Drexel’s sixth annual Week of Writing event featured numerous English-centric activities occurring at various locations on campus from May 22-29.
Also known as WoW, the Week of Writing held 15 separate free events that were open to the public. Highlights of the weeklong event included discussion panels, prolific authors as guest speakers, readings by members of the Drexel community, a story slam and several editing sessions for different fields of writings.
The Week of Writing, which was hosted by the Drexel Publishing Group, started with a reading marathon in Behrakis Grand Hall May 23 where faculty and student winners from the WoW and DPG contests read their work.
“It was a lot more interesting that I thought it would be,” Shaan Desai, a freshman economics major, said of the activity, which ran from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Desai said his English professor offered extra credit to any student who went to a WoW event.
Later that day, from 3 to 4:30 p.m., experts in the graphic novel genre discussed the history and future of graphic novels in a panel titled “The Future of the Graphic Novel,” that took place in the Mandell Theater lobby in the Creese Center.
The discussion included three Drexel alumni, with panelist Tom Brennan, an editor at Marvel Comics who graduated in 2005 with a degree in screenwriting and playwriting, and moderator Don Haring, Jr., a graduate of Drexel’s graphic design program who has taught in the department for 12 years. Haring’s work was also featured in The Triangle in the early 1990s. The last Drexel alumnus panelist was Peter T. Buckley, a lifelong comic book collector and the editor-in-chief of MyLatestDistraction.com, a blog that reviews pop-culture, who graduated with a B.S. and M.S. in bioscience and biotechnology.
Rounding out the discussion were JG Jones, an artist who has worked on titles like Marvel Boy and Wonder Woman, and John Arcudi, a writer who has worked for graphic novels like Marvel, DC Comics and Dark Horse, where he co-created material used with “The Mask” franchise that later spawned a 1994 film and 1995 animated series.
A panel dedicated to the marketing methods used in product advertisements met May 24 from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. in the Mandell Theater lobby. Titled “The Art of Advertising,” the discussion featured four professionals with experience in branding, marketing, advertising and merchandising.
Representing Drexel University were Elizabeth Hanson, director of marketing communications in the Goodwin College, and Joseph H. Hancock II, associate professor of fashion design and design and merchandising. The other panelists included Sara Rodowich, regional director of The Fashion Group International, and Natalie Nixon, associate professor and director of the fashion industry management program at Philadelphia University.
Another session of marathon readings by winners of the WoW and DPG contests continued May 24 from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m. in the Mandell Theater lobby.
Authors and experts of young adult novels met in the Mandell Theater lobby May 24 from 2 to 3:20 p.m. All of the panelists published works in 2010 and talked about everything from their individual writing techniques to current trends in young adult literature.
Moderating the event was Laurie Davis, a library media specialist at University City High School Promise Academy. Panelists included author Josh Berk, who wrote “The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin,” and April Lindner, a professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University who published her poetry in a collection titled “Skin,” that received the Walt McDonald First-Book Prize in Poetry. Dianne Salerni, author of “We Hear the Dead,” also spoke, as did Cheryl McFadden, who works at the Office of Secondary School Reform.
Immediately after “The Art of Advertising” panel was the “Young Adult Breakout Session” that allowed small groups of the authors, Drexel faculty and experienced students to break into small groups to write and discuss young adult literature.
The Painted Bride Quarterly, the Drexel University literary magazine, held a used book sale called PBQ Fair for Literacy in the Great Court of the Main Building May 25 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Profits from used books from a variety of local publishers were donated to Philadelphia Reads, a local literacy group that fights children’s illiteracy in Philadelphia. Books that weren’t sold were also donated to Books Through Bars, a nonprofit organization that helps the incarcerated and their families.
Editors were also available for questions and discussion during WoW. Those in the journalism or creative writing fields held a speed editing session in the Main Auditorium May 25 from noon to 1:30 p.m. Later, from 3:30 to 5:30, editors from various fields answered publishing questions and offered tips.
In addition to authors and editors, poets appeared at the WoW through the Saturnalia Books Reading held May 26 from 11 to 12:20 p.m. in the Mandell Theater lobby. Two poets within the Saturnalia Books publishing company, Martha Silano and Dorothea Lasky, read from their award-winning collections.
Historical fiction, in addition to academic and pop culture history, was discussed during the “Making History” panel that went from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m. May 26 in the Mandell Theater lobby. Led by moderator Scott Knowles, assistant professor and director of Great Works Symposium and author of “Imagining Philadelphia: Edmund Bacon and the Future of the City,” the panelists were all authors specializing in historical fiction novels who talked about the challenges stemming from creating realistic dialogue and characters from various eras of history.
H.G. “Buzz” Bissinger, a Pulitzer Prize winner and author of the movie and television show-spawning non-fiction novel “Friday Night Lights,” was a panelist, as was Paula Marantz Cohen, a professor of English at Drexel who has published a mystery novel involving famous historical figures like Jack the Ripper. Other speakers included Jay Kirk, a teacher in the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania whose latest book is a historical narrative about the famed taxidermist and explorer Carl Akeley; and Nathaniel Popkin, who has written numerous historical novels about Philadelphia.
History and writing were also discussed during the Travel Writing symposium that was held from 3 to 5 p.m. May 26 in the Mandell Theater lobby, as two of the four panelists had published books detailing famous historical events like the Olympics (published by author and journalist Tony Perrotet) and a quest to find Jesus’ foreskin (published by author, journalist and New York University teacher of travel writing David Farley). Drexel’s own Jason Wilson, who has taught travel writing classes at the University and serves as editor of The Smart Set, was the moderator of the event, which also included “Pretty in Pink” star Andrew McCarthy, who has recently started writing travel writing pieces for publications like “Travel + Leisure” and “National Geographic.”
“The panel speakers provided a particularly interesting insight into the world of Travel Writing because there were multiple perspectives represented,” Nick Gomersall, a graduating senior majoring in mechanical engineering, said of the discussion.
Gomersall was one of Wilson’s students in the honors seminar about travel writing in the winter term.
He also liked the lively debate between the merits of the 21st century’s influence on travel writing, saying he specifically enjoyed “Andrew McCarthy’s views on the positive effects of ‘Travel Tweeting,’ which ran contrary to the rest of the panel, who emphasized that the more important skill set was being able to hold a reader’s attention for an entire 3000 word novel article.”
Gomersall, who accompanied Wilson and other students in Wilson’s travel writing course to New Orleans this past spring break, also attended the “Meet the Editors” function at the Landmark Americana that Wilson and the editors of the Painted Bride Quarterly held afterwards from 5:15 to 7 p.m. Editors of various Drexel publications, such as the Drexel Publishing Group Online magazine and ASK, the journal for the College of Arts and Sciences, attended the function.
A Sketch Comedy Writing activity featuring the members of local comedy troupe the WaitStaff was held from 11 a.m. to 12:20 p.m. May 27 in the Mandell Theater lobby. The members mostly spoke about their experiences performing and writing their own sketches.
A slam writing session took place May 27 from 12:30 to 1:50 p.m. in the Creese Center’s Behrakis Grand Hall, which later hosted the English Department Award Ceremony from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Among those honored were the winners of the 30th Annual Freshman Writing Awards, the Literature Essay Prize, the Week of Writing Awards and the Sigma Tau Delta Inductions. The awards were sponsored by the Erika Guenther and Gertrud Daemmrich Memorial Prizes, The Department of English and Philosophy and the College of Arts and Sciences.