The significance of writing across the Drexel University curriculum will be exhibited during the annual Drexel Writing Festival, hosted by the Department of English and Philosophy May 21-23 at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery.
Sixteen events will showcase the universality of writing over the three-day period, according to Henry Israeli, the associate teaching professor who serves as director of the festival.
“It’s a time to both celebrate and acknowledge the importance of writing in the Drexel community,” Israeli said. “We’re not just promoting writing as an English Department thing; it’s something that is important to a lot of different programs.”
Israeli explained how the festival combines hands-on workshops with multimedia presentations — all in hopes of redefining how Drexel students view writing.
“We’re trying to create a broad idea of what writing can be, should be and could be across the curriculum,” he said.
The festival will welcome several prominent members of the writing community, including novelist Kate Moretti, a seasoned author on the New York Times bestseller list. Moretti will be reading from her latest book “The Blackbird Season” and discussing the complexities associated with publication. Following the reading, she will also hold a workshop on structuring captivating openings to mystery novels.
I.W. Gregorio, a well-known surgeon, writer and advocate of the intersex community, will also partake in the festival. In a session titled “Has Medicine Failed the Intersex Community (and Can Literature Save It)?,” Gregorio will examine the challenges associated with writing for social change, and how writers can create the world they want to see through their writing.
Local poet Yolanda Wisher will hold a workshop for participants to develop new material, following a performance of her work.
Several student organizations will join this collection of writers during the festival to exemplify other, nontraditional venues of writing.
Drexel’s Mad Dragon Music Group will host a songwriter’s slam. The Entrepreneurial Game Studio will demonstrate how writing contributes to the production of video games, in a session where students will get a chance to play the games for themselves.
In addition to interacting with these professional and student hosts, Israeli explained how attendees will have the opportunity to engage in more hands-on experiences as well.
“They’re going to learn something new, they’re going to experience something they’ve never experienced before, and if they’re doing a workshop, they’re going to walk away with some new and exciting material to work on,” he said, noting the wide variety of workshops that will be held throughout the festival.
Other workshops will encompass topics such as the power of effective communication, fiction and poetry writing, and writing for a blog or personal site.
While each event focuses on a different theme of writing, Israeli said they are all connected under a common motif: the notion of “play,” which relates back to the current exhibit at the gallery.
In fact, the final event, which will feature students from Drexel’s applied behavior analysis program, will explore how play-like strategies are used in teaching about diagnosis of autism.
This is the second year of the festival, which was formerly known as he Week of Writing. Though Israeli heads the festival, he said he received ample input from students to tailor events to what they wanted to see.
“It’s very important to me that this is a student-centered event,” he said. “I really try to follow the students’ leads.”
In the end, he hopes that students can appreciate writing more, while also realizing that Drexel already strongly values writing.
“The English department is proud to be showcasing Drexel’s dynamic writing community,” he said. “Writing is alive and well at Drexel and not just in the English Department.”
A full schedule of events can be found at http://drexel.edu/coas/academics/departments-centers/english-philosophy/events/drexel-writing-festival/.