On Thursday, March 13, the IUP English Department hosted the statewide 2014 English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities (EAPSU) Undergraduate English Studies Conference at the Kovalchick Complex, Indiana, Pa. Despite a formidable freeze and strong winds, many guests and participants from all over the state attended the conference. For many of the undergrads, it was their very first conference, an experience laced with (some) nervousness and (much) excitement.
The conference's overarching theme, “Popular Culture,” inspired many panels. These included “Engaging with Science Fiction and the Fantastic,” “Creative Writing Readings,” “Female Identity and Creative Writing,” “Writing the Family,” “Sociology and Popular Culture,” “Popular Television and the Teaching of Writing,” “Feminism in Popular Culture,” as well as “Popular Culture and the Construction of Reality,” among others.
John Branscum of IUP's English Department served as EAPSU 2014's lead organizer.
The event started at 8:00 a.m. and continued throughout the day and into the night. From 12:30 to 12:45, chair of conference John Branscum of IUP gave the welcoming remarks, and Carolyn Camp announced the EAPSU Poetry Contest winners. She also sincerely thanked IUP for the hosting of the conference.
After that, from 12:45 to 1:20, Alex Romagnoli and Gian Pagnucci, both from IUP, gave the keynote lecture of the conference, entitled “Enter the Superheroes.” The academic duo talked about superhero comic books and the important roles they have played in the lives of millions. They also called to attention the fact that despite their popularity, comic books are a rather neglected subject in serious academic circles. In order to fill that gap, the two have swooped in and co-authored a book called Enter the Superheroes: American Values, Culture, and the Canon of Superhero Literature (2013), on which they drew extensively for their lecture.
After the keynote lecture, the conference continued in different rooms, where different panels presented on different subjects. The lectures went on till 4:00 p.m., when dinner was announced. The event continued in the evening, from 5:30 to 7:30, when a reading contest was held at Indiana Theater where the participants performed their poetry, short fiction, creative nonfiction, comedy skit, dramatic monologue, and other forms of writing. In the same place, from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m., a dance and cosplay contest was held in which two bands (William Forrest and Ümläüt) and a DJ (Jarrell Scott Verbecken) also performed.
At the 2014 EAPSU conference, panels like this one on Multimodal Pedgagoy engaged large and varied audiences throughout the day.
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