Bios of Presenters, Actors, and Moderators for MailerConf16

Neil Abercrombie: “Norman Mailer made the opening statement of his post-World War II contemporaries on technology in his “war” book The Naked and The Dead.” Thus began my Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Hawaii in 1970 and my friendship with Norman Mailer who, incredibly, received a note from me that I wanted to write on him and Lewis Mumford. He not only contacted me but urged me on. I was elected to the Hawaii State Legislature a month before my doctoral defense in 1974. I went on to the U.S. House of Representatives where I served for 20 years before becoming Governor of the State of Hawaii, from 2010 – 2014. Over those 37 years Norman was a constant source of encouragement and support. He was and remains at the center of my political consciousness.

Bowen Alpern, recovering computer scientist, academic, and software engineer, having once mined the caves of madness (self-pity and marijuana as boon companions), embarks now, in the cold gray dawn of his senescence, upon a half-desperate, half-whimsical quest to remake himself as a dilettante scholar or, better still, a writer.

Peter Alson is the author of the highly acclaimed memoirs Confessions of an Ivy League Bookie and Take Me to the River; and coauthor of One of a Kind, a biography of poker champion Stuey Ungar, and Atlas, the autobiography of boxing trainer Teddy Atlas. His articles have appeared in many magazines, including Esquire, Playboy and The New York Times. He is a freelance book editor at nybookdoctor.com. He has a blog at peteralson.com. He has written screenplays for Paramount and various independent producers, and his TV pilot, Nicky’s Game, starring John Ventimiglia and Burt Young, appeared in the New York Television Festival and the Vail Film Festival.

Robert Begiebing is Professor of English Emeritus at Southern NH University and the author of nine books, including literary criticism, fiction, memoir, and journalism.  He was the founding director of the MFA in fiction and nonfiction at SNHU.   His books on Mailer are Acts of Regeneration (1981) and Toward a New Synthesis (1989).

Gregory Bellow: Saul Bellow’s firstborn, I was raised by Augie March, the irreverent young man who questioned everything. My first years were of constant motion. By six, I required a stability Saul found so suffocating as to flee. A decade later I was off to the University of Chicago where I studied psychology and social work. I became a psychotherapist, my mother’s profession but with a twist. An emphasis on the inner life Saul cultivated made strengthening my patients’ selfhood primary. At 62 I retired, wrote a memoir titled Saul Bellow’s Heart, and have been involved in occasional pubic discussions of his work.

Mashey Bernstein is a retired Professor of American Literature from the University of California, Santa Barbara from where he received his Ph.D. for his dissertation on Jewish values in the Fiction of Norman Mailer.  He has written on various aspects of Mailer’s work for The Mailer Review, Studies in American Jewish Literature, The London Jewish Chronicle and San Francisco Review of Books. He maintained close ties with Mailer from their initial meeting in 1975 until his passing. 

Stanley S. Blair is Interim Dean of the Honors School and Associate Professor of English at Monmouth University. His current research and teaching interests include American Literature, 1850-1975, focusing on New Jersey literature. His most recent graduate seminar surveyed the literature of Long Branch, New Jersey, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

Justin Bozung is a freelance film writer, researcher, and part-time archivist.  He has collaborated on two books about Stanley Kubrick and at present is editing a volume about the films of Michael Bay.  Bozung hosts the Norman Mailer Society Podcast on ProjectMailer.net.  His book, Norman Mailer: Film is Like Death (A Cinema Reader) will be published by Bloomsbury in the spring of 2017.

Jackson R. Bryer is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Maryland, College Park.  He has served as a board member of the Hemingway Foundation/Society and is president of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Society, and the Thornton Wilder Society. He is co-founder and co-editor of the annual journals Resources for American Literary Study and The F. Scott Fitzgerald Review. He has published more than forty books on American literature, including Selected Letters of Thornton Wilder (2008), Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda:  The Love Letters of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald (2002), and French Connections:  Hemingway and Fitzgerald Abroad (1998).

 Christopher Busa is founding editor of Provincetown Arts Press. He grew up exposed to the art world as the son of a painter who participated in the formative years of Abstract Expressionism. Spending part of every year in Provincetown since infancy, he slowly absorbed its mythology as a place where artists and writers meet to work and live. His interviews and profiles of artists and writers have appeared in Arts, Garden Design, Paris Review, Partisan Review, Mailer Review, and other journals. He is a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA) and on the board of the Norman Mailer Society.

Ezra Cappell is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Inter-American Jewish Studies Program at the University of Texas at El Paso. Cappell teaches and publishes in 20th Century and Contemporary Jewish American Literature and he is a recipient of the University of Texas Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award.  He is the author of the book, American Talmud: The Cultural Work of Jewish American Fiction.  Cappell is a coordinator for JAHLIT (The Society for the Study of Jewish American and Holocaust Literature), and he serves as Editor of the SUNY Press Book Series in Contemporary Jewish Literature and Culture.

Raj Chandarlapaty has published two books, The Beat Generation and Counterculture with Peter Lang, and Re-Creating Paul Bowles, the Other and the Imagination with Lexington Books. He has published articles on Norman Mailer, James Baldwin, Mohammed Mrabet and Allen Ginsberg.  He is currently Assistant Professor of English at the American University of Afghanistan.

Bonnie Culver is the director of the Wilkes University M.A. /M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Her play Sniper’s NYC Off-Broadway production was a “pick of the Week” by the STAR-Ledger, TIMEOUT Magazine, and NY theatre.com, and was included in the Burdick National Play series at Florida Studio Theatres that “showcases the best in contemporary theatre.” Two of her screenplays were finalists in the Sundance Film Development program; one script optioned by Marlee Matlin. In 2015, she was reelected Chair of the Board of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP).  She is at work on a one-woman show Norris

James Decker is Professor of English, Humanities, and Language Studies at Illinois Central College. In addition to editing Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal, he has published Henry Miller and Narrative FormHenry Miller: New Perspectives, and Ideology.

Nicole DePolo is an Assistant Professor of English at Fisher College and a Ph.D. Candidate at Boston University’s Editorial Institute where she is developing a critical companion to Ancient Evenings that includes an annotated edition of “The Book of the Gods.”

Okla Elliott is an Assistant Professor at Misericordia University. He holds a PhD in comparative literature from the University of Illinois and an MFA in creative writing from Ohio State University. His work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, Harvard Review, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Ohio Review, Prairie Schooner, A Public Space, and Subtropics, as well as being included as a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2015. His books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a novel), and Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (nonfiction, forthcoming).

Salvatore J. Fallica was born in Brooklyn, New York. He earned his doctorate from the Media Ecology Program at New York University, where he teaches in the Department of Media, Culture and Communication. His latest publication is “Bob Dylan and Spectacle Culture: Yesterday and Today,” which appeared in Baby Boomers and Popular Culture. His masters’ thesis was entitled The Search for the Authentic Rebel in the Work of Norman Mailer. He is the recipient of the “Excellence in Teaching” award from the Steinhardt School of Education and the “Distinguished Teaching” award from the Steinhardt Students Association.

Ron Fried is the author of two novels and non-fiction book. He was a 2010 Fellow at the Norman Mailer Society. His play, “Two Mailers,” has received readings in New York and Los Angeles.

Randall Gabrielan turned his avocation of local history into a second career after long service as an insurance broker. He has written dozens of historical books, numerous articles and research reports on individual properties. Gabrielan, a resident of Middletown, served over 13 years as executive director of the Monmouth County Historical Commission in Freehold and is now Commission vice-chair. He also serves as the County’s appointed historian. Gabrielan, a library advocate, served Middletown 25 years on the Board of Trustees. Long Branch, subject of two books, is an abiding interest where he is an ardent advocate of historical reinterpretation.

Alex Gilvarry is the author of From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, winner of the Hornblower Award for First Fiction, Best New Voice 2012 by Bookspan, and selected by the New York Times as an Editor’s Choice. He’s a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 nominee and has received fellowships from the Harry Ransom Center and the Norman Mailer Center. His second novel, Eastman Was Here, is forthcoming from Viking in 2017. He is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Monmouth University where he teaches fiction.

Susan Goulding is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Monmouth University. Her research interests focus on women’s writing in 18th-century Britain, and she has published on Aphra Behn and Mary Robinson, as well as on the 20th-century writer Isak Dinesen.

Jacob Hebda is a graduate student in the English M.A. program at the State University of New York at New Paltz. He earned his B.A. from Misericordia University, and has previously presented at the Southwest Popular/American Culture Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the Elizabeth Madox Roberts Conference in Springfield, Kentucky, in addition to presenting at the 2014 Norman Mailer Conference in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.  His research interests include, but are not limited to: the relationship between high and low culture, literary movements ranging from romanticism to contemporary literature, and interdisciplinary approaches to literature and culture studies.

Alexander Hicks is Professor of Sociology and Adjunct Professor of Political Science and Film and Media Studies at Emory University.  He is author or co-editor of books including Social Democracy and Welfare Capitalism, as well as of numerous papers in leading social science journals and was inaugural co-editor of the Socioeconomic Review. Although professionally a social scientist, he exchanged several dozen letters with Norman Mailer during the quarter century preceding Mailer’s death.  Since 2009 he has published a handful of pieces in the Mailer Review.

Matthew S. Hinton was born in the back seat of his great grandmother’s Posten Taxi in Wilkes-Barre, PA. He is the Coordinator of Writing at Misericordia University (Dallas, PA), where he teaches writing and literature (including the work of Norman Mailer). He regularly performs with the Mailer Reader’s Theatre Troupe, produces new dramatic works, and has authored several plays, including Quiet Cowboy, Talk the Night, and Out Out. His collection of detective poetry, entitled Instant Deaths and Stutter Guns, is forthcoming. He dreams in analog.

Kaylie Jones’ latest novel is The Anger Meridian (2015). She has published one memoir, Lies My Mother Never Told Me (2009). Her novels include A Soldier’s Daughter Never Cries, made into a Merchant Ivory Film in 1998; Celeste Ascending (2001); and Speak Now (2004). She is the editor of the anthology Long Island Noir (2012). Kaylie has written for Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Paris Review, Washington Post and Salon. She teaches in the MFA writing programs of at SUNY Stony Brook and Wilkes University. She co-chairs the yearly $10,000 James Jones First Novel Fellowship. Her latest endeavor is her imprint, Kaylie Jones Books.

Daniel Kramer is a photographer and filmmaker whose portraits and picture stories have been published worldwide; his film work encompasses documentaries and commercials. But it is his photographs of Bob Dylan, the first major work published about the young artist on his way from superstar to icon during 1964 and 1965, which catapulted Kramer’s work onto the international stage. A master printer, Kramer’s photographs are widely collected and exhibited. Brooklyn born, he lives in New York City.

K.C. Leiber: National Tours: Glinda understudy in The Wizard of Oz (NETworks, 1st National). New York: Mary in It’s A Wonderful Life and Bet in Oliver! (Harbor Lights), Under the Greenwood Tree (The Flea), the Wizard of Oz (Madison Square Garden), Mae in The Wild Party (Gallery Players), Catherine in A View from the Bridge (June Havoc). Regional: A Christmas Carol (McCarter), The Who’s Tommy (Media Theatre), Frenchy in Grease and Alice in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Forestburgh). Training: Syracuse University, BFA.

Tim Lemire is the author of several books: a career guide for English majors; a survey of American freaks; a guide to the sexes, co-authored with a Playboy Playmate; a compendium of quotes about alcohol and spirits; and several others. He is a graduate of the MFA program in creative writing (fiction) at the University of Michigan, a frequent contributor to the Medium website for Project Mailer, and he is currently working on a writing project about NM. He is also a visual artist and is based in Providence, RI, at lemire.tim@gmail.com

J. Michael Lennon: His biography, Norman Mailer: A Double Life, a New York Times “Editor’s Choice,” was published in 2013, followed by his edition, Selected Letters of Norman Mailer in 2014. He edited Mailer’s The Fight, to be published by Taschen in 2016. His work has appeared in Paris Review, TLS, NYRB, Playboy, Hippocampus, New Yorker, Creative Nonfiction, and Provincetown Arts. He teaches in the Wilkes University MFA program, and serves on the Board of the Norman Mailer Society, and the Executive Board of the Norman Mailer Center. His current project is co-editing Mailer’s marijuana journal with Susan Mailer.

Joseph Lennon is Associate Dean and Director of Irish Studies and at Villanova University. His book, Irish Orientalism: A Literary and Intellectual History (Syracuse UP) won the Donald Murphy Prize from the American Conference for Irish Studies.  He has written for journals such as New Hibernia Review, Women’s Studies, The European Legacy, and TLS, and in books on British, Irish, and Indian literature and culture.  Salmon Poetry published his Fell Hunger in 2011, and he has published in The Denver Quarterly, Natural Bridge, Midwest Quarterly, and Poetry Ireland. 

Walter Lewallen teaches composition and literature courses at UNC Pembroke and lives in Red Springs, NC. 

Bill Lowenburg is a three-time scholarship recipient from the Norman Mailer Writing Center. He is the author of a novel, The Zorki Chronicles and a photography monograph, Crash Burn Love. Bill’s photographs and articles have been published in BBC Top Gear, London Telegraph, Popular Photography, PBS Point of View, and numerous others. He was also a research assistant to Michael Lennon for Norman Mailer: A Double Life. Bill received his boxing education serving as a sparring partner with Larry Holmes’ original trainer, Earnee Butler. Bill has an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University and works as a high school librarian.

Gerald R. Lucas (@drgrlucas) is a Professor of English and a Norman Mailer Fellow. He teaches humanities and new media studies at Middle Georgia State University. His research interests lie at the intersection of new media and literary studies, including elearning and Digital Humanities. Jerry created and curates Project Mailer, works as the Senior Media Editor of The Mailer Review, and may be found on various social media.

John Buffalo Mailer is an award-winning screenwriter, actor, journalist, and producer. Highlights: He discovered and developed Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony award-winning musical In The Heights, wrote the feature film Hello Herman starring Norman Reedus, covered the state of New Orleans through the eyes of the strippers for Playboy (Music, Food, and Death), acted opposite Shia LaBoeuf in Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, and opposite Paul Giamatti in Matthew Barney’s epic River Of Fundament. Upcoming films include Blind (starring Alec Baldwin and Demi Moore), and a feature film adaptation of his play Crazy Eyes retitled The Jingoist.

Michael Mailer has been producing independent films for over two decades. His productions have been presented at some of the world’s best-known film festivals and released by companies including Sony, Universal, Fox, Lionsgate, and IFC. Through his dozens of films, Mailer has worked with actors such as Sandra Bullock, Robert Downey Jr, Alec Baldwin, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Bruce Dern, Adrien Grenier, Kyra Sedgwick, Neve Campbell, Burt Reynolds, and many more. Mailer’s films include Two Girls and a Guy, Black and White, Empire, The Ledge, Seduced and Abandoned, and his directorial debut, Blind.

Susan Mailer is a psychoanalyst.  Most of the year she lives in Chile where she has a private practice and teaches.  She is a member of the NMS Board and has participated in several of their conferences.  At the moment she is co-editing with Mike Lennon a book on Norman Mailer’s unpublished works and finishing a memoir about her father.

Maggie McKinley is Associate Professor of English at Harper College, where she teaches courses in composition and American literature. She is the author of Masculinity and the Paradox of Violence in American Fiction, 1950-75 (Bloomsbury, 2015), and her work has also been published in Studies in American Jewish Literature, Philip Roth Studies, and The Mailer Review, as well as in the edited collections Roth and Celebrity (Lexington, 2012), and Critical Insights: Philip Roth (Salem, 2013). Her book Understanding Norman Mailer is forthcoming from University of South Carolina Press in 2017.

Jason Mosser is a Professor of English at Georgia Gwinnett College. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at West Virginia University and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia. He has taught at a variety of institutions including Georgia Tech, Rockford College, and the Atlanta College of Art. He has published a book on New Journalism and delivered numerous conference presentations and published several articles on the work of Norman Mailer.  

Erik Nakjavani is Professor Emeritus of Humanities at the University of Pittsburgh.  He is a founding member of The Hemingway Society, and specializes in Hemingway studies.  His life-long interests and publications have been in interdisciplinary relationships among literary theory, psychoanalysis, and philosophy.  His latest essays include “FitzGerald’s Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám: Critical Celebrations of a Beloved Poem,” and “Conceptualizing Lived Experience: Mailer as an Intellectual.”

Timothy Nolan is a playwright living in Brooklyn, NY. He is the author of the plays Mighty Good Company, Acts of Contrition, and What’s In A Name, The Way Out, and The Bull Ring. His plays have won two Excellence in Fringe awards at the NY International Fringe Festival and the Critics’ Choice award at the Samuel French Festival, and he has been named an Indie Theater Person of the Year. 

Mark Olshaker is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and author of ten nonfiction books and five novels, including Einstein’s Brain and The Edge. His books with former FBI Special Agent and criminal profiling pioneer John Douglas, beginning with Mindhunter and, most recently Law & Disorder, have sold millions of copies and have been translated into many languages. His book with epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, Deadliest Enemy: Our War With Killer Germs, will be published in 2017. Olshaker is past president of the Norman Mailer Society, a director of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation, a life member of the Writers Guild of America. He and his wife Carolyn, an attorney, live in Washington, D.C.

Denise Doherty Pappas is the author of John Simmons: The Measure of a Man, a biography of her college’s founder that she began writing at the Norman Mailer Writing Center in Provincetown in 2011. A former writing teacher at Tufts University and the Fletcher School, Denise is presently completing a family memoir “Holy/Unholy: a Secular Drama.”

Victor Peppard is Professor of Russian at the University of South Florida in Tampa.  He has published on such writers as Babel’, Gogol’, Dostoevsky, Mailer, Nabokov, Solzhenitsyn, Olesha, and Voinovich, and on the history of Russian and Soviet sport.  He has also published several short stories.

Joanna Poncavage has successfully managed dual careers as a journalist and organic farmer. She was a reporter and features writer for The Morning Call, the daily newspaper in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and then a senior editor for Rodale’s Organic Gardening magazine. A lifelong organics advocate, she is dedicated to the survival of her family’s 225-year-old farm in Lizard Creek Valley near the Pocono Mountains. She is the author of three gardening books: Totally Sunflowers, The Italian Kitchen Garden, and (for children), Grow a Totally Weird Garden

Lawrence Schiller began his career as a photojournalist for Life, Time, and Paris Match, photographing some of the most iconic figures of the 1960s, from Lee Harvey Oswald to Robert F. Kennedy, from Ali and Foreman to Redford and Newman. His book projects include the Pulitzer Prize–winning book, The Executioner’s Song, by Norman Mailer, and five New York Times bestsellers. He has directed or produced 20 motion pictures for television; The Executioner’s Song and Peter the Great won five Emmys. 

Phillip Sipiora is Professor of English and Film Studies at the University of South Florida. He is the author or editor of five books and has published approximately three dozen scholarly essays. He has lectured nationally and internationally on twentieth-century literature and film and is the Founding Editor of The Mailer Review. He is the editor of a forthcoming volume, The Films of Ida Lupino (Edinburgh University Press).

Caleb Sizemore’s poems and flash fiction have appeared in The Crucible magazine of Lock Haven University. Caleb authored and performed comedy sketches that premiered at Caroline’s, Comix, People’s Improv Theater, and the Broadway Comedy Club in New York City. His latest play, Stripped, was workshopped and performed by Wolfbane Productions in Appomattox, Virginia. He is pursuing an M.F.A. in playwriting from Wilkes University. Sizemore continues to write plays, act, and direct the Danville Area School District’s Performing Arts Ensemble and Drama Club. He also teaches the first Theatre Arts class offered in the school district.

William Thelin is a professor at the University of Akron, where he teaches graduate courses in composition theory, pedagogy, and research methods.  His scholarship focuses on critical pedagogy and working-class culture, and he is the author of one textbook, Writing Without Formulas.  He is active in several national groups, including Rhetoricians for Peace and the Working-Class Culture and Pedagogy special interest group.

Hillary Transue recently completed her Master of Arts in Fiction at Wilkes University.  She is currently an M.F.A. student in the Wilkes University Creative Writing program.  Hillary has appeared on multiple national talk-shows to promote the documentary film Kids For Cash released by SenArt Films in 2014.  Hillary’s story was a key element in the film that exposed the treatment of juveniles in the judicial system and led to the removal and imprisonment of two corrupt judges.  The Wilkes University Relations Office awarded Hillary a graduate assistantship to complete her M.F.A.

Ken Vose has written for film, television, and stage. The film of his play Papa: The Man, the Myth, the Legend, co-authored with Jordan Rhodes, and based on the life of Ernest Hemingway, was selected Best Historical Drama at the 2010 New York Independent Film Festival. Originator and co-author of the hit Warner Bros film Greased Lightning starring Richard Pryor, his television credits include: Spies, Thundercats, and The Comic Strip. His books include Makin’ Tracks (a Book-of-the-Month Club Selection), Blue Guitar, The Convertible, and the novels Oversteer and Dead Pedal.   

Barbara Wasserman is Norman Mailer’s sister.  She has worked as a researcher for film and television documentaries, and as a book editor.  In 1967 she published The Bold New Women, an anthology of contemporary women writers.   Currently, she is completing a book of personal memoirs.

Nina Wiener studied literature and art history at Vassar College in New York before falling in love with making books. Since 2002 she has edited dozens of titles for TASCHEN, including Marilyn & Me by Lawrence Schiller, Bob Dylan: A Year and a Day by Daniel Kramer, and a literary series including the works of James Baldwin, Norman Mailer, Gay Talese, and Tom Wolfe.

John Winters is a veteran journalist and writer who also teaches English and drama at Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts. He is the author of a forthcoming biography of Sam Shepard (Counterpoint Press, 2017).

Melissa Ziobro served as a command historian at Fort Monmouth, NJ from 2004-2011. She currently serves as the Specialist Professor of Public History at Monmouth University, teaching courses such as Oral History, Introduction to Public History, and Museum and Archives Management Basics and coordinating the University’s “Monmouth Memories” oral history program. Melissa also serves as the editor for New Jersey Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, and as an at-large board member for Oral History in the Mid-Atlantic Region.