Newman University presents 15th Annual Literary Festival April 3-5

Mar 19, 2014

Newman University will present the 15th Annual Literary Festival April 3, 4 and 5 at various locations on the Newman campus. The theme for this year’s event is “Zombiefest.” The special guest speaker will be Robin Becker, who will read from her novel Brains at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 3 in the Jabara Flexible Theatre, inside the De Mattias Fine Arts Center.

The Newman Literary Festival was created as a way for people to celebrate literature and other forms of written arts. It is a combination of scholarly presentations/analyses (typically essay readings) and creative interpretations such as poems, short stories, scenes from plays and music.

This year’s theme was inspired by the fast-growing popularity over the past decades of the zombie theme. Newman Assistant Professor of English Susan Crane-Laracuente, Ph.D. said the conference offers an opportunity for people who have been thinking about this idea to get together and exchange ideas.

“The hallmark of any liberal arts institution is the ability to collaborate in a variety of interdisciplinary ways,” Crane said. “Newman is exemplary in this aspect and the Literary Festival is a shining example of how the disciplines of theatre, literature, and art, and others from across the university, can find multiple intersections.”

The keynote speaker, Robin Becker, grew up in Hackensack, N.J., until she was 18, when she decided to visit other places. Over the next few years she lived in Philadelphia, Austin, San Francisco, Baton Rouge and Kirksville, Mo.

She also lived for three months in a 1972 Volkswagen Microbus, and in 1994 spent nine months backpacking throughout the Middle East and Eastern Europe. In 2000, she received her Master of Fine Arts from Louisiana State University. She currently teaches writing at the University of Central Arkansas.

Reviews of her novel Brains include one by S.G. Browne, author of Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament, who said the book is a, “zombie delight for the thinking man (and woman). It is a feast of literary parallels, pop culture references, and historical metaphors, with enough blood, guts, and brains to satisfy any zombie lover’s appetite.”

This year’s conference will also feature a “Zombie Prom” on the evening of Friday, April 4, as part of the celebration and a way for students to show off their work.

All Zombiefest events are open to the public. Most presentations are free. Non-student presenters must pay a registration fee. Entrance to the Zombie Prom requires a donation (no minimum) at the door, with proceeds going to the Alzheimer’s Association (

Highlights of Zombiefest are listed below. For more information on Becker and the festival, visit the web site at, or contact Crane-Laracuente at 316-942-4291, ext. 2226, or [email protected].

Thursday, April 3:
7 p.m. – “Brains Talk,” Robin Becker

Friday, April 4:
9-10 a.m. – Various Paper Presentations
11 a.m. – David Carter and Dr. Joshua Papsdorf discuss Apocalyptic Visions
1 p.m. – Robin Becker Master Class
2 p.m. – Dr. Chris Fox and Dr. Kelly Clasen discuss Historical and Pop Culture Zombies
3 p.m. – Newman Theater Department presents Zombie Shorts
4 p.m. – Roundtable Zombie Discussion with Robin Becker, Rodrick Pocowatchit and Sanj Surati
7 p.m. – Zombie Joes Improv Group
8 p.m. – Zombie Prom: Charity for Brains

Saturday, April 5
9-10 a.m. – Various Paper Presentations
11 a.m. – Dr. Susan Orsbon and Dr. Greg Smith discuss The Risen Dead
1 p.m. – Various Paper Presentations
2 p.m. – Dr. Cheryl Golden discusses Poison
3 p.m. – “Super Villains,” a poetry reading by Bryan D. Dietrich
4 p.m. – Newman Theater Department presents scenes from “Frankenstein”
7 p.m. – “The Evolutionary Benefit of Horror,” Dr. Michael Austin
8 p.m. – Coelacanth, student literary magazine debut and reading
9 p.m. – Late Movie (TBA)

All events are co-sponsored by KMUW and Eighth Day Books.