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OBU to Host Lamppost Literary Conference March 5, 2021

November 18, 2020

OBU will host the inaugural Lamppost Literary Conference March 5, 2021, on the University’s campus in Shawnee. The conference promotes the reading and teaching of the Great Books and is designed for classical educators, home schoolers, and all teachers and lovers of the Great Books. The conference will also be live-streamed allowing for an online attendance option.

OBU’s Division of Language and Literature is hosting the conference, designed to attract students, parents, teachers, and administrators primarily from Christian and classical schools, as well as home school networks. Taking its name from C.S. Lewis’s lamppost in Narnia, and with writers like Lewis and his friend J.R.R. Tolkien as inspirations, the conference will offer a Christian framework for the imaginative practices of reading great literature and writing creatively. In its inaugural year, the theme of the conference is “The Christian Imagination in Literature.”

Registration cost is $25 for adults with a special early bird discount by Jan. 4, 2021, and $35 thereafter. Registration for students is $15 with the early bird discount by Jan. 4, 2021, and $25 thereafter. The cost to attend the conference online is $10, which includes streaming and recordings of the plenary sessions and keynote, but not the breakout sessions, workshops, or brown bag discussion. Registration closes on March 1, 2021.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson, a classical education and liberal arts author, scholar, and advocate. Wilson will speak on “The Scandalous Holy: Following Fictional Saints on the Path to Holiness.” Other featured speakers include professional authors Hanna C. Howard, Diane Glancy, and Dr. Matthew Dickerson. An especially unique aspect of the conference will be breakout sessions focused on teaching particular great books, such as “Beowulf” and Augustine’s “Confessions,” in the classical school context, led by OBU English faculty.

Members of the OBU English faculty speaking at the conference include Dr. Brent Newsom, associate professor of English and division chair for Language and Literature; Dr. Benjamin Myers, Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature and professor of literature and English; Dr. Jonathan Callis, assistant professor of English; Dr. Lindsey Panxhi, director of the Honors Program and assistant professor of English; Dr. Alan Noble, associate professor of English; Dr. Lyda Wilbur, assistant professor of Spanish; Dr. Kaine Ezell, associate professor of English; and Dr. Sidney Watson, professor of English.

The Lamppost Literary Conference was born from the OBU English Department’s desire to serve educators and students at the secondary level. OBU faculty also hope to build a strong network with schools and homeschool groups whose students may be attracted to what OBU offers. This goes beyond the Department of English to include the OBU Honors Program and all academic areas of the university.

The conference dovetails with three other important events occurring on campus. The University is hosting the annual Visiting Writer Seminar March 3-4, featuring novelist, poet, and playwright Diane Glancy. Glancy will also speak during the Lamppost Literary Conference. The OBU Office of Admissions is hosting a Preview Day March 5, simultaneously with the Lamppost conference. This is an opportunity for prospective students and their families to tour campus and learn more about OBU as they consider college choices for the future. The following Day, March 6, OBU is hosting a youth apologetics conference titled “Generation ‘Why?’- Reasonable Faith in a Post-Christian Age,” a one-day-only conference for youth groups and students on campus.

Dr. Jessica Hooten Wilson is a Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence at the University of Dallas in the Classical Education and Humanities Graduate Program. She is the author of three books—“Giving the Devil his Due: Flannery O’Connor and The Brothers Karamazov,” which received a 2018 Christianity Today book of the year award; “Walker Percy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and the Search for Influence;” and “Reading Walker Percy’s Novels.” In 2019, she received the Hiett Prize for Humanities from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. She is co-editor of the volume, “Solzhenitsyn and American Culture: The Russian Soul in the West,” a collection of essays on the legacy of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Currently, she is preparing Flannery O’Connor’s unfinished novel, “Why Do the Heathen Rage?” for publication.

Hanna C. Howard is an OBU graduate and young adult fantasy author. Howard writes fantasy with a classic bent, in the tradition of Robert McKinley, Kristin Cashore and Garth Nix. She spent most of her childhood wondering how she might avoid growing up and eventually solved the conundrum by becoming an artist and a writer. She considers tea an essential food group, has more books than shelf space and thinks the ultimate geek triumvirate is Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who. She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with her husband Dan, their son Edmund, a dog, and a cat. Her novel, “Ignite the Sun,” was released in August 2020 and is available in Magic City Books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository and Goodreads.

Diane Glancy is a renowned author of Cherokee descent, gifted in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and playwriting. Glancy’s work often reflects her Native American heritage. Part Cherokee, and of English and German descent, she was born in Kansas City, Missouri. Glancy has served as artist-in-residence for the Oklahoma State Arts Council, traveling around the state to teach poetry to Native American students, and has taught Native American literature and creative writing at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Reviewers have noted Glancy’s ability to combine genres, to portray both Native American and non-Native characters, and to depict Native American beliefs and Christianity in her writing. Adept at writing free verse as well as prose poems, she often portrays the intersections of new and old worlds, reporting on history, religion and the loss of Native traditions. Glancy has explored Native American history in depth in her novels, “Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears” and “Stone Heart: A Novel of Sacajawea.”

Glancy’s collection of poems, “Primer of the Obsolete,” won the 2003 Juniper Prize for Poetry. She has also received the Five Civilized Tribes Playwriting Laureate Prize; the Oklahoma Book Award; the Cherokee Medal of Honor, Cherokee Honor Society, Tahlequah, Oklahoma; the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry; grants from the National Endowment for the Arts; and a Sundance Screenwriting Fellowship.

In 2014, Professor Matthew Dickerson completed his 25th year as a member of the computer science department at Middlebury College. He earned a BA from Dartmouth College in 1985 and PhD in computer science from Cornell University, and he was the first faculty member with a PhD in computer science hired by the college. Dickerson also did graduate work in Old English Language and Literature and has published several books including a recent medieval historical novel titled, “The Rood and the Torc,” set in the middle of the seventh century in Europe. He is an internationally known scholar on the works of J.R.R. Tolkien with four published books about Tolkien, as well as book chapters on Tolkien in five other volumes. 

Dickerson has continued his research and writing about literature, with a special interest in environmental literature and nature writing, and in mythopoeic literature, especially that of J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. He has published several books about literature, including, “Ents, Elves and Eriador: the Environmental Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien,” along with Jonathan Evans, and “Narnia and the Fields of Arbol: the Environmental Vision of C.S. Lewis,” with David O'Hara, which bring together his interests in environmental and mythopoeic literature. His other titles include, “From Homer to Harry Potter: a Handbook of Myth and Fantasy,” “Following Gandalf: Epic Battles and Moral Victory in the Lord of the Rings,” “Hammers and Nails: the Life and Music of Mark Heard,” and “The Finnsburg Encounter.”

Find out more and register for the Lamppost Literary Conference.