Littsburgh! Literary Sense of Place in Pittsburgh
Abstr. due: 30.09.2017
Dates: 12.04.18 — 15.04.18
Organizing comittee e-mail: email@example.com
Organizers: Temple University
A panel to celebrate the many writers of my unique hometown, Pittsburgh. There are so many to choose from for this panel exploring a sense of place in the work of any Pittsburgh-affiliated writer. “This is the place of places, and it is here,” said Gertrude Stein, who was born in an Old Allegheny row house at 850 Beech Street, in what is now the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Poet Malcolm Cowley grew up in East Liberty (‘Sliberty), and Annie Dillard’s lyrical, funny An American Childhood takes place in Point Breeze. John Edgar Wideman grew up in Pittsburgh and wrote several significant books set in nearby Homewood-Brushton. August Wilson has made the Hill District indelible in his epic 10-play cycle. Willa Cather spent 10 years as a writer in Pittsburgh. Mark Harris, known for an earlier quartet of baseball novels including The Southpaw and Bang the Drum Slowly, spent some time teaching at the University of Pittsburgh (his son was in my high school English class at Taylor Allderdice). Allderdice is in Squirrel Hill, now the setting for a series of Young Adult novels called The Squirrel Hill High series by J.M. Varner. A short bus ride away, poet Samuel Hazo ran the International Poetry Forum in Oakland, which closed in 2009 after 43 years of bringing poets to the City of Three Rivers.
DescriptionA panel devoted to Pittsburgh-affiliated writers and how they have used this unique city to develop and convey a sense of place. Against a backdrop of three rivers, heavy industry, and a mosaic of individual ethnic communities, Gertrude Stein was born, Malcolm Cowley and Annie Dillard grew up, John Edgar Wideman and August Wilson wrote, and Willa Cather pursued a career in journalism. Possible topics include Pittsburgh and the working class writer; American regionalisms; neighborhood culture and neighborhood writers; blue collar voices; and this conference’s focus on the local landscape.