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Kerouac as Modern Shaman

Date: 10/26/2010

In celebration of the 2010 Literary Festival at Alvernia, Dr. Thomas Bierowski (assistant professor of English) spoke in the Bernadine Lecture Hall on October 25, about his soon to be published book Kerouac as Modern Shaman. Before reading excerpts from the book, Dr. Bierowski mellowed the mood by played music while showing pictures and quotes on a slideshow. "The soul has been on the endangered list for a long time" was one of the many memorable quotes from the book.

Jack Kerouac has been known to inspire many famous writers due to his method of writing, which includes topics such as promiscuity, drugs, traveling, and Buddhism. In 1969 at the age of 47, Kerouac died from internal bleeding due to long-time abuse of alcohol. 

Dr. Tom Bierowski was born in Mt. Carmel, Pa. He attended Holy Spirit grade school and Our Lady of Lourdes Regional high school. After that, he joined the Order of Friars Minor Conventual ('The Franciscans”) where he wore a black habit and heavily contemplated the mysteries before returning to the secular world three years later. After twenty five years of various jobs, a B.A. in English from St. Joseph's University (1985), an M.A. from San Francisco State University in creative writing (1994), a Ph.D. in English from Lehigh University (2004), and now an Assistant Professor of English at Alvernia University, Dr. Tom reflects, “What a long strange trip it's been.”

  • 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.