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UNT Insider | June 2009 Issue | Fifth annual Mayborn Conference

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Fifth annual Mayborn Conference to feature NPR host Ira Glass and other prominent storytellers, July 24-26

From a UNT News Service press release

Ira Glass

Ira Glass

Photo by Nancy Updike

The way stories are told has evolved throughout history. The earliest people told stories with cave painting and oral traditions passed from generation to generation, whereas today storytelling is beginning to rely more on technology and multimedia.

The 2009 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, hosted by the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism at UNT, will feature an eclectic group of talented storytellers who have been able to adapt to the ever-changing challenge of storytelling. The conference will feature speakers from genres unexplored in previous years including travel writing, broadcast, nature writing and documentary film.

"The world of literary nonfiction is changing," says George Getschow, conference writer-in-residence. "This year's conference features a diverse group of storytellers all of whom come out of a journalism background. Taken together, our presenters offer a lesson for all of us: that in this new age of journalism, writers have to be able to stretch themselves, to tell stories in a variety of genres."

The diversity of speakers is apparent in the keynote speakers. Travel writer Paul Theroux will speak from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. on July 24. National Public Radio host Ira Glass will speak from 8 to 8:50 p.m. on July 25. Alma Guillermoprieto, Latin American correspondent for The New Yorker will speak from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. on July 26. All three keynote addresses will be followed by a question-and-answer session.

Where: Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine


  • Friday night: Conference participants will enjoy an intimate dinner with the conference speakers on Friday night at Southwest Soiree at Austin Ranch. Friday night's lecture with Paul Theroux at the Hilton is open to the public. Individual tickets to Friday night's lecture are $60.
  • Saturday night: Saturday night's keynote address by Ira Glass is open to the public and includes dinner. Individual tickets to Saturday's lecture and dinner are $100, but seats are limited. Table sponsorships are available for the Saturday event. A table of 10 is available for $1,500.
  • Sunday will feature Latin American correspondent Alma Guillermoprieto and is open to conference participants.
  • Tickets for both events will be available online only.

Cost: The cost attend the conference is $295 for the general public. Student fees are $225. Educator fees are $270. Conference seating is limited. Additional fees may apply.

Paul Theroux

Paul Theroux

Photo by William Furniss

Registration: To register, visit http://www.themayborn.unt.edu/MaybornConference2009.htm. For more information, call 940-565-4564.

Contact: Jo Ann Ballantine, conference manager, at 940-565-4778 for more information.

Glass is the host and producer of the public radio program "This American Life," which is heard on more than 500 public radio stations each week by more than 1.7 million listeners. "The American Journalism Review" declared that the award-winning show is "at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution." Glass also has a passion for nonfiction writing, as evidenced by "The New Kings of Nonfiction," a collection of narratives that Glass compiled as examples of the best new masters of nonfiction storytelling.

Getschow describes Theroux as "one of America's literary lions," having produced more than 47 books of travel writing, short-story collections, novels, criticism and children's literature.

Guillermoprieto has covered Latin America for more than 20 years. She has served as Latin American correspondent for both The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books.

Additionally, the conference will feature the nation's foremost humor writer, Roy Blount Jr.; Stephanie Elizondo Griest, who Getschow calls the "accidental memoirist" of Mexican-American society; Vogue's renowned narrative essay writer, Julia Reed; the nation's leading authority on Abraham Lincoln's assassination, Michael Kauffman; Gordon Grice, who Getschow calls "the Stephen King of nature writers"; Wall Street Journal foreign correspondent and hunger expert, Roger Thurow; internationally acclaimed documentary filmmakers Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell; and a number of other storytellers.

Bob Shacochis, a National Book Award Winner (Swimming in the Volcano) and last year's Friday night keynote speaker, calls the Mayborn Conference "the most compelling, remarkable writers' conference I've attended in more than 20 years of writers' conferences around the nation.

"And now, thanks and ever thanks to the Mayborn tribe of storytellers, I think of Dallas as a preferred destination, a center of literary gravity, perhaps the very heart of the universe these days for nonfiction writers in America," Shacochis says.

As in past years, the conference also will include a manuscript and article/essay writing contest. The manuscript winner has the option to enter into a provisional publishing contract with UNT Press, and the 10 best articles or essays will appear in a popular literary journal published by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism. The best articles and essays will also compete for cash prizes.

Media interviews: Contact Dr. Mitch Land, director of the Mayborn Graduate School of Journalism, at 940-565-4564 or mitch.land@unt.edu or George Getschow, conference writer-in-residence, at 940-369-8631 or george.getschow@unt.edu.

Alyssa Aber with UNT News Service can be reached at Alyssa.aber@unt.edu.

Read other stories in this issue:

June 2009

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