Making Literature Conference to Kick Off Thursday

By Dan Bowman Published: Feb 27, 2013

Bret Lott

The Department of English at Taylor University will host its biennial Making Literature Conference Thursday, Feb 28 – Saturday, March 1, 2013. This year’s conference will feature novelist Bret Lott, scholar Hal Bush, and poet Susanna Childress, along with presentations by magazine and book editors, and students from Taylor and eleven other colleges and universities.

Bret Lott is the bestselling author of over a dozen books. Oprah Winfrey selected his novel Jewel for her book club. Other honors include serving as Fulbright Senior American Scholar to Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel; having spoken on Flannery O’Connor at The White House; and serving on the National Council on the Arts. Bret studied under James Baldwin in the University of Massachusetts. He teaches at the College of Charleston. The English Department is honored to have Bret on campus. He will speak in chapel in Friday, give a conference keynote address Friday night, and read fiction on Saturday.

Hal Bush is the current President of the Conference on Christianity and Literature, and a prominent scholar of faith. Author of books on Abraham Lincoln and Mark Twain, he is a regular contributor to Books and Culture, The Christian Century, The Cresset, and other publications. Hal teaches at St. Louis University. He will deliver a conference keynote address on Thursday evening.

Susanna Childress’s first poetry collection Jagged with Love won the Brittingham Prize, selected by Billy Collins. Her work has appeared in magazines and journals around the country, including The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Missouri Review, and many others. Her most recent book is Entering the House of Awe (2011). Susanna teaches at Hope College. She will give a poetry reading on Friday afternoon.

Saturday’s program features a panel of editors from Relief Journal, The Cresset, WordFarm Press, and Victorian Studies. The editors will talk about what they look for in manuscripts, the state of publishing today, the intersection of art and faith, and other topics. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask questions.

For a full schedule of events, please visit the English Department’s blog and click the Making Literature Conference tab.

The conference is dedicated to the memory of Dr. William A. Fry, who served as English department chair at Taylor University for 20 years, from 1978 until his retirement in 1998. 

Trained first as a minister at Nyack College, Bill received a second bachelor’s degree in history from Wheaton College before returning to Nyack as a professor of English. While teaching at Nyack, he earned his masters and doctorate at Columbia University. At Taylor, Bill was a popular and engaging professor, visibly delighted with the subjects he taught, particularly Shakespeare and poetry.

In his tenth year of retirement in Florida, Bill was diagnosed with cancer; a year later, he moved into God’s presence, leaving behind his wife of 56 years, Lura, and their four daughters.  The Taylor University English department dedicates this conference in honor of Bill, in gratitude for his diplomatic leadership, joyful sense of humor, and his always evident love of God.