Event Review: Gothic and Horror Fiction Open Mic Night

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Hannah Cantafio reads at the Gothic & Horror Open Mic Night.

by Taylor Spies, contributor to the Underground

The Gamma Psi Chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, the National honor society for students majoring in English, held a Gothic and Horror Fiction Open Mic Night on the third floor of Arts and Letters Hall on Monday, October 30th at 6pm. The event was small, but the intimate environment was perfect for ghost stories.

Chapter President Bintou Sy began by greeting those that had gathered and introducing Associate Professor and Director of the Undergraduate Program, Jennifer Conary. Conary gave an overview of the origins of the gothic novel and how we interpret the genre today. It was easy to tell that Conary was passionate about her topic, and her warm voice invited the audience to become intrigued by the gothic, stating, “Gothic novels offer physical manifestations of psychological horrors or fears.”

The first reader, Hannah Cantafio, read a short story from the novel Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk, published in 2005. “Dog Years” follows a rich and mysterious wheelchair-bound man. Her words came quick and clear, painting the picture the author created.

The next reader was Assistant Director of Graduate Programs, Janet L. Hickey. Hickey read from The Book of Irish Weirdness by Mairtin O’Griofa, published in 1997. The book showcases short stories by well-known authors. Hickey read “The Judge’s House” by Bram Stoker. This was quite a step back in time as the story was originally published in 1891. However, the story had gotten no less eerie with age, and, followed a student renting out a house rumored to be haunted.

Assistant Professor Bill Johnson González read the next piece, a chapter from The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, published in 1984, titled “Geraldo No Last Name.” This piece varied strikingly from the traditional Gothic. González expressed his attempt to find a piece of gothic writing by someone with a Latino or Hispanic background.

Associate Professor and Chair Michele Morano gave the final reading. She read excerpts from a short story by William Faulkner, published in 1930, titled “A Rose for Emily.” This story follows an eccentric lady whose behavior grows increasingly odd as she ages. She never marries, refuses to pay taxes, and dies in the same old house she was born in. It isn’t until after she has been buried that her house is investigated and the truth about her past comes out. The story’s shocking conclusion was the perfect ending to the night. The stories read drew the audience in. One became aware of Halloween’s approach, the dead leaves swirling outside, and the quickly growing darkness.

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Open Door Series: Kathleen Rooney, DePaul alum Andrea Rehani

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The Open Door series presents work from Chicago’s new and emerging poets and highlights the area’s outstanding writing programs. Each hour-long event features readings by two Chicagoland writing program instructors and two of their current or recent students. November’s Open Door Reading presents Chicago State University’s Kelly Norman Ellis and her student April Gibson along with DePaul University’s Kathleen Rooney and her student Andrea Rehani.

Tuesday, November 21st at 7:00 PM
The Poetry Foundation
61 W. Superior

Learn more!

Women’s Voices, Irish Writing: 300 Years Of Speaking Out

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Dr. Angela Bourke, author of The Burning of Bridget Cleary and Maeve Brennan: Homesick at the New Yorker, will examine the disruptive effects of Irish women’s voices from the 18th century to the present. Focusing on representative individuals across the period, Bourke will begin with oral lament poetry before turning to the modern era and figures such as Bridget Cleary, Molly Ivors in James Joyce’s “The Dead,” Irish-born Maeve Brennan of The New Yorker, and contemporary Irish poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill.

Wednesday, November 8, 4:30-5:30 PM
Richardson Library, Room 300

Bourke has published creative and non-fiction work in both English and the Irish language. She teaches at UCD and has been a visiting professor at a number of American universities. Bourke was a co-editor of volumes 4 and 5 of the Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing and is a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Event Review: Planet of Microbes with Ted Anton

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by Albora Memushi, contributor to the Underground

Ted Anton’s latest book release, Planet of Microbes: the Perils and Potential of Earth’s Essential Life Forms, was hosted in the Arts & Letters building at six in the evening, on Thursday, Oct 26. The lecture hall was filled with students and faculty.  Rebecca Johns-Trissler presented Anton in a brief bio. Anton’s previous publications include The Longevity Seekers (University of Chicago Press, 2013), and Bold Science: Seven Scientists Who Are Changing Our World  (W.H. Freeman, 2000, Paperback: 2001). His book Eros, Magic and the Murder of Professor Culianu (Northwestern University Press: 1996) won the Carl Sandburg Award and was a finalist for a Book Award from the Investigative Reporters and Editors.

Music was heard from backstage as Anton walked in playing the trumpet. The audience applauded frantically. Dressed in a blue t-shirt and blue khakis, Anton smiled as he played. He thanked the students and his colleagues for helping him shape the book. Anton had prepared a PowerPoint, and he took the audience through an hour-long presentation about his research.

He spoke about the ways our lives might depend on microbes. “The same chemicals that can kill us can also save us. Most of our antibiotics come from microbes,” said Anton.

“How many microbes are on earth?” he asked the crowd. Someone shouted, “Can you give us multiple choices?” As some guessed the answer, Anton said, “There are actually 10 to the 30th power, which is more than the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy; if you line them up they would extend from earth to the sun and back two hundred trillion times.”

Anton ended his presentation by reading a snippet of his book. The passage spoke about the NASA conference in Chicago and Anton’s thoughts as an observer, writer, and a scientist as he faced the greatness of life among the fellow L commuters in the downtown district.

Anton completed his presentation by playing the flute and taking questions from the audience.

Upcoming presentations of the book will be hosted at Columbia University, University of Chicago, and others.

Chasing Wilder in Chicago: Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day

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The Wilder Family and The Newberry Library present “Chasing Wilder in Chicago: Thornton Wilder’s The Eighth Day” on

Wednesday, November 15 at 5 PM
Ruggles Hall at the Newberry Library
60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL 60610

This 50th anniversary celebration of Wilder’s National Book Award-winning, Chicago-based novel will feature a conversation with Thornton Wilder’s nephew and literary executor Tappan Wilder, Jeremy McCarter and Liesl Olson; readings from the novel by professional Chicago-area actors; and cake!  The event starts at 5pm with a reception and it’s all free and open to the public. Reservations are recommended.

Learn more!