the Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference in which he spoke to three classmates and Updike’s Shillington contact and asked what they thought of the biography, Updike.

Dave Silcox, who served as Site Director for the first Updike Society conference at Alvernia University, said he’d give it an A, “but with a few key reservations.”

“I give Begley good grades for his book and I feel his attention to detail was impressive,” Silcox said. “I like the way he structured the book interweaving everything with John’s writings, even though John probably would have been very upset over Begley’s effort to show that so much of his work was autobiographical in nature.

“Had Martha (Updike’s second wife, who survives, as does his first wife, Mary) cooperated with Begley, maybe much more of the real person would have come out, assuming she (Martha) would have been willing to talk about the real person behind the man of letters,” Silcox said. “He (Begley) tried to fill that in by interviewing friends, but Updike had very few close friends after leaving Ipswich.”

“Updike classmates interviewed for biography.” 

As with the previous John Updike Society conference hosted by Alvernia, plenary sessions that would appeal to local residents are “open,” and Berks-Mont recently posted a story on David Updike’s upcoming conference talk at 2 p.m. on Thursday, October 2 in Francis Hall Theater.

“There will be family pictures and some artwork, along with my own narrative and excerpts from my father’s writing as well as his mother, Linda Grace Hoyer, who was born and died in Plowville and published two collections of short stories,” Updike said.

Updike also mentioned The John Updike Childhood Home, which the society owns and is in the process of turning it into a museum and literary center.

“I am happy his home is being turned into a museum. I hope it has a useful life beyond the occasional tourists, something like a writing center for local students manned by college students,” Updike said.

The details of management will be decided by the board, which consists of JUS board members plus the curator and a representative of the Updike family—with Elizabeth Cobblah Updike serving the first term. Right now, the house is still a “deconstruction” zone. Then comes the construction, and finally decisions pertaining to the running of the museum and extent to which the house can be used as a literary center.

But the general consensus is that the house should indeed be used by writers and students. Before the society board voted to establish a board to run the house, they approved remodeling of the annex to include an education room, where classes could meet, lectures could be given, and a video on Updike in Pennsylvania could be shown on a TV monitor.

“David Updike will share photos, narrative and excerpts at upcoming conference”



On October 1-4, 71 members of The John Updike Society will convene in Reading, Pa., for the Third Biennial John Updike Society Conference. The Friday Night at the (Reading Public) Museum reception will be held at the museum and sponsored by Albright College. The Wednesday night reception, the membership meeting, and the closing keynote address by Adam Begley will be held at the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, the conference hotel. All other sessions will be at Alvernia University, host to this year’s conference.


For the conference, members are traveling from eight different countries and 20 states.

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



« Older entries