Vampires and werewolves will be among the many topics explored at University of Richmond’s 2015-16 Tucker-Boatwright Festival of Literature and the Arts, beginning Feb. 23.

This year’s festival will focus on the relationship between the “popular” and the “literary,” showcasing a growing number of renowned novelists and short-story writers who adapt their popular genres to create new kinds of literary fiction. Speakers will discuss the pleasures of reading, cultural history of popular forms and why readers gravitate toward stories that may include zombies, superheroes or apocalyptic disaster.

“Before the 21st century, it was not difficult to find critics who thought of genre fiction as formulaic pulp, but that perception has steadily changed, influenced by scholars who have explored the formal and narrative strategies by which writers of genre fiction make their art unique,” said David Stevens, associate professor of English and event organizer. “Today, it’s virtually impossible to discuss the state of what’s considered traditional literature without considering stories and novels that have evolved from popular traditions, including science-fiction, fantasy, horror, thriller, detective, romance, graphic fiction, and so forth.”

“This evolution is highlighted by our festival guests, whose work has received acclaim from critics across the intellectual spectrum, academic and non-academic alike,” Stevens added.

All events are free, open to the public and include a question and answer session with the speakers. Events taking place Feb. 23 through April 20 include:

Feb. 23: Benjamin Percy, reading, 7 p.m., Carole Weinstein International Center, International Commons

Benjamin Percy has written three novels, most recently “The Dead Lands,” a post-apocalyptic reimagining of the Lewis and Clark saga. His works have been read on National Public Radio and published in GQ, Time, The Wall Street Journal, and Esquire, where he is a contributing editor. Percy has received various honors, including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Whiting Writers’ Award, two Pushcart Prizes and the Plimpton Prize.

March 2: Kelly Link, lecture, 7 p.m., Weinstein Hall, Brown-Alley Room

Kelly Link’s debut book, “Stranger Things Happen,” was selected as a Salon Book of the Year and her second, “Magic for Beginners,” was chosen for best of the year lists by TIME, Salon, The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Capital Times. She also wrote four short story collections and has been called “the most darkly playful voice in American fiction.” Her lecture is titled, “A Vampire is a Flexible Metaphor.”

March 24: Walter Mosley, lecture, 7 p.m., Tyler Haynes Commons, Alice Haynes Room

Walter Mosley is The New York Times bestselling author of thirty-eight books in a wide range of genres from science fiction to political essay. He is a recipient of PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award and his short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Los Angeles Times and more. His work has also been adapted into two major films, “Devil in a Blue Dress” and “Always Outnumbered.”

April 5: Glen Duncan, reading, 7 p.m., Keller Hall, Reception Room

British-born Glen Duncan traveled through India with his father before continuing to the U.S. to write “Hope,” his critically acclaimed first novel. His novel “I, Lucifer” was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and the Times Literary Supplement named him as one of Britain’s “twenty best young novelists.”

April 12: Emily St. John Mandel, reading, 7 p.m., Weinstein Hall, Brown-Alley Room

Emily St. John Mandel has written four novels, including “Station Eleven,” which won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award and was a finalist for both a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections and she is a staff writer for the television show, “The Millions.”  

April 19: China Miéville, lecture, 4:30 p.m., Keller Hall, Reception Room

April 20: China Miéville, reading, 7 p.m., Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium

China Miéville earned an undergraduate degree in social anthropology from University of Cambridge and both a master’s degree in international relations and doctorate from the London School of Economics. His writing blends fantasy and science fiction with horror, and his book, “The City & The City,” won the 2010 Hugo Award for best novel. Three of his books also won the Arthur C. Clarke award for best science fiction novel.

This year’s Tucker-Boatwright Festival is hosted by the Department of English. For more information, visit the University of Richmond School of Arts and Sciences website.

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Associate Professor of English
Chair, Department of English
Creative Writing
American Literature (19th Century to the present)
The Short Story
The Western
Canadian Literature