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American Literature as a Public Space: the 5th Annual CALS Spring Symposium

CALS seeks to encourage, and to provide a vital forum for, new ways of reading and thinking about American literature. Consistent with that emphasis, this symposium brings together five invited participants with Penn State students, faculty, and the public at large to celebrate the many innovative ways individuals, museums, centers, foundations, libraries, blog sites, and other spaces are engaging readers, drawing them together, and making American literature an important public space.

Panelists on the first two sessions will deliver twenty-minute remarks suggesting how the sites that they are affiliated with relate to the symposium topic. The final session will be in roundtable format and features five presenters who will offer seven-minute statements on sites that encourage the reading of American literature beyond the walls of the university. The goal for this symposium is twofold: to celebrate ongoing efforts to situate American literature as an important part of civic life and to imagine other ways to position the reading, writing, and study of American literature in public spaces going forward.

Panel One: 10:00-11:45 a.m.

American Literature as Public Space

Joseph Coulson, Author and President, The Great Books Foundation

Maggie Dietz, Poet, Assistant Professor of English, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, and Director, The Favorite Poem Project

Malcolm E. O’Hagan, Founder and President, The American Writers Museum

Panel Two: 1:30-3:00 p.m.

The Public Spaces of American Literature

Ellis Avery, Author, Assistant Professor of Poetry, Columbia University, and Contributing Editor, Public Books

Paul Lai, Intermittent Librarian, Hennepin County and Ramsey County Libraries (MN), Adjunct Instructor, Information and Media Studies, Minneapolis Community & Technical College, and Co-Editor, Asian American Literature Fans

Susan Russell, Associate Professor of Theatre, Pennsylvania State University Laureate, 2014-2015, and Founder, Cultural Conversations 

Closing Roundtable: 3:00-4:00 p.m.

American Literary Publics

Elaine Meder-Wilgus, Owner, Webster's Bookstore Cafe

William Brockman, Humanities Librarian

Julia Spicher Kasdorf, Professor of English and Women's Studies

Ebony Coletu, Assistant Professor of English

Jonathan Eburne, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and English 

For additional information, please contact , symposium organizer and Director of the Center for American Literary Studies.