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Famous Authors, Actors and More at the 2011 Week of Writing

By Maia Livengood


May 16, 2011 — The sixth annual Week of Writing (WoW) will kick off on May 23, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. in Behrakis Grand Hall. This year boasts some exciting special guests, including comic book writer John Arcudi, best known for his work on The Mask; Tom Brennan, Drexel alumnus and editor at Marvel Comics; travel writer and actor Andrew McCarthy; and H.G. Buzz Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights. As always, the series will also include readings by faculty and students, as well as panels, writing workshops, the Story Slam and a bookfair.

2011 Week of Writing Banner

Panel discussions will center on a range of topics, from “The Future of the Graphic Novel” and “Sketch Comedy Writing,” to “The Art of Advertising” and “The Young Adult Novel.” On Thursday, May 26 at 12:30pm, the “Making History” panel will feature Bissinger, among others. Bissinger is a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and the author of three highly-acclaimed nonfiction books, including Friday Night Lights and A Prayer for the City, the critically-acclaimed account of former Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell’s first term. Bissinger and his fellow panelists will discuss the challenges involved in manipulating historical events and characters in their writing, including the issue of achieving realistic atmosphere and (in some cases) dialogue, and the problems involved in recreating the past with limited or contradictory resources.

Also on May 26, four accomplished writers will discuss travel writing, including their own work and what it means to be a travel writer in the 21st century. Andrew McCarthy will be among the panelists. McCarthy is a two-time Lowell Thomas Award winner and a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler. His travel writing has appeared in Travel+Leisure, Men's Journal, National Geographic Adventure, and The Atlantic, among others. Before travel writing, McCarthy was best known for his starring roles in such films as “Pretty in Pink,” “St. Elmo's Fire,” and “Weekend at Bernie's.”

Reading marathons throughout the week will feature the student winners of the Drexel Publishing Group writing contests, as well as the work of faculty from across the University.

“This year,” noted Kathleen Volk Miller, organizer of WoW and co-director of the Drexel Publishing Group, “our investment is university-wide and not just something the English department is doing. We’ve integrated other departments and colleges into our process from the very early planning stages, and will have representation from Pennoni, Westphal, and various CoAS departments.”

Painted Bride Quarterly, an international literary publication housed in the College of Arts and Sciences, will also host the third annual Bookfair for Literacy in the Great Court of the Main Building on Wednesday, May 25. The Bookfair will feature both regional and national literary publications, including the American Poetry Review, Philadelphia Stories, The Literary Review, and comic book publisher Ringtail Café Productions, as well as a used book sale. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to Philadelphia Reads, a literacy non-profit, while the remaining books will be given to Books through Bars, an organization that distributes educational materials to prisoners. The entire Drexel community is invited to donate their used books: drop-boxes are located on the first floors of the Creese Student Center and MacAlister Hall. This event, in particular, harnesses efforts to acknowledge that the written word has never been more important, and that the role of the book continues to be crucial.

The week will culminate in one of WoW’s historically most popular events, the Story Slam. Part Whose Line is It Anyway? and part Henry Rollins, the event is a glimpse into the monthly Story Slams hosted by Painted Bride, of which Volk Miller is editor in chief. Often humorous by nature, the Slam introduces students to the spontaneous side of writing—encouraging them to re-imagine literature, and to write it.

Said Volk Miller, “I would hope that WoW would be one of the things that really does set us apart from other schools; we have a spectrum of events and fantastic guests—every panel is put together with so much thought. To be given that opportunity right on your own campus, to have these really unique, one-of-a-kind events, is very lucky.”

Locations for WoW events vary, though most will be hosted in the Mandell Theater Lobby, accessible via Chestnut Street entrances. Please check the event schedule for individual event details.

This event is sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English and Philosophy, and in part by Magnificent Minds, Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts and Design and the Pennoni Honors College.

Maia Livengood '12 is a Business Administration major with concentrations in Finance and Economics, as well as an English minor. Working for ASK, she has developed a strong interest in publication management and hopes to build upon the experience throughout her professional career.

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