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Updike Open Sessions

Date: 9/8/2010

Img: Updike logoPublic Sessions Announced for Updike Conference at Alvernia

Open sessions are free, require advance registration. High school teachers seminar on teaching Updike offered on Oct. 1

As the first biennial John Updike Society Conference at Alvernia University begins to take shape, three major sessions have been opened to the public, free of charge, including the conference keynote lecture. In addition, the conference is providing an extraordinary seminar on teaching John Updike for regional high school teachers that includes access to some of the top Updike scholars in the world.
The two free panel discussions — one featuring Updike’s family members on Friday, Oct. 1,  and another featuring Updike’s Shillington High School classmates on Saturday, Oct. 2, — will bookend the conference’s keynote address on Oct. 1, given by acclaimed author Ann Beattie,  and nationally known painter Lincoln Perry.
The conference takes place Oct. 1-3. Public sessions will be held in the Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center on the Alvernia campus. Seating is limited and those interested in attending must register in advance by calling the Holleran Center for Community Engagement at 610-790-1925 or by emailing Alvernia students can register for $15. A limited amount of scholarships are available from the Holleran Center.
Conference events open to the public include:
Updike Family Panel with Mary Weatheral, Elizabeth Cobblah, Miranda Updike, and Michael Updike; James Plath (Illinois Wesleyan University), moderator
Friday, Oct. 1: 10-10:50 a.m.
Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center

Keynote speakers Ann Beattie and Lincoln Perry
Friday, Oct. 1: 4:30-5:30 p.m.
Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center

Classmates Panel featuring Updike’s Shillington H.S. classmates
Saturday, Oct. 2: 11–11:50 a.m.
Bernardine Franciscan Conference Center

Held on Oct. 1, the John Updike Seminar for regional high school teachers hopes to enhance knowledge of the celebrated writer in his home region as well as dispel misconceptions about the difficulty of teaching Updike to high school students and suggest possible texts and strategies for high school use. The seminar will also provide a chance for high school teachers to talk about Updike both with each other and some of the major scholars in the field.
The seminar will offer teachers the opportunity to interact with Updike’s friends and family members, work with leading Updike scholars and attend three specialized pedagogy sessions designed for high school educators. Events will run from 9 am - 5:30 pm, and the registration fee of $25 will include all events, handouts, and brunch. Interested teachers should contact Richard G. Androne, Teacher’s Seminar Co-Program Director, Department of English, Albright College,

The John Updike Society, formed several months after Updike’s death in January 2009, is devoting its first conference to celebrate the prolific writer’s masterwork, Rabbit, Run, which marks its 50th publishing anniversary in 2010. The novel gave readers the iconic character Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom, an American Everyman.

The conference is primarily for members of The John Updike Society, a collection of scholars, critics, and enthusiasts who will share recent research and critical studies. The academic part of the conference includes a tour of local Reading sites important to Updike and his fiction and requires membership in the society. For information on how to join the society, and for full conference details, visit

  • 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.