According to Associated Press Writer, Michael Rubinkam, "Rabbit is running again, this time to a new home at Pennsylvania's Alvernia University."
Alvernia University, located in the same town where acclaimed author John Updike was born and raised, will soon house the scholarly archives of The John Updike Society. The society is an international organization dedicated to the study and promotion of the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author’s work. Updike died in January, 2009 at age 76.
Alvernia is hosting the first annual international conference of The John Updike Society, Oct. 1-3, which is attracting Updike scholars and enthusiasts from around the world.
To be housed in the Franco Library, the archive currently consists of three collections: the Rachael C. Burchard Papers, the Larry C. Randen Collection, and the David Silcox/Thelma Lewis Collection.
In addition, Alvernia has appointed Dr. Jack DeBellis, a member of The John Updike Society board who is best known for two invaluable resources — The John Updike Encyclopedia and John Updike: A Bibliography of Primary & Secondary Materials, 1948-2007, as the university’s first Updike Scholar in Residence.
The Rachael C. Burchard Papers contain materials from Burchard’s John Updike: Yea Sayings, important as an early monograph of Updike scholarship. The Larry C. Randen Collection contains items collected by Randen, who served as assistant to James Yerkes at The Centaurian, an online Updike resource. The David Silcox/Thelma Lewis Collection combines materials collected by Silcox, Updike’s longtime Shillington contact, and Lewis, who advised the Chatterbox literary magazine during Updike’s years at Shillington High School.
Although the collections have not yet been cataloged, they are expected to include a wide range of materials related to Updike’s work and life that will serve as a significant resource for both scholars and students.
“Pennsylvania was important to Updike,” said James Plath, professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University and president of The John Updike Society. “While Harvard’s Houghton Library is now and will always be the main center for Updike scholarship, it’s good to have an accessible archive in Reading, too. “
“We hope the archive will be used frequently,” Plath said. “It’s also an option, now, for those who might have materials to donate but prefer them to stay in-state.”
“With this addition, Alvernia becomes an important center for studies on the life and work of John Updike,” said Thomas F. Flynn, president of Alvernia. “It is truly an extraordinary occasion.”
Alvernia University was founded in 1958, the same year Updike saw publication of his very first book, The Carpentered Hen and Other Tame Creatures. It is a fast growing Franciscan university of 3,000 students which combines diverse academic opportunities with personal attention and an unmatched commitment to community service. The university has been recognized by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as one of only 119 institutions among the thousands of American colleges and universities considered models of civic engagement and community partnerships.
The John Updike Society is comprised of members from around the world, with the purpose of awakening and sustaining reader interest in the literature and life of John Updike, promoting literature written by Updike, and fostering and encouraging critical responses to his literary works. For information on joining, see the Society’s website.