Updike panels set for ALA 2024

Chicago’s Palmer House will welcome back the American Literature Association Conference the end of May, once again opening its world-famous Tiffany peacock doors to scholars from all over the world.

The John Updike Society will sponsor two panels:

Friday, May 24, 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m. Session 10-M “Revisiting Olinger Stories(1964) at 60 and The Afterlife(1994) at 30: A Roundtable” (Salon 6)

  • Moderator: Sylvie Mathé, Aix-Marseille University, France
  • Peter Bailey, St. Lawrence University, NY
  • Biljana Dojčinović, University of Belgrade, Serbia
  • Nemanja Glintić, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China
  • James Plath, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Matthew Shipe, Washington University in St. Louis, MO

Saturday, May 25, 8:30-9:50 a.m. Session 16-J “The Witches of Eastwick: novel (John Updike, 1984) v. film (George Miller, 1987): A Roundtable” (Salon 7)

  • Moderator: Adam Sexton, Yale University
  • Edward Allen, University of South Dakota
  • Carla Alexandra Ferreira, Federal University of São Carlos, Brazil
  • Olga Karasik-Updike, Independent Scholar, Newbury, MA
  • Robert Morace, Daemen University, Amherst, NY
  • Takashi Nakatani, Yokohama City University, Japan

Here’s a link to the most recent draft program.

Updike Society sponsors ALA panel on The Centaur

The Centaur was a big deal in 1963. The novel, which dealt with classical mythology on the surface of an otherwise realistic narrative, earned John Updike the National Book Award. His third novel (following The Poorhouse Fair and Rabbit, Run) turns 60 this year, and the American Literature Association panel on “The Centaur at Sixty: Updike’s Ulysses” will be reprised with a slightly different cast at the 7th Biennial John Updike Society Conference in Tucson this coming September.

As Stacy Olster noted in The Cambridge Companion to John Updike, “Updike’s willingness to assign tremendous significance to his childhood home reaches a crescendo in The Centaur, a powerful attempt to mythologize the artist’s early portrait by returning, as James Joyce did in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922), to ancient Greek stories.”

Updike had told Charlie Reilly in 1986, “For The Centaur, I had Ulysses in my head at all times.” Eight years earlier Updike had remarked that “the book had its origins in a little children’s book of Greek mythology which my ex-wife had as a girl and which I was just reading around in. Somewhere in it, I came across this variant, this footnote almost, to the Centaur myth. . . . And I thought, well, this is an unusual myth, especially in the sense that so few Greek myths involve the idea of sacrificing or laying down one’s life for another. . . . So, I began with the myth, and then my own father very naturally attached himself to it because he sort of loomed as a centaur in my own life at that time. The novel really took off with the myth, and for that reason the myth is really in the foreground of the novel, not in the background as in Ulysses.”

The ALA conference panel in Boston featured (l to r) Peter Bailey, Jim Plath, David Updike, and Olga Karasik-Updike. David brought his mother’s first edition of The Centaur, which had inside it a telegram of praise from one of the Soviet Union’s most famous writers—a note that Karasik-Updike read and contextualized for the audience.

Participants sought for Updike panel at ALA-Santa Fe symposium

Drury Plaza Hotel, Santa Fe

The John Updike Society will hold their 7th biennial conference in Tucson, Ariz. in the fall of 2023, but there’s an opportunity for some scholars to go to a different part of the American Southwest a year earlier.

After a two-year hiatus, the ALA will host a fall symposium in Santa Fe, N.M. in October 2022 on “The Historical Imagination in American Literature,” with Deborah Clarke (Arizona State University) serving as keynote speaker.

The Updike Society has been invited to sponsor a session, and a natural topic for papers or a discussion-based panel would seem to be “The Backdrop of History and Imagined Significance in John Updike’s Fiction,” which allows presenters to explore some of the many historical references in the novels and short stories and explicate their connections to Updike’s themes and narrative action.

The symposium will take place October 27-29 at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe. The conference fee is $175, and rooms are $135 per night. Santa Fe has a population of 87,505 but is part of the metropolitan area of Albuquerque/Santa Fe/Las Vegas, which has a population of 1.2 million. Santa Fe is known for the arts and for its connections to indigenous people.

As for the topic, conference director Olivia Carr Edenfield offers these thoughts-as-prompts:

Hotel lobby

“The Historical Imagination in American Literature:  What does it mean to envision and embody history in American writing?  How does a “usable past” shape our fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction? What philosophical, psychological, and political factors shape how writers look at a moment of time?  How do regional differences shape our historical perspectives? How do race, class, and gender influence the perception and presentation of historical realities? How important is the historical novel to our culture? How do the alternate histories of speculative fiction transform our understanding of time? 

Three papers and a moderator are needed for a traditional panel; five participants and a moderator make up a discussion-based roundtable. The direction the Society takes will be shaped by the response.

Participation is not limited to members of the Updike Society. Send proposals and expressions of interest to James Plath, jplath@iwu.edu.

Artisan Market, Palace of the Governors, downtown Santa Fe

Updike panels set, registration deadline nears for ALA

The John Updike Society was launched at the American Literature Association conference in Boston in May 2009 and has participated in ALA conferences ever since. The ALA is a coalition of societies devoted to the study of American authors. Many of those societies are single-author, and registrants/attendees are able to attend any sessions sponsored by the many societies.

Updike Society panels are set for the 33rd Annual Conference on American Literature at the historic Palmer House Hilton (celebrating its 150th anniversary this year) in downtown Chicago, Ill., May 26-29 2022:

Thursday, May 26, 2022
Session 1-I, 9-10:20 a.m.
“Women and Sex in the Works of John Updike and Other Male Authors”
Moderator: James Plath (Illinois Wesleyan Univ.)
Panelists: Susan Norton (Technological Univ. Dublin), Marshall Boswell (Rhodes College), Biljana Dojčinović (Univ. of Belgrade), Olga Karasik-Updike (Independent Scholar), and Matthew Koch (Tarrant County College).

Friday, May 27, 2022
Session 8-I, 10-11:20 a.m.
“Autobiography and Updike’s Self-Consciousness
Moderator: Matthew Koch (Tarrant County College)
Panelists: Peter Bailey (St. Lawrence Univ.), Sylvie Mathé (Aix-Marseille Univ.), Quentin Miller (Suffolk Univ.), Robert Morace (Daemen College), and James Schiff (Univ. of Cincinnati).

Friday, May 27, 2022
Session 9-L, 11:30 a.m.-12:50 p.m.
John Updike Society Business Meeting (all welcome to attend)

Full draft program

Those who are on the program are required to pre-register by April 15. The conference fee is $175, with a reduced rate of $125 for graduate students, independent scholars, and retired faculty. Information on the hotel conference rate, links, and other details can be found on the ALA website.

Updike Society well represented at New Orleans short story conference

In September, 2019, four members of The John Updike Society presented papers at a New Orleans symposium sponsored by the Society for the Study of the American Short Story and the American Literature Association.

Robert Luscher, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, formed the panel, which also included Professor Laurence W. Mazzeno, President Emeritus of Alvernia University, Reading, PA; Takashi Nakatani, Associate Professor of English, American Literature, and Literary Criticism of Yokohama City University, Japan; and Dr. Sue Norton, Lecturer of English at Technological University Dublin.

Their papers focused on John Updike’s “Divorcing,” selections from My Father’s Tears and Other Stories, selections from The Olinger Stories, and “Separating.”  The session was chaired by Associate Professor of English Leslie Petty of Rhodes College, Memphis, Tennessee.

John Updike’s Short Fiction
Chair: Leslie Petty, Rhodes College
1.  “Writing and Well Being: Story as Salve in the Work of Two Updikes,” Susan Norton, Technological University, Dublin
2.  “Outside the Grand Narrative: The Personal in John Updike’s Olinger Stories,”  Takashi Nakatani, Okohama City University
3.  “My Father’s Tears and Other Stories as (Literary) Last Will and Testament,” Laurence W. Mazzeno, Alvernia University
4.  “John Updike’s ‘Divorcing: A Fragment’ and the Question of Genre: Shoring Stories against the Ruins in Too Far to Go,” Robert M. Luscher, University of Nebraska at Kearney

Updike panels set for 30th ALA conference

The John Updike Society will be well represented at the 30th annual American Literature Association Conference in Boston, May 23-26. In addition to a business meeting scheduled for noon on Thursday, May 23, the society will sponsor two panels:

“Updike’s Global Reach: The Coup at 40″
Thursday, May 23, 10:30-11:50 a.m.
Moderator:  Sylvie Mathé, Aix-Marseille University
Kirk Curnutt, Troy University
Quentin Miller, Suffolk University
James Schiff, University of Cincinnati
Matthew Shipe, Washington University

“Updike’s The Maples Stories: Quirky or Quintessential Chronicle of a Marriage?”
Thursday, May 23, 4:30-5:50 p.m.
Moderator:  James Plath, Illinois Wesleyan University
Marshall Boswell, Rhodes College
Biljana Dojčinović, University of Belgrade
Lynn Leibowitz, Mercy College
Gail Sinclair, Rollins College

The society was launched 10 years ago at the ALA conference in Boston, so it also will be an anniversary celebration for those members who attend.

The Westin-Copley Place off Copley Square, site of the 30th ALA Conference.

Updike and David Foster Wallace societies to sponsor ALA panel

The David Foster Wallace and John Updike societies are co-sponsoring a session on “Great Male Narcissists” at the 29th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association, May 24-27, 2018, in San Francisco, Calif.

The purpose of the panel is to explore “Great Male Narcissists,” a phrase Wallace used to describe Updike, Philip Roth, and Norman Mailer in his acerbic review of Updike’s late work, Toward the End of Time. This panel intends to explore the connections and disparities between Updike’s and Wallace’s work, especially with regard to their depictions of masculinity. The aim is to complicate and introduce new ideas to both fields.

Here are more details.

Please note that the deadline for abstracts of no more than 300 words is January 15. Include your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information and attach your abstract as a Word document. Also indicate if you’ll need AV equipment and remember that scholars are limited to one presentation at this conference. Send your abstracts to:  info@dfwsociety.org.

ALA Annual Conference information

Updike Society program set for ALA

The John Updike Society will sponsor one roundtable discussion and one panel of papers at the American Literature Association conference in Boston, Mass., on May 25-26, 2017:

Did Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom Anticipate or Parallel the Rise of Trump Voters?
9:00-10:20 a.m., Thursday, May 25

  • Moderator: James Plath, Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Jerome Loving, Texas A&M University
  • Marshall Boswell, Rhodes College
  • Scott Dill, Case Western Reserve University
  • Quentin Miller, Suffolk University
  • Richard G. Androne, Albright College

John Updike: Comparatively Speaking
2:20-3:30 p.m., Friday, May 26

  • Chair: Sylvie Mathé, Aix-Marseille University
  • “The Work of Mind: John Updike’s Fiction and Ian McEwan’s Saturday,” Biljana Dojčinović, University of Belgrade
  • “’That a marriage ends is less than ideal’: Revisiting Updike’s Maples Stories,” James Schiff, University of Cincinnati
  • “The ‘Personal’ in John Updike’s Pennsylvania and His ‘Dialogues’ with Kenzaburo Oe: The ‘I-Novel’ Tradition of Japan and the Writers’ Reading in the Societies Divided,” Takashi Nakatani, Yokohama City University

A business meeting of the Society is scheduled for Thursday, May 25, from 10:30-11:50 a.m. All are welcome to attend, but must register for the conference. Here’s the entire program.

Call for papers, panels for ALA in Boston

screen-shot-2016-12-22-at-10-53-11-amThe ALA has issued its annual Call for Papers, to be presented at the 28th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association on May 25-28, 2017, in Boston.

As in previous years, the conference will be held at the Westin Copley Place, 10 Huntington Ave., and as in previous years member organizations are encouraged to sponsor two sessions.

This year The John Updike Society would like to sponsor two sessions:

  1. A moderated 4-5 person panel inspired by a recent article, “Did Updike’s Rabbit Angstrom Anticipate or Parallel the Rise of Trump Voters?”
  2. An open session with moderator and three papers presented on Updike—preferably compared to other authors.

If you are interested in participating, please contact James Plath, jplath@iwu.edu.


ALA Updike Society panel announced

Screen Shot 2016-01-06 at 7.39.15 AMThe John Updike Society has proposed to sponsor a panel on “Updike in Context” at this year’s American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco.

Chair: Judith Newman, University of Nottingham

“What Does Secularism Smell Like? Political Theology and John Updike’s The Coup,” Scott Dill, Case Western Reserve University

“After the Thrill Is Gone: Updike after the Cold War,” Matthew Shipe, Washington University

“Updike’s Visions of the South: From the U.S. South in The Poorhouse Fair toward the Postcolonial Caribbean South,” Takashi Nakatani, Yokohama City University

ALA has a committee that reviews all proposals and we should be hearing from them shortly.