Join Newman in celebrating the 20th annual Literary Festival


Literature lovers of Wichita, now is your chance to celebrate authors and storytelling through colorful presentations, readings and short performances at Newman’s Literary Festival.

Each year, the Newman English department hosts the Literary Festival — also known as Litfest — to showcase keynote speakers, students’ written and performative works as well as faculty lectures.

The 2019 Litfest is co-sponsored by the Gerber Institute and features a special theme. Coordinators of this year’s event will introduce discussion panels of Christian themes and connections found in the ancient Anglo-Saxon epic “Beowulf.”

Professor of English Bryan Dietrich, Ph.D., said they chose the “Beowulf” theme because it is the “foundational piece of literature for all of English literature.”

“It also ties into issues that are important today, just like they were long ago,” he said. “Finally, in an era of all superheroes all the time, it seemed like Beowulf, being the original English superhero, would rock the mead hall.”

The two-day literary festival will be filled with readings, talks, panels, a master class, book signings, performances and even movies.

Events will be held Thursday, April 11, and Friday, April 12, with most events taking place in the Jabara Theatre located in De Mattias Hall. The Literary Festival is free and open to the public.

Headliners include New York Times best-selling author Maria Dahvana Headley and Kevin Rabas, current Kansas Poet Laureate. Both scholars will present back-to-back on Thursday evening in Jabara.

Headley will also present a reading and book signing of her novel, “The Mere Wife,” at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 12, at Eighth Day Books.

Literary Festival 2019
Shakespearean scholar Tiffany Stern speaks at the 2017 Litfest event themed, “I would the gods had made thee political.”

Additionally, students will present their debut of the 2019 “Coelacanth” Student Literary Journal.

The literary journal, which is named for the near-extinct ancient fish, is a compilation of student poems, art, photography and prose — including short stories and plays.

Brianna Southworth is a student editor for the Coelacanth and said it’s a great opportunity for students to “put some of their work out there.”

“I’m not sure a lot of people who are interested in those kinds of creative pursuits know where to start when they want to publish their work,” she said. “I feel that since the Coelacanth is a smaller school-based publication, it provides that first stepping stone for a lot of people.”

Undergraduate students from any university have the opportunity to submit their literary and artwork for consideration and a Newman student-run editing team gains experience with revising and compiling the literary magazine.

Two student writers will also be recognized for their winning submissions in “Coelacanth.” One poetry winner and one prose winner will be selected by noteworthy poetry and prose judges, and each honorary student will receive the $200 Sister Madeleine Kisner Poetry Prize award for their pieces.

“Litfest brings the world of literature to life for a campus deeply steeped in a liberal arts tradition,” Dietrich added. “It allows people to understand why writing and words are important and why we need communication now more than ever. Join us for this year’s exciting festivities!”

The Sloppy Joe Improv Troupe will perform a free and live show on Friday evening with a final time to be announced.

For more information about the Literary Festival, contact Professor of English Bryan Dietrich, Ph.D., by email at dietrichb@newmanu.edu or by phone at (316) 942-4291, ext. 2341.



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