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2016-2017 Events

The 2016-2017 year began with the "Political Imagination" Marathon Read in September. This was followed by the CALS Community Read/Centre County Reads, which investigated questions of the American West in Stacey Lee's Under a Painted Sky. To engage with the novel, CALS hosted a writing contest on the subject of being "wanted" and a roundtable on Rethinking the American West. In March, CALS organized an invigorating symposium called Radical Engagements: Speculative Fictions and Social Justice.

2016 Marathon Read: The Political Imagination

September 15th-16th2016 Marathon Read Poster.jpg

During this annual event co-sponsored by CALS, volunteers take turns reading over a 24-hour period. The event for 2016, The Political Imagination, focused on documents and literature with political themes by authors from around the world. Each title was available in English and many in other languages as well. Volunteers read for two to five minutes from a variety of texts related to the theme. Texts included The Declaration of Independence, The Declaration of the Rights of Man, The Seneca Falls Declaration, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Letter from Birmingham Jail," The Hunger GamesThe Hour of the Star, and Selections from Walt Whitman.


"Wanted" CALS & Centre County Reads Writing Contest

Winners announced March 2017

This contest was part of the 2017 Centre County Reads/CALS Community Read of Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky. The novel tells the story of two female runaways on the Oregon Trail in 1849 as they make friends, escape their enemies, and seek both freedom and family.

We asked contestants: does it mean to be “wanted”? The word may have either positive or negative connotations: to be wanted is to belong, but the word may also signify pursuit, escape, and a sense of danger. The categories included best short fiction, best nonfiction, best poetry, and best entry for a writer under 18.


Radical Engagements: Speculative Fictions and Social Justice Spring Symposium

March 20th, 2017

At the sixth annual CALS symposium, five leading scholars of speculative fiction joined the Penn State community to explore ways in which speculative fictions make possible and reveal the limitations of how to imagine socially-just realities. Cognizant of the multi-generic origins of the speculative—including fantasy, horror, folklore, myth, science fiction, and the weird—the symposium’s two roundtables highlighted the relationships between speculation, futurity, and the ethico-political imagination.


Rethinking the American West Roundtable

April 3rd, 2017

In Under a Painted Sky, Stacey Lee reenvisions life on the Oregon Trail in 1849 from the point of view of two female outcasts: a second-generation Chinese-American violinist and a runaway slave. Using Lee’s text as a touchstone for this roundtable discussion, three invited panelists discussed contemporary ideas about the American West as it has been reimagined and recreated in literature, film, and television.

Featured Presenters included Susan Kollin, College of Letters and Science Distinguished Professor at Montana State University and editor of A History of Western American Literature; Richard Aquila, Professor Emeritus of History and American Studies at Penn State Behrend and author of Wanted Dead or Alive: The American West in Popular Culture (1996); and Charity Fox, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Gender Studies at Penn State Harrisburg, who focuses on intersections of gender, class, race, and everyday cultures in 20th and 21st century American popular culture.