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Updike Conference Keynote Speakers Announced

Date: 5/12/2010

Acclaimed author Ann Beattie and nationally recognized painter Lincoln Perry will serve as the keynote speakers for Updike in Pennsylvania: The First Biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University, October 1-3.

The conference’s keynote presentations, family panel, and classmate panel will be open to the public. Society members attending the conference will also be treated to a multitude of academic sessions and area tours related to Updike’s life and literature.

Ann Beattie is the author of more than a dozen novels and short story collections. Her story, Janus, was selected by Updike to be part of his Best American Short Stories of the Century collection. In fact, Updike once wrote, “Miss Beattie’s power and influence… arise from her seemingly restless immersion in the stoic bewilderment of a generation without a cause.” She will talk about Updike’s short fiction from the perspective of a short story writer.

Lincoln Perry is a nationally recognized painter who has exhibited 20 paintings inspired by Updike’s Rabbit collection. His work has been featured in solo exhibitions in several states (including New York and Washington, D.C.) and presented in group exhibitions in a dozen other states. Perry is a Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of Virginia.

Visit the Updike Society website for a full list of events and complete bios on both keynote speakers.

John Updike, who often spoke of “the proud State of Pennsylvania from which I come,” was born in West Reading, raised in Shillington for the first 13 years of his life, and lived on the family farm in Plowville until he left to attend college at Harvard, spending three summers working as a copy boy for the Reading Eagle.

The first Updike Society Conference will use the Berks County, Pa., area where Updike spent his early years as the backdrop for the biennial gathering of scholars, critics, and enthusiasts who will share recent research and critical studies of the author’s work.

Conference events open to the public:

Friday, Oct. 1, 2010 — 10:00-10:50 a.m.

Family Panel with Mary Weatheral, Elizabeth Coblah, Miranda Updike, and Michael Updike; James Plath (Illinois Wesleyan University), moderator

Friday, Oct. 1, 2010 — 4:30-5:30 p.m.

Keynote speakers Ann Beattie and Lincoln Perry

Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010 — 11:00–11:50 a.m.

Classmates panel featuring Updike’s Shillington H.S. classmates

Want more? Register for the Updike Conference to take part in three full days of events.

  • History: Established as a private four-year liberal arts college in 1958, Alvernia celebrated its 50th year by being awarded university status in 2008.
  • Heritage: Founded by the Bernardine Sisters, a Catholic religious order, the university embraces the Franciscan core values of service, humility, collegiality, contemplation and peacemaking.
  • Motto: “To Learn, To Love, To Serve”
  • Campus: The main campus in Reading is 121 acres, with two satellite campuses in Philadelphia and Pottsville (Schuylkill County).
  • Location: Our residential campus is situated three miles from center-city Reading, in the scenic Blue Mountain area of Eastern Pennsylvania.
  • Enrollment: 3,000 students attend Alvernia including 1,500 traditional undergraduates, 600 continuing education students, and 780 graduate students. Over 77% of first-year students live on campus.
  • Faculty: Our professors are accomplished scholars, experts in their fields, and supportive mentors. The student-to-faculty ratio is 14:1. Most classes are 20 students or fewer.
  • Athletics: NCAA Division III, member of the Commonwealth Conference of the Middle Atlantic States Athletic Corporation and member of Eastern College Athletic Conference, 8 men’s and 10 women’s intercollegiate sports.