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2018-19 Events

CALS began the 2018-19 school year as co-sponsor of the "Pages from 1968" Marathon Read. Attention turned next to Centre County Reads, where Katie Fallon's Vulture explored the life of the underappreciated turkey vulture. Inspired by Katie Fallon's book, CALS hosted a roundtable that considered "The Changing Nature of Nature writing" and co-sponsored a writing and art contest that asked entrants to try "Writing the Nonhuman." March saw the Ninth Annual Spring Symposium, "Corruption," and CALS concluded the year with the Eighth Annual First Book Institute.

2018 Marathon Read: Pages from 1968

September 13, 2018

The Marathon Read joined in the commemoration of 50 years since the watershed year of 1968. The Marathon Read featured texts written or published in 1968, including Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and works from Joan Didion, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alice Munro, Jorge Luis Borges, Susan Sontag, Galway Kinnell, and others.


Film Night at the Library

January 29 & February 1, 2019

A viewing and discussion of Winged Migration (G, 90min). This family-friendly documentary (2003) focused on the migratory patterns of birds, shot over the course of three years on all seven continents.


Winter Bird Walk

February 23, 2019

CALS and Centre County Libraries were at Millbrook Marsh to meet some of our feathered friends that call the marsh their home during the winter months. The walk focused on bird survival techniques. 

"The Changing Nature of Nature Writing" Roundtable Discussion

March 12, 2019

In Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird, author Katie Fallon illustrated a wide variety of possibilities, ranging from the scientific to the literary, for representing “nature” in writing. Inspired by Vulture’s diverse approach to nature writing, this roundtable invited three panelists to think together about how writers and researchers from different backgrounds interact with the natural spaces around us.

Panelists included:

  • McKay Jenkins, Cornelius Tilghman Professor of English, Journalism and Environmental Humanities at the University of Delaware, whose articles and books on people and the natural world include (most recently) Food Fight: GMOs and the Future of the American Diet; ContamiNation: My Quest to Survive in a Toxic World; and Bloody Falls of the Coppermine: Madness and Murder in the Arctic Barren Lands;
  • Talley Kayser, director of the Adventure Literature program in the Penn State English department, whose work includes both scholarly and creative writing about place, space, gender, and materiality;
  • and Elizabeth Hajek, Associate Professor of Geosciences, whose research and writing about Earth's stratigraphic record crosses disciplinary and geographic boundaries.

The Eighth Annual CALS Spring Symposium

March 25, 2019

This year’s symposium showcased nationally prominent scholars alongside Penn State faculty and examined ways in which American literature, culture, and society engage and are engaged in corruption.

 Roundtable One: The Roots and Routes of Corruption

  • Leigh Claire La Berge, Assistant Professor of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY)
  • Gordon Fraser, Senior Visiting Fellow, Center for Humanities and Information, The Pennsylvania State University, and Presidential Academic Fellow, University of Manchester
  • Cynthia Young, Associate Professor of African American Studies and English, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Jeffrey T. Nealon, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English and Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Nick Mitchell, Assistant Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies and Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz


  • Michael Bérubé, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English, The Pennsylvania State University

Roundtable Two: The Art(s) of Corruption

  • Kyla Wazana Tompkins, Associate Professor of English and Gender and Women’s Studies, Pomona College
  • Nicole Seymour, Associate Professor of English, California State University, Fullerton
  • Eric Bennett, Associate Professor of English, Providence College
  • Julia Kasdorf, Professor of English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, The Pennsylvania State University
  • Scott Selisker, Associate Professor of English, University of Arizona
  • Rosemary Jolly, Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Weiss Chair of the Humanities, The Pennsylvania State University

Meet at the Creek

March 31, 2019

At Shaver’s Creek Centre County Reads brought back the center’s weekend animal program in the newly constructed raptor center. Inspired by Katie Fallon’s Vulture: the Private Life of an Unloved Bird, we celebrated these fascinating ecosystem cleaners and met the Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center’s resident Turkey and Black Vultures, as well as other avian scavengers, such as Bald and Golden Eagles.

2019 CALS Graduate Award Symposium

April 10, 2019

Patrick Allen, 2018 CALS Summer Graduate Fellow, presented part of his dissertation research on the work of Black doctresses.