Category Archives: Conferences

Presenting at Boundless: American Lit & Superhero Comics

English graduate student Clark Fennimore presented at the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences Conference: Boundless. Read more about his experiences below! 

Clark Fennimore at Boundless

In Mid-October, Millersville University hosted the Boundless Conference in cooperation with the other universities of the PA State System of Higher Education. It specifically involved the Humanities departments. Many panels included presentations by students from these universities, including our own. I was placed on one of the first panels to present. I presented with two other students on topics related to popular culture.

I spoke for about twenty minutes. My own presentation was about American literature from the 1920s and 30s that influenced the later development of superhero comics. Because it was based on research I did for a much more extensive paper in a class I took, I had to narrow down the topic. The paper itself had sections about characters as influences and about genre characteristics developed in the era. I limited my presentation to the characters. Most famous among the characters were Zorro and Tarzan.

This was a rewarding experience in public speaking. I consider it as a short introduction to the format of lecturing. I enjoyed it and hope to have much more experience of this type. I believe that conducting and presenting research are important skills worth practicing, particularly since I am in graduate school, studying English. I consider them important for people in any kind of graduate program. They increase professional credibility.

Something else worth mentioning about the conference is that I listened to many presentations on different topics. This shows great academic diversity within the humanities. There were topics from literature and history among other areas. A major theme of the conference was the interest of humanities in many areas of life. I am honored to have presented in a conference advocating unity within such an area of academics.

-Clark Fennimore

Millersville University Literary Festival

Dr. Sarah D’Stair

On Thursday, November 7 and Friday, November 8, Millersville University will host its annual Literary Festival. This year’s theme is “Writing in Community.”

The event will start on Thursday in McComsey’s Ford Atrium at 4 pm. Students, faculty, staff, and alumni are welcome to attend and read at an open reading following featured faculty member Sarah D’Stair.

Meghan Kenny

At 7:30pm, Meghan Kenny will give her keynote address in Myers Auditorium. Meghan Kenny is the author of the short story collection Love Is No Small Thing (LSU Press, 2017) and the novel The Driest Season (W.W. Norton, 2018), which was an honorable mention for the 2019 PEN/HEMINGWAY Award. She lives in Lancaster.

On Friday the 8th, the Literary Festival will continue in the McNairy Library from 9am to 4pm. Individual sessions will take place in Room 100 where you can learn how to:

  • Write fiction and short stories
  • Write thrillers and suspense novels
  • Write free verse and traditional poetry
  • Find work in writing-related fields
  • Find what publishers want and get your work published
  • Write creative non-fiction and memoirs
  • Approach literature for translation

If you have any questions, contact Dr. Archibald or Dr. Jakubiak. Visit the Literary Festival website for the full event schedule and more information.



Upcoming Literary Events

Check out these upcoming literary events in the Lancaster area! 

Millersville Literary Festival – McNairy Library Reading Room

Thursday, November 7: 4pm Readings/Reception, 7:30pm Keynote

Friday, November 8: 9am Panel Presentations, 12pm Lunch, 3-5pm Readings

More Information Coming Soon

Fulton Theater

Wait Until Dark: Tuesday, October 8, 8pm (pay what you want)

  • A mysterious doll mistakenly smuggled into the country possesses secrets that puts a young couple in serious danger, especially the blind homemaker. This cult classic will have you on the edge of your seat, minute after pulsating minute. Left home alone and to her own devices, Susan is forced to defend herself against con men, who are after the doll and its goods. A clever cat-and-mouse game of deception becomes more dangerous when the doll disappears! The game takes a drastic turn when the lights go out!

Everyman Theater in Baltimore

August Wilson’s Radio Golf: Sunday in Late October TBD

  • Successful real estate developer Harmond Wilks is on a mission to become Pittsburgh’s first black mayor by doing whatever it takes to transform his childhood neighborhood from blighted to bustling. But when he learns the truth about his family’s legacy, he is forced to decide whether he will finish what he started or fight to preserve his community’s history. This fast-paced, crackling conclusion to August Wilson’s unparalleled 10-play The American Century Cycle examining the African-American experience in the 20th century is “surprising, suspenseful and crowd-pleasing” (The New York Times), and draws striking parallels to the issues we still face today.


Midtown Scholar Bookstore

Almost Uptown Poetry Cartel: Every Thursday 7-9pm

  • The Cartel is a weekly reading series founded in 1999, has featured many talented writers, poets, and artists as well as an exciting and growing list of guest readers and headliners. All are welcome–bring your own poetry, poetry you love, or just an open ear.




An Evening with John Leland: Saturday, September 21, 6-8pm

  • This September, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome bestselling author John Leland to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, Happiness Is a Choice You Make: Lessons from a Year Among the Oldest Old. This event is free and open to the public.




Harrisburg Book Festival: Thursday, October 3, 7pm – Sunday, October 6, 7pm

  • Now in its seventh year, the Harrisburg Book Festival is proudly hosted by the Midtown Scholar Bookstore. Featuring an annual tent sale, award-winning authors, children’s illustrators, emerging novelists, acclaimed historians — surrounded by hundreds of thousands of books at one of the nation’s most celebrated independent bookstores — the Harrisburg Book Festival aims to amplify and celebrate diverse literature for all ages. All events are free and open to the public.

Nathaniel Gadsen’s Spoken Word Cafe: Every Other Friday, 7-9pm

  • Join Nathaniel Gadsden’s Spoken Word Café for a time of poetry and storytelling. This event is free and open to the public.

LGBT Book Club: Every Third Sunday of the Month, 4:30-5:30pm

  • Join the LGBT Book Club every third Sunday of the month for a discussion on this month’s book!

Eleanor Gordon-Smith: Wednesday, October 23, 7-9pm

  • This October, the Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome author Eleanor Gordon-Smith to Harrisburg as she presents her new book, Stop Being Reasonable: How We Really Change Our Minds. This event is free and open to the public.




An Evening with John Witherow: Thursday, October 24, 7-9pm

  • The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome local author John Witherow to Harrisburg as he presents his new novel, The Gap: Fort Indiantown. This event is free and open to the public. The Gap is a coming-of-age story that poses questions about the wisdom of the current drug war while employing themes from another lost war.




An Evening with Stephen Fried: Wednesday, November 6, 7-9pm

  • The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome bestselling author Stephen Fried to Harrisburg as he discusses his new book, Rush: Revolution, Madness, and Benjamin Rush, the Visionary Doctor Who Became a Founding Father. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.



Henry Hemming: Saturday, November 9, 5-7pm

  • The Midtown Scholar Bookstore is pleased to welcome bestselling espionage author Henry Hemming to Harrisburg as he presents his new book, Agents of Influence: A British Campaign, a Canadian Spy, and the Secret Plot to Bring America into World War II. This event is free and open to the public. Book signing to follow discussion.




Philadelphia Alumni Writer’s House @ F&M

Faculty Writers: Eve Bratman: Tuesday, September 24, 4:30-5:30pm

  • Eve Bratman is Assistant Professor in the Department of Earth and Environment. She is a political ecologist who has a PhD in international relations from American University. Her book, Governing the Rainforest, is based on ten years of research concerning development policies, infrastructure, conservation, and human rights in the Brazilian Amazon. This event is free and open to the public.



Hausman Lecture Craft Talk: Alice McDermott: Tuesday, October 1, 4:30-5:30pm

  • Alice McDermott’s eighth novel, The Ninth Hour, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in September 2017. She has received the Whiting Writers Award, the Carington Award for Literary Excellence, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for American Literature. Established through an endowment by Richard Hausman ’50, P’85 and Edna Hausman P’85, the Hausman Lecture has brought prominent writers to campus for lectures, readings and workshops since 1982.



Will to Read: Shakespeare Aloud: Thursday, October 3, 7-9pm (Monthly)

  • Do you enjoy Shakespeare? If so, join this monthly reading/viewing/discussion group on Thursday evenings 7-9pm at the Writers House. We will simply read selected scenes, watch recorded stage and screen performances of those scenes, and talk about it all. No preparation, experience, or expertise required–only enthusiasm! The second play is Henry IV. This event is free and open to the public.

A Reading with Jamie Beth Cohen: Tuesday, October 15, 7:30-8:30pm

  • Jamie Beth Cohen is a writer who works in higher education. She writes about difficult things, but her friends think she’s funny. Her non-fiction has appeared in, The Washington Post/On Parenting, Salon, and several other outlets. Her debut novel, Wasted Pretty, was published in April 2019.




Playwriting in a Plotless World: Thursday, November 21, 11:30-12:30pm

  • Paula Vogel is Franklin & Marshall College’s tenth annual Lapine Family Visiting Theatre Artist. She has written How I Learned to Drive (Pulitzer Prize, New York Drama Critics Award, Obie Award, Lucille Lortel, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and many more) and many more plays.




The Ware Center

The Interpreters – On Screen/In Person: Thursday, September 26, 7pm

  • Local interpreters were key to recent US war efforts, but now many face danger in their countries because of their affiliation.  This is the moving story of how they are rebuilding their lives, told through an Iraqi who was able to make it to the US with the help of an American soldier he befriended, an Afghan who is still working as an interpreter in Kabul despite threats to his life, and another who fled with his family as refugees to Turkey.  Run Time: 75 minutes. The evening begins in Steinman Hall with a pre-showing activity or community panel at 6:15 PM, and a post-show Q+A with the film’s director.

We the People: Celebrating Rita: Friday, October 4, 7pm
  • An onstage celebration of the life and legacy of Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El featuring the best of Lancaster’s African-American performing arts community including such artists as the Imani-Edutainers, Maria and Kiana Corley, CoCo Coleman, Gerri MrGritty, Tyrell, and others, all performing brief tributes to Rita in the respective genres – dance, vocal and instrumental music, spoken-word, and more! Free and open to the public.
  • Badger Creek is a portrait of Native-American resilience as seen through a year in the life of three generations of a Blackfeet family living on the reservation in Montana.The Thick Dark Fog is the story of Walter Littlemoon who attended a federal Indian boarding school in South Dakota sixty years ago. The mission of many of these schools in 1950, was still to “kill the Indian and save the man.” The children were not allowed to speak their language or express their cultural identity in any way. Total Run Time: 84 minutes. The evening begins in Steinman Hall with a pre-showing activity or community panel at 6:15 PM, and a post-show Q+A with the film’s director.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: November 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 9 at 8:00pm | November 3, 10 at 2:00pm
  • Gods mix with mortals, a feuding king and queen unleash magical practical jokes on one another, spells yield improbable love affairs and a band of comical wanderers enter into an enchanted woods and are transformed in the most unlikely ways in an adaptation of Shakespeare’s most popular and enduring comedy. Discounted MU Student tickets available at a ticket office location with a valid ID; limit 2 per ID. Early reservations are strongly encouraged because Rafters Theatre has limited seating.
  • DETROIT 48202 examines the rise, demise, and contested resurgence of Detroit through the lens of an utterly charming African-American mail carrier, Wendell Watkins, and the community of committed residents he faithfully served for thirty years. We take a journey with Wendell along his route, winding through the center of what was, once upon a time, a vital and thriving city. Run Time: 80 minutes. The evening begins in Steinman Hall with a pre-showing activity or community panel at 6:15 PM, and a post-show Q+A with the film’s director.

Creative Works of Lancaster

The 24 Hour Plays: Saturday, October 5, 7pm

  • Six writers, six directors, twenty-five actors, and one production team will write, rehearse, and perform six short plays in a 24 hour period. The process begins Friday evening, October 4, with writers choosing actors from a pool of talent. The six writers work through the night and hand their work to directors early Saturday morning, October 5, the day of the performance. After negotiating for their choice of play, directors, along with their play’s actors and a crew of stage technicians, prepare for the 7 pm performance. All tickets are free to reserve, and there is no obligation, or suggested minimum, to pay. Tickets can be reserved through Eventbrite.

The Turning Wheel

Poetry Readings: Every Second Thursday, 7-8:30pm

  • Each month The Turning Wheel welcomes a featured writer from around the region to share their work with our community. After the featured reading, there will be our usual, all-genre open mic. Bring your poems and short prose pieces to share!



Zoetropolis (specific movie times on website, student tickets $8)

The Nightingale: Friday, September 20 and Saturday, September 21

  • Set in 1825, Clare, a young Irish convict woman, chases a British officer through the rugged Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of an Aboriginal tracker named Billy, who is also marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past.




Manhattan Short Film Festival: September 27 – October 6

  • Manhattan Short is not a touring festival; rather, it is an instantaneous celebration that occurs simultaneously across the globe, bringing great films to great venues and allowing the audiences to select their favorites. If the Film Festival experience truly is about getting great works in front of as many eyes as possible, Manhattan Short offers the ultimate platform — one that sees its films screened in Sydney, Mumbai, Moscow, Kathmandu, Vienna, Cape Town to cinemas in all fifty states of the United States and beyond.



Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Sunday,October 6, 7pm

  • 50th Anniversary Event! Monty Python and the Holy Grail loosely follows the legend of King Arthur. Arthur along with his squire, Patsy, recruits his Knights of the Round Table, including Sir Bedevere the Wise, Sir Lancelot the Brave, Sir Robin the Not-Quite-So-Brave-As-Sir-Lancelot and Sir Galahad the Pure. On the way Arthur battles the Black Knight who, despite having had all his limbs chopped off, insists he can still fight. They reach Camelot, but Arthur decides not to enter, as “it is a silly place”.



ACLU-PA Presents, Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook: Monday, October 7, 7:30pm

  • Narrated by Jeffrey Wright, and shot during the chaotic 2016 election, the film identifies and unpacks a shrewd ten-part strategy to suppress the vote, from creating new barriers to voter registration, to purging American citizens from the voting rolls without notice, to new and deliberate impediments to casting a vote. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Alex Domingos, Organizer, Campaign for Smart Justice. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so an RSVP is requested. Email your name and quantity of tickets needed to:


GLAS Presents: Animation Next: Friday, October 11 – Sunday, October 13

  • The best-of-the-best from the groundbreaking annual GLAS Animation Festival in Berkeley, CA. Showcasing seven bold new shorts from the newest generation to redefine what’s possible in the medium, ANIMATION NEXT takes you on a prismatic journey ranging from subterranean nightmares to sun-soaked coming of age stories — each exploring themes that most grip the modern world.  For more info, visit



Winterbeast: Thursday, October 24, 7:30pm

  • Join us for the 3rd film in the So Bad! So Good! Series. Presented and Introduced by Bradley Lyndon. The finest, and possibly only movie ever made in Newbury, New Hampshire, it’s a head-scratching tour-de-force of incoherent plot twists, continuity errors, bizarre non-sequitors, cheap effects and clunky performances. It’s even got props borrowed from a Dokken music video! It’s a bizarre train wreck of a movie that somehow transcends its own ineptitude to become an endlessly entertaining anti-masterpiece.


ACLU-PA Presents: Reversing Roe: Monday, November 4, 7:30pm

  • Forty-five years after it revolutionized abortion law in America, the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade is once again at a crossroads. In their timely new documentary, filmmakers Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg present a deeply illuminating look of the state of abortion and women’s rights in America. The film offers candid and riveting interviews with key figures from both sides of the divide. Intense and unflinching in its commitment to telling the whole story, the film provides a gripping look at what’s happening on the ground in 2018. The screening will be followed by a discussion with Marianne Stein, ACLU-PA Legislative Associate. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited so an RSVP is requested. Email your name and quantity of tickets needed to:

Arrival: Thursday, November 21, 6:30pm

  • Taking place after alien crafts land around the world, an expert linguist is recruited by the military to determine whether they come in peace or are a threat. Film introduced by Dennis Weiss and followed by conversation and cocktails.


6th Annual Learning Institute Global Well-Being and Social Change Presentations

On April 28th, 29th and 30th Social Work hosted the 6th Annual Learning Institute Global Well-Being and Social Change Conference. On Friday April 29th, MA English graduate student William Artz presented “Perceived Intrinsic Iniquities in LGBTQIA+ Health Care: An affordance theory (literary) approach”. His discussion connected affordance theory and literature to a broader practical audience, demonstrating how literature makes possible better conversations surrounding social justice, race, and politics in America.

Additionally, Dr. Nicole Pfannenstiel and Professor Michele Santamaria presented “Finding Space, Making Change: Shifting to a campus community read.” Their discussion connected the One Book selection to cross-disciplinary adoption, and the value of life-long reading to support learning and college success.

You are Inspiring: Over 100 English Students present at Made in Millersville

Folks, this is a banner year for English at Made in Millersville.  We have over 96 separate events (poetry readings, panel sessions, poster sessions, etc.) that Millersville English students are engaged in.  What can I say–you all are rocking scholarship, creativity, and professionalism.

Check out Skyler Gibbon in the student spotlight analyzing Beyonce, Adele, and intersectional feminism!  Congratulate Daniel Dicker, Karen layman, Sara Lipski, and Shaakirah Tate on their publication of the Made in Millersville Journal next week. If you are thinking about studying abroad, go hear about the amazing journeys of Abigail Breckbill, Thomas Joyce, and Jason Leighty.  Or take in Poetry Out Loud with Dr. Corkery and his creative crew.  And check out all of the impressive posters and panels.  It will be a super busy day.

While the English faculty is always super proud of our students, we take it to the next level when we see all of your accomplishments together on one day.  It’s just so fabulous!  We hope you will come out and support each other and let your curiosity roam free!

You can find all the English events listed here: MiM English Events 2019

We’ll have a film crew on site that day to capture some of your accomplishments.  We’re making a video for the website.  Eric Griffin, an MU Art alum who took film classes, is doing the video, so if you see him and his crew, give them a little of you for the video.  He won’t be able to capture everything, but I’ve encouraged him to try to get as much as possible so we can represent our community well.

Thanks for all the positive energy, great scholarship, and creative ideas that you all put out into the world.  You are inspiring.

2019 Northeast Modern Language Association Conference

Millersville Professors and graduate students traveled to Washington D.C. for the annual Northeast Modern Language Association Conference. Maria Rovito, in collaboration with the other Millersville students and professors, wrote a summary of the event and presentation topics.

Andie Petrillo, Dr. Emily Baldys, and Maria Rovito

The 50th anniversary conference of the Northeast Modern Language Association was held at the National Harbor in Washington, D.C., at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, from Thursday, March 21, 2019, to Sunday, March 24, 2019. The theme of the conference focused on transnational humanities, particularly intersections of nations and identity within language and literature. A variety of panels, roundtables, and workshops were held that focused on various kinds of aspects of English studies, particularly literature, rhetoric and composition, creative writing and publishing, critical theory, interdisciplinary humanities, and pedagogy and teaching. Several keynote speakers were included in this year’s conference; most notably featured was the postcolonial critic Homi K. Bhabha, who spoke about the politics of migration and human rights in his keynote address.

Members and presenters came from all over the world, including a few of our own students and faculty here at Millersville University. Graduate students and English faculty presented their research at the convention, including Drs. Emily Baldys and Katarzyna Jakubiak, as well as graduate students Maria Rovito and Andie Petrillo. Each of their presentations focused on different aspects of literary studies.

Dr. Emily Baldy’s presentation was titled “The Sisterhood of Disability Care in Gaskell’s Industrial Narratives,” and focused on disability care as surrogate sisterhood in Gaskell’s first published short story, “The Three Eras of Libbie Marsh.” In her work, Dr. Baldys argued that “Gaskell’s narratives self-consciously resist industrial capitalism’s devaluation of difference and dependence.” Particularly, through Gaskell’s depictions of sisterly relations and disability care, “Gaskell’s texts mount a ‘dependency critique’ similar to that proposed by modern disability theorists, modeling a respect for difference that Gaskell saw as necessary for rehabilitation of industrial system.”

Dr. Katarzyna Jakubiak presented on the politics of translation in her presentation, particularly translating African American Literature in Poland during the Cold War. Titled “We Make Our Own Negroes: James Baldwin’s Reception in Poland During the Cold War and Now,” Dr. Jakubiak’s work focused on the role of James Baldwin’s work in Poland in the 1960-70s in relation to current Polish reactions to Raoul Peck’s documentary I Am Not Your Negro.  She argued that the “past and present Polish responses to Baldwin attest to the power of his voice to impact the discourse of interracial and interethnic relations globally.” Dr. Jakubiak’s presentation also focused on the impact of Baldwin’s work on Polish political discourse: “As Poland’s current populist government manipulates the public fear of ethnic or racial ‘other’ to garner support, Baldwin’s work has again provided a platform for intellectuals and cultural activists aiming to undermine the government’s xenophobic discourse.”

Maria Rovito presented twice during the conference, in a roundtable on African American literature and trauma studies as well as on a panel on ability and identity. Her first presentation, titled “Race and Disability in Morrison’s The Bluest Eye and Wilson’s Fences,” focused on the intersections of race and disability within African American literature. Particularly, her presentation researched how race, disability, and trauma impacts disabled characters within The Bluest Eye and Fences. Her second presentation, “‘I Did This to Myself’: Disability and Non-Normative Bodies in the Manga and Anime Series One Piece,” researched representations of disabled bodies within manga and animé. Her research particularly focused on Eiichiro Oda’s series One Piece, and how disabled characters within the series disrupt Western notions and expectations of disabled bodies.

Andie Petrillo presented a poster titled, “Packing a Punch: Satirizing the ‘New Woman’ In Victorian England.” She researched visual representations of the New Woman of Victorian England, and how these images stereotyped early feminists within the later Victorian period. These representations “show a shifting attitude towards a woman’s place in the later Victorian era and are figureheads for first-wave feminism.”

This year’s conference showcased the research and skill of Millersville students and faculty, and presented an opportunity for students and faculty to learn new ideas about literature, provided networking and mentoring opportunities, and gave students and faculty an opportunity to have fun with English studies. Next year’s conference will be held in Boston, MA.

-Maria Rovito

Re-Imagining Merlin

Professor Leah Hamilton will present a paper on Authorial adaptations at Wayne State University in March. Read about her work below! 

Several years ago I was confused by some very strange questions from students about the Arthurian tradition. The students eventually confessed that those questions were inspired by a television show I had never heard of: the BBC’s Merlin. Anyone who teaches literature contends with the many popular book, film, and television adaptations that influence in-class discussions, and it is helpful to know what students are influenced by and watching. So, that very week I set out to watch the first episodes in order to better “unteach” the show’s (apparently) strange presentations of the characters and tales. Instead, the students won me over; years later, I find myself championing the show as a significant adaptation of the Arthurian tradition as I develop a presentation paper about Merlin for Wayne State University’s conference “Telling & Retelling Stories: (Re)imagining Popular Culture,” and write a chapter for editor Susan Austin’s upcoming book, Arthurian Legend in the 20th & 21st Centuries.

Merlin includes many obvious adaptations to the Medieval stories (including casting Merlin, Arthur, and Lancelot as young adults simultaneously), but to me the most striking change is an emphatic erasure of Christianity from the stories. The omission of Christianity complicates the retelling of quite a few tales, perhaps most notably those involving the Holy Grail, and this was particularly intriguing as I waited for the young Lancelot and Guinevere’s flirtation to develop into their famously treasonous relationship.  How would the writers of the BBC show redeem these characters and preserve their exemplary status without Christianity?

As I analyze the changes to plot and characterization of the characters, I am examining at the same time the circumstances under which modern audiences are willing (or unwilling!) to forgive heroes for missteps, and how the writers of the BBC’s hit show navigate this issue again and again through the five seasons (series) of Merlin. This is particularly relevant as modern audiences are increasingly vocal and public in their responses to the failures of political leaders, celebrities, and other cultural exemplars. Analysis of popular texts about some of the most beloved heroes of all time and the way in which writers are successful in persuading audiences to forgive their flaws (and at times their grievous missteps) may give some insight not only into the Arthurian tradition, but also into current attitudes regarding remorse, atonement, and redemption.

Leah Hamilton

Dyslexia Conference Provides Resources for Region

Demystifying Dyslexia Organizer Dr. Jill Craven, Speaker Sara Page Stinchcomb, and Keynote Speaker Dr. Marilyn Bartlett
Demystifying Dyslexia Organizer Dr. Jill Craven, Inspirational Speaker Sara Page Stinchcomb, and Keynote Speaker Dr. Marilyn Bartlett

On Saturday, January 26th, Millersville University hosted a conference about dyslexia and strategies for making students with dyslexia successful.

Dr. Stacey Irwin introduces "Raising Faith"
Dr. Stacey Irwin introduces “Raising Faith”

The morning’s main sessions included a description of dyslexia and its subtypes by Dr. Peg Kay, an inspirational speech by advocate Sara Page Stinchcomb, and the premiere of a film about dyslexia by Dr. Stacey Irwin, Raising Faith.

Reviewing the types of dyslexia, Dr. Kay emphasized that recognizing dyslexia early can dramatically reduce the challenges people with dyslexia face. The window to address the issues runs up until 3rd grade. Several attendees recounted that local school districts tend to tell parents that students may “grow out of it” and that parents should wait until 3rd grade to request accommodations; this strategy hurts students.  Ms. Sara Page Stinchcomb then gave an inspirational speech about the need to change attitudes about dyslexia; she received a standing ovation from the audience.  To finish the morning sessions, Dr. Irwin’s film explored many different perspectives on dyslexia from students with dyslexia and their families. Families were particularly struck by hearing stories similar to their own.  Audience members then asked questions of the experts in attendance.

Dr. Marily Bartlett explains her struggle to get accommodations on the Bar exam
Dr. Marily Bartlett explains her struggle to get accommodations on the Bar exam

The morning sessions were followed by a rousing keynote address by Marilyn Bartlett of her decade-long struggle to receive accommodations for the NY Bar.  The keynote address was attended by 95 students, community members, and faculty members, many of whom resonated with the struggles to attain equity in educational endeavors either as people with dyslexia or as advocates for people with educational challenges.

The day continued with 15 different breakout sessions to help families, teachers, administrators, and people with dyslexia. The sessions were well attended by teachers, students, parents, administrators, advocates, and friends.

Dr. Janet Josephson explains how dyslexia presents.
Dr. Janet Josephson explains how dyslexia presents.

Dr. Janet Josephson held an extremely popular session on how dyslexia presents.  The crowded Stayer multipurpose room attested to the regional interest in understanding dyslexia.  Dr. Pamela Kastner, the statewide lead for Literacy (PaTTAN), provided two informative sessions on phonics, which were particularly popular with teachers.

Scotia mugs for the camera while Dr. Bartlett explains the need for "a bible" to fight for one's rights
Scotia mugs for the camera while Dr. Bartlett explains the need for “a bible” to fight for one’s rights

The breakout sessions  provided important and useful information for people with dyslexia, their families, and teachers.  For example, Dr. Bartlett recommended books like Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy.  Sessions on the differences between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA were particularly appreciated by Millersville Education students, regional professionals, and parents.

Dr. Bartlett explains the differences between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA
Dr. Bartlett explains the differences between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA







Some regional resources for students with dyslexia were also discussed in the sessions.  These included the Children’s Dyslexia Center, the Delaware Valley Friends School (DVFS), and psychologists like Dr. Margaret Kay.  Parents, in particular, were grateful to have a game plan for addressing their children’s needs.

Helen Mannion and Kathy Halligan explaining the brain structure underlying dyslexia
Helen Mannion and Kathy Halligan of DVFS explain the brain structure underlying dyslexia

Overall, attendees were excited to talk about an issue that is particularly important to them, and were grateful for both the information and the resources presented.

Recordings of eight sessions are available on YouTube, including:

Helping with Homework Session
Helping with Homework Session
Understanding the difference between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA
Understanding the difference between the IDEA, Section 504, and the ADA-AA

Demystifying Dyslexia Day January 26th at Millersville

On Saturday, January 26, Millersville University will share speakers on dyslexia with our community.  Depending on the definition used for dyslexia (which occurs at different levels), between 5-10% of the population is affected by this language-based learning disability. The day will feature different perspectives and discussions to further personal and professional knowledge about this disorder.

The event will commence in the morning at the Winter Center (60 West Cottage Ave) on Millersville campus, and move to Stayer Building for breakout sessions in the afternoon.  Admission is free and open to the public, excluding the lunch session with Marilyn Bartlett, which is $12.


Registration is required. A small fee ($5 per credit) will be charged for those desiring CEU or Act 48 credits.


  • 8:00 Coffee and Registration
  • 9:00 Welcome (Dr. Jill Craven)
  • 9:15 Dyslexia, Its Subtypes, and Testing (Dr. Margaret Kay)
  • 10:15 Break
  • 10:30 Dyslexia: A Strength, Not a Weakness (Ms. Sara Page Stinchcomb)
  • 10:45 Raising Faith (a film on dyslexia by Dr. Stacey Irwin)

LUNCH and KEYNOTE ($12, GORDINIER HALL–Free for MU Students with ID)

  • 12:00 Lunch: Gordinier Hall, Lehr room
  • 12:30 Telling Her Story: The Marilyn Bartlett Case (Dr. Marilyn Bartlett)
Marilyn J Bartlett, J.D., Ph.D._Apr12

Dr. Marilyn Bartlett, J.D., Ph.D. , former Dean and Professor at Texas A&M University, is a person who is dyslexic. She requested accommodations on the NY Bar Exam and was denied.  Dr. Bartlett argued in court that she should receive accommodations on the test based on her learning disability and slow reading speed due to dyslexia. After a ten year battle, she won the case for herself and all of those persons who are protected by the ADA-AA and need accommodations for their disabilities when studying in post-secondary institutions and taking professional exams. Her case is still good law in the Second Circuit


2:00 Breakout Session I (Stayer Hall)

  1.   Getting help in college (Audience: 1, 4)
    Julianne Browne
  2.    Helping with Homework (Audience: 1, 2)
    Kevin Ghaffari, Abby Rissinger, Sara Page Stinchcomb
  3.   “What is the difference among IDEA, the ADA-AA2008 and Sec 504” (Audience: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
    Dr. Marilyn J Bartlett
  4.   “How Dyslexia Presents” (Simulation Session) (Audience: 1, 2, 3, 6)
    Dr. Janet Josephson
  5.  “The International Dyslexia Association’s  (IDA) Knowledge and Practice Standards for teacher of reading”—(Audience: 3,5)
    Dr. Pamela M. Kastner

2:45 Breakout Session II (Stayer Hall)

  1. How to be a better self-advocate. (Audience: 1, 2, 4, 6)
    Kevin Ghaffari, Abby Rissinger, and Sara Page Stinchcomb
  2.  “The process of being tested”  (Audience: 1, 2, 4, 6)
    Dr. Margaret Kay
  3. “Transitioning:  Middle School to High School to College to Graduate School” (Audience: 1, 2, 4, 6)
    Dr. Marilyn J Bartlett
  4.  “Beyond Blending and Segmenting: Advanced Phonemic Awareness”
    (Audience: 6)
    Dr. Pamela M. Kastner
  5. “Psychological basis of Dyslexia and Co-morbid Conditions” (Audience: 2, 3, 4, 6)
    Kathy Halligan and Helen Mannion

3:30   Breakout Session III  (Stayer Hall)

  1.   “How to be Successful as a Student with Dyslexia” (Audience: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
    Kevin Ghaffari, Abigail Rissinger, Sara Page Stinchcomb
  2.    Offerings of the Childrens Dyslexia Center in Lancaster (Audience: 6)
    Heather Hinkel, Director of the Children’s Dyslexia Center
  3.  “Making a Game Plan for Raising a Child with Dyslexia” (Audience:  2)
    Dr. Marilyn Bartlett
  4.  “Beyond Blending and Segmenting: Advanced Phonemic Awareness”  PART 2
    (Audience: 6)
    Dr. Pamela M. Kastner
  5.   “Multi-Sensory Reading Programs” (Audience: 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)
    Kathy Halligan and Helen Mannion
Demystifying Dyslexia Poster

4:20-5pm Stayer Refreshments

Audience Key:

  1. Students
  2. Parents
  3. Teachers and Future Teachers
  4. Counselors
  5. Administrators, Advocates and Attorneys
  6. Everyone


Dr. Marilyn Bartlett, J.D., Ed. D.
Dr. Bartlett is a Retired Dean and Professor of Educational Administration, Law and Policy at Texas A&M University.  Currently Dr. Bartlett is an Advocate for students and parents who are requesting services from schools K-16.  As the plaintiff in Bartlett v New York Board of Law Examiners (2001), Dr. Bartlett won rights to accommodations under the ADA for dyslexics.

Ms. Julianne Browne, Learning Services, Millersville University
Retired English teacher, Cecil County Public Schools
Current Department Secretary, Office of Learning Services, Millersville University

 Dr. Jill Craven, Ph.D.
Chair, Department of English, Professor of Film Studies, Millersville University

Mr. Kevin Ghaffari, MPS
Special Education Teacher, Millersville University Education Foundations Part-time Faculty Member

Ms. Kathy Halligan
Language Arts Teacher, Delaware Valley Friends School.  Kathy trained at Teacher’s College with Judith Birsh in the Orton Gillingham Program. She is also trained in The Wilson Reading System, Just Words, Fundations, and the Read Naturally Fluency Program. 

Ms. Heather Hinkel
Center Director, Children’s Dyslexia Center of Lancaster

Dr. Stacey Irwin, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication and Theatre, Millersville University

Dr. Janet Josephson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Early, Middle, and Exceptional Education, Millersville University

Dr. Pamela M. Kastner, Ed. D.
Literacy Statewide Lead, Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network [PaTTAN]

Dr. Margaret Kay, Ed.D. NCSP, FABPS
Licensed Psychologist, Nationally Certified School Psychologist, Fellow, American Board of Psychological Specialties with Forensic Specialization in Educational & School Psychology. Dr. Kay has been in private practice since 1980 and is often relied upon by parents and schools to perform Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE’s) for school-age children and college students. Dr. Kay has a doctorate in Educational & School Psychology with a specialization in child neuropsychology and has testified as an expert in a number of Dyslexia cases. The title of her doctoral dissertation was: Cognitive Predictors of the Dyslexia Syndrome and she is a lifetime member of the International Dyslexia Association.

Ms. Helen Mannion, M. Ed., CALT,
Director of Teacher Training, and Director of Language and Literacy Remediation, Delaware Valley Friends School

Ms. Abigail Rissinger
Millersville University Student, Dyslexic Student Advocate

Ms. Sara Page Stinchcomb
Lancaster Country Day Student, Dyslexic Student Advocate


These events were generously supported by Millersville’s Center for Public Scholarship and Social Change, the Dean of the School of Art, Humanities and Social Sciences,  the Dean of the School of Education, the Department of English, and the Office of the Provost.


Resources will be presented by

Literary Festival

The Literary Festival in November 2nd was a great success! If you didn’t have a chance to attend, the theme was “The Writing Life” and there were myriad presentations spanning fiction, poetry, nonfiction, publishing, and everything in between. The guest writers and presenters showcased writing as a means of self-exploration and engagement with the world around us.

The winner of the Flash Fiction Contest was Nichole DiGirolamo, a sophomore Psychology major with a minor in Art — congratulations!

Nichole DiGirolamo

Nichole’s piece, “My Mother’s Closet,” is about childhood memories, specifically memories about the items and colors inside her mother’s closet. Nichole explains, “How I miss being a child and seeing the colors and fabrics and not having a care in the world about anything going on. I wrote the piece because of all of the wonderful memories I had in that closet trying on my mothers shoes that are always way too big. Wearing her jackets that fell to the floor and always seeing the artwork she has kept from all those years. She reacts and treats each one like a million dollar piece of art even though it was terrible.”

An excerpt from her story:

A drawing made by a girl of a house on the hill. It was made with oil pastels, greens, blues, yellows fill the page. The house small but full of windows and doors so there’s a never ending amount of light to enter the home. A bush outside the shape of a cat with a tail longer than a mile it had what looked to be roses growing on it. There’s a walk way with bright pineapple colored stepping stones and in between each stone was smaller lemon colored stones. The sides of the house rough made out of bricks and cement. In the front yard a family, I tall tan man with a mustache the size of the titanic, eyes greener than limes and scribbles on his arms to mimic tattoos. A woman short with blonde hair above her ears with beautiful greenish blue eyes and a girl with long brown hair and straight across bangs giant eyes like pools of chocolate.

This is Nichole’s favorite part of the piece because of the sentimental value: “The picture is me and my family and all the colors and the details used to describe the picture was exactly how it Is described. I drew the photo when I was about 6-7 and remember every moment of making it.” To write the piece of fiction, Nichole describes that she “sat in my mom’s closet and just took a look around at the height level I would be when I was younger. I closed my eyes and touched things and smelled things to get a better sense of my surroundings and to give better detail. I looked at things that had the most meaning, like the shoes and the money. The money showed the trips we took as a family and showed how many memories we had on those trips.”

Here are some photos from the festival on November 2nd:

Panel Discussion – “The Writing Life” From left to right: Barb Strasko, Mitchell Sommers, Matt Kabik, Alex Brubaker, Phil Benoit
Poet Michele Santamaria
Event Organizers: Jeff Boyer and William Archibald

Poet Le Hinton (on left) with Matt Kabik

Former Lancaster Poet Laureate Barb Strasko
Books for sale at the event

Thanks to:

  • Festival Chair William Archibald and Assistant Chair Jeff Boyer for their work organizing the event
  • Curtis Smith, Le Hinton, Jenny Hill, Michele Santamaria, Mitchell Sommers, Barb Strasko, Alex Brubaker, Megan Phillips, Phillip Benoit, Jamie Beth Cohen, Jen Hirt, Laura English, Timothy Mayers, Katarzyna Jakubiak, and Michael Deibert for agreeing to present
  • Graduate Assistant Andie Petrillo for creating the WordPress site and assisting with general planning
  • Rachel Hicks for creating advertising