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The Marianne D. McComb Conference on Creative Writing

Resilience and Joy

The Miami University Creative Writing Program is hosting the 2023 Marianne D. McComb Conference on Resilience and Joy on April 14-15th at the Marcum Center. Award-winning authors will present and conduct generative writing workshops. Writers from across the university (and beyond!) are invited to participate.

The 2023 McComb conference is a two-day conference, open to all, with the theme this year of resilience and joy. How do we write joy and resilience? How can we find resilience and joy in writing? Is joy necessarily tethered to sorrow?

The conference features generative writing sessions on graphic novels, nonfiction, poetry, and fiction by renowned authors Ross Gay, Lydia Conklin, and Yalie Kamara. These authors will also give talks and participate in panels.

The conference will be held at the Marcum Center, kicked off by keynote speaker Ross Gay, author of The Book of Delights and Inciting Joy, followed by a reception on Friday, April 14th. Saturday offers generative writing sessions led by our three guest writers, fiction writer and graphic memoirist Lydia Conklin, who wrote Rainbow Rainbow, and Cincinnati’s poet laureate Yalie Kamara, author of A Brief Biography of My Name and the anthology What You Need to Know About Me. There will also be a plenary panel by our guests on resilience and joy, as well as a scholarly panel and a creative writing reading by Miami students.

Due to enormous interest in this conference, we've extended the deadline until March 25th for the 2023 Marianne D. McComb Conference! All events, including the keynote, are free and open to the public. Register soon so we can plan the seating, food & swag:



Marcum Conference Center, Miami University, Oxford OH 

Friday, April 14th 


  • Keynote talk by Ross Gay, followed by a reception

Saturday, April 15th 


  • Morning Session w/ Ross Gay


  • Plenary Panel: “The Art of Resilience and Cultivating Joy: Three Perspectives” with Yalie Kamara, Ross Gay, and Lydia Conklin

Buffet Lunch


  • Afternoon Session I w/ Yalie Kamara & Student Panels


Afternoon Session II w/ Lydia Conklin & Student Panels

Closing Remarks to follow

Our Previous Conferences

2019: Marianne D. McComb Biennial Conference on Creative Writing

Writer in Residence: David Kajganich

Kajganich is the screenwriter, most recently, of Suspiria (2018) and A Bigger Splash (2015), both directed by Luca Guadagnino. He is also the creator, showrunner, and co-Executive Producer, with Ridley Scott, of AMC’s The Terror, the story of a doomed 1845 British expedition to the Northwest Arctic Passage which Collider called “easily one of the most downright scary shows to hit TV in years” and Vox dubbed “a near masterpiece of survival horror.” Kajganich holds a BA in English: Creative Writing from Miami University and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as an Iowa Arts Fellow, where he earned the MFA in Fiction. A native of Lorain, Ohio, he now lives in Los Angeles, California.

About the course

The course comprises four 3-hour sessions over the first two weeks of March 1-11, MF 4-7pm, with further opportunities for students to meet with Mr. Kajganich in outside screenings and office hours.

David Kajganich, screenwriter

The course will consider such big-picture issues as thematic intention, character creation, and structural forms while exploring the complex relationship between aesthetics and ethics in storytelling. It will also give students the opportunity to work with one of Hollywood’s most in-demand screenwriters.

The seminar will be a fun and immersive experience combining film screenings, high-impact writing exercises, and discussion of critical readings. Importantly, it will also give students access to how frequent problems of representation and responsibility are addressed in practical terms.

Public screening of A Bigger Splash

The course will culminate in a public screening of the 2015 film A Bigger Splash followed by a talk and Q&A with the writer. The screening and talk, which are free and open to the public, will be held on Tuesday, March 12th at 6pm in the Leonard Theater, Peabody Hall. (Please note that the film is rated R.)

This sprint may be taken for free for no credit or may be taken for one credit so that it appears on the transcript. Seating is limited, with priority given to Creative Writing majors.

The course is sponsored by the Marianne D. McComb family fund with additional support from Individualized Studies (Western Program).

2018: Marianne D. McComb Biennial Conference on Creative Writing

NERD LIT is the theme of the second Marianne D. McComb Biennial Conference on Creative Writing, to be held on March 2-3, 2018

The conference will focus on those influential imaginative genres that are so dynamic, they come with their own exclamation points—Science Fiction! Fantasy! Horror! Superheroes! Cosplay! Fanfic! The two-day conference will offer students a variety of participatory workshops, presentations, and panels on pop literatures and pop culture, headlined by prolific and acclaimed writer BEN PERCY, author of the novels THE DARK NET and RED MOON and writer of DC Comics’ TEEN TITANS and GREEN ARROW. The conference is open to Miami students and (by application) to undergraduates and high school students from elsewhere.

Conference Schedule

  • Keynote–March 2nd, 6PM: Ben Percy will offer the keynote presentation, “Thrill Me.”
  • Plenary Panel–March 3rd: “ Nerd Lit: Creativity, Community, and Culture” will explore the craft and cultural reach of these fantastic genres with Ben Percy, Tiffany Knoell (Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University), Aiesha Little (cosplayer and co-founder of the Midwest Black Speculative Fiction Alliance), and Geoffrey Girard (author of the speculative dark fiction novels Mary Rose and Truthers). A gallery will display works by our visitors and other artists.

Attendee Info

All conference events are open to the public and free of charge! Delivering a paper or presentation is NOT required. Attendees from Miami and elsewhere are encouraged to:

  • Take part in workshops on comics, speculative fiction, genre filmmaking, fanfic, and cosplay;
  • Go to seminars on nerd genres, subgenres, and fandoms;
  • Attend talks by famous pop lit & pop culture artists and scholars;
  • Request a one-on-one consultation on your creative writing with a Miami MFA graduate student (use the application form below).

Submit a Paper/Presentation Proposal

We're interested in papers or presentations on a variety of subjects across nerd lit genres, particularly as these intersect with creative writing, creative performance, and/or the creative process. Topic examples include:

  • The literary merits, techniques, or influence of popular titles or series such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.
  • Storytelling techniques in serialized or episodic television shows such as Doctor Who, Westworld, Star Trek: Discovery, Game of Thrones, etc.
  • The connections between role-playing games such as D&D and creative writing;
  • An examination of current nerd cultures, communities, and controversies;
  • Cosplay as creative performance;
  • The rise and impact of the superhero film;
  • The blurring line between “literary” and “genre” divisions;
  • Any nerd-lit topic exploring the narrative or cultural value of a work from any medium (TV, books, film, video games, animation) that you’re passionate about and feel others might learn from.