Speakers - Catholic Imagination Conference - University of Dallas

Speakers - Catholic Imagination Conference - University of Dallas

Uwem Akpan

Uwem Akpan

Uwem Akpan was born in Ikot Akpan Eda in Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria. Uwem's short stories and autobiographical pieces have appeared in the special editions of The New Yorker, the Oprah magazine, Hekima Review, the Nigerian Guardian, America, etc.

His first book, Say You're One of Them, was published in 2008 by Little, Brown. It made the "Best of the Year" list at People magazine, Wall Street Journal, and other places. His second book and first novel, New York, My Village, was published on November 2, 2021, by WW Norton. In this immigrant story, Uwem writes about NYC with the same promise and pain we saw in his African cities of Say You're One of Them.

Uwem has been a Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute (University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2010), Institute for the Humanities (University of Michigan, 2011), Yaddo Foundation (Saratoga Springs, New York, 2012), the Cullman Center (the New York Public Library, 2013) and the Hang Center for Catholic Intellectual Heritage (Loyola University Chicago, 2017).

Uwem teaches in the University of Florida's MFA Program.

Glenn Arbery

Glen Arbery Glenn Arbery is president of Wyoming Catholic College. In addition to numerous essays and reviews, he has published two volumes with ISI Books, Why Literature Matters (2001) and The Southern Critics (2010), editor. He is also the editor of The Tragic Abyss (2003) for the Dallas Institute Press and Augustine’s Confessions and Its Influence, St. Augustine Press (2019). His novel Bearings and Distances was published by Wiseblood Books in 2015, and his second, Boundaries of Eden, was published in 2020.

Jason Baxter

Jason BaxterJason M. Baxter is an associate professor of fine arts and humanities at Wyoming Catholic College and the author of multiple books, including Beginner’s Guide to Dante’s Comedy (Baker Academic) and The Infinite Beauty of the World: Dante’s Encyclopedia and the Names of God (Peter Lang).

Christopher Beha

Chris Beha

Christopher Beha is the author of a memoir, The Whole Five Feet, and the novels Arts & Entertainments and What Happened to Sophie Wilder. His latest novel, The Index of Self-Destructive Acts, was nominated for the 2020 National Book Award. His writing has appeared in the New York Review of Books, New York Times, and London Review of Books. He is the editor of Harper’s Magazine. He lives in New York City with his wife and family. 

Mark Bosco

Mark BoscoA native of St. Louis, Missouri, Fr. Bosco came to Georgetown from Loyola University Chicago, where he was a tenured faculty member in the Departments of Theology and English. Fr. Bosco’s scholarship focuses on the intersection of theology and art—specifically, the British and American Catholic literary traditions. 

Luke Burgis

Luke BurgisLuke Burgis is Entrepreneur-in-Residence at The Catholic University of America and author of Wanting: The Power of Mimetic Desire in Every Life.

Katy Carl

Katy CarlKaty Carl is the editor in chief of Dappled Things magazine and the author of As Earth Without Water, a novel (Wiseblood Books, 2021) and Praying the Great O Antiphons: My Soul Magnifies the Lord (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). Her work has appeared in Windhover, Fare Forward, Vita Poetica, Belle Ombre, Across the Margin, Exposition Review, Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, Evangelization & Culture, Angelus, Psaltery & Lyre, Sostenuto, Mom Egg Review, Genealogies of Modernity, St. Louis magazine, the National Catholic Register, and the Mid/South Anthology, among others. She is a senior affiliate fellow of the Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society located at the University of Pennsylvania and is currently pursuing her MFA in fiction at the University of St. Thomas—Houston. Her short story collection is forthcoming from Wiseblood Books in 2023.

Lesley Clinton

Lesley ClintonLesley Clinton is a writer, editor, and educator. Her chapbook, Calling the Garden from the Grave, won second place in the 2021 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest. Her poems and book reviews have appeared in THINK, The Windhover, Mezzo Cammin, Ekstasis Magazine, America, Christianity & Literature, and elsewhere.

Paul Contino

Paul ContinoPaul J. Contino is Professor of Great Books at Pepperdine University where he has taught since 2002 and twice been granted the university’s Howard A. White Award for Teaching Excellence. He has published essays on contemporary Catholic writers such as Tobias Wolff, Andre Dubus and Alice McDermott. His essay on teaching the theological dimensions of The Divine Comedy was recently published in MLA Approaches to Teaching Dante. Last year, his book, Dostoevsky’s Incarnational Realism: Finding Christ among the Karamazovs, was named a finalist for both the Lilly Fellows and the Conference on Christianity and Literature book awards.

Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez

Sarah Cortez is founder and president of Catholic Literary Arts. A professional writer and editor, educator and public speaker, she is a fellow of the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She regularly teaches professional development workshops to train teachers in the pedagogy of creative writing. She has functioned as an educational consultant for Harris County Department of Education and trained teachers through Humanities Texas. She is the founder of Fearless Writing, an online source of accessible resources enabling educators and parents to teach creative writing.

Anthony Domestico

Anthony DomesticoAnthony Domestico is chair of the literature department at Purchase College, SUNY and the books columnist for Commonweal. His reviews and essays have appeared in the Atlantic, the Baffler, Book Post, the Boston Globe, and Literary Hub, among many other places. His book, Poetry and Theology in the Modernist Period, is available from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Michial Farmer

Michial FarmerMichial Farmer is a poet and essayist, the author of Imagination and Idealism in John Updike's Fiction (Camden House, 2017) and the translator of Gabriel Marcel's Thirst (Cluny, 2021). His poems and essays have appeared in Front Porch Republic, America Magazine, and Dappled Things, among other venues. After a decade in higher education, he teaches Western civilization at a classical charter school in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife, Victoria. 

Abigail Favale

Abigail FavaleAbigail Favale is an award-winning writer in multiple genres. She is the author of Into the Deep: An Unlikely Catholic Conversion and The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory

Jenn Frey

Jenn Frey

Dr. Jennifer Frey is an associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina and fellow of the Institute for Human Ecology at the Catholic University of America. She has published widely on action, virtue, practical reason, and meta-ethics, and has recently co-edited an interdisciplinary volume, Self-Transcendence and Virtue: Perspectives from Philosophy, Theology, and Psychology.

Bernardo Garcia


Jonathan Geltner

Jonathan GeltnerJonathan Geltner was born in Eastern Massachusetts but grew up mainly in Cincinnati, Ohio. He studied English, Classics, and French at the University of Cincinnati, pursued graduate work in English at the University of Chicago, and earned an MFA in fiction from Warren Wilson College. He published a translation of Paul Claudel’s Five Great Odes with Angelico Press in 2020. Absolute Music is his first novel.

Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia

Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed poet and writer. Former California Poet laureate and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Gioia was born in Los Angeles of Italian and Mexican descent. The first person in his family to attend college, he received a B.A. and M.B.A. from Stanford and an M.A. from Harvard in Comparative Literature. His most recent book, 99 Poems: New & Selected gathers work from across Gioia’s career, including a dozen remarkable new poems.

Shemaiah Gonzalez

Shemaiah GonzalezShemaiah Gonzalez writes for a variety of Catholic publications including Catholic News Services, Loyola Press, U.S. Catholic, and America. Her biography on Catholic writer, Brian Doyle will be published in Spring 2023 with Liturgical Press. Shemaiah lives in Seattle with her attorney husband and two middle school sons.

Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen

Ron Hansen is the author of ten novels—including The Kid, Mariette in Ecstasy, Desperadoes, and A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion—and two short story collections, among them She Loves Me Not. His novel The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and Atticus a finalist for the National Book Award.

Cynthia Haven

Cynthia Haven Cynthia L. Haven is a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar. She writes regularly for The Times Literary Supplement, and has also contributed to The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The Wall Street Journal, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and World Literature Today. Her work has also appeared in Le Monde, La Repubblica, Die Welt, Zvezda, Colta, Zeszyty Literackie, The Kenyon Review, Quarterly Conversation, The Georgia Review, and Civilization.

Joe Hoover

Joe HooverJoe Hoover is a religious brother in the Society of Jesus, a writer and an actor. As an actor he has appeared in productions Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway and regionally. His own plays have been produced in New York City and in his hometown of Omaha. He founded Xavier Theatre and Film to produce new works in the Catholic arts tradition. He currently works as Poetry Editor of America Magazine.

Joshua Hren

Joshua Hren Joshua Hren is the founder and publisher of Wiseblood Books. Fictionist, poet, and critic, he has written seven books: the short story collections This Our Exile and In the Wine Press; How to Read (and Write) Like a Catholic; Contemplative Realism: A Theological Aesthetical Manifesto; Middle-Earth and the Return of the Common Good: Tolkien and Political Philosophy; Last Things, First Things, and Other Lost Causes: Poems; and the novel Infinite Regress. Alongside James Matthew Wilson, Joshua founded the Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of St. Thomas Houston. 

Phil Klay

Phil KlayPhil Klay is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and the author of Missionaries, named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best books of 2022, and Redeployment, which received the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction. He teaches at Fairfield University, and his latest book of nonfiction, Uncertain Ground: Citizenship in an Age of Endless, Invisible War, was published with Penguin Press in May.

Bonnie Lander Johnson

Bonnie Lander Johnson Johnson is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge. She writes literary essays, fiction, journalism, academic books about Shakespeare and Renaissance culture, and critical editions of novels by the forgotten women of the Catholic Literary Renaissance. In Cambridge, she teaches English Literature and sits on the steering committee of the BBC / Cambridge National Short Story Prize.

Elly Lindsay

Elly Lindsay was last seen at Amphibian Stage Productions as Player One in Babette’s Feast. Over the past 40 years, she has worked on many area stages, including Undermain, Echo Theater, Wingspan, Dallas Theater Center, Dallas Children’s Theater, Water Tower Theater, Amphibian Stage Productions, Stage West and Circle Theater. She received D Magazine’s Best Actress award and the Dallas Fort Worth Critics Forum Award for her role as Carrie Watts in The Trip to Bountiful at The Contemporary Theater of Dallas. Elly taught for more than fifteen years at Booker T. Washington HSPVA and KD Actors Conservatory. Thanks to her husband, Randy Bonifay, for his constant support.

Paul Mariani

Paul Mariani Paul Mariani is an award-winning poet, biographer and critic. Mariani is the author of twenty books, including eight volumes of poetry and biographies of Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Hart Crane, Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. Mariani is a former poetry editor at America and University Professor of English Emeritus at Boston College.

Kathleen Marks

Kathleen MarksDr. Kathleen Marks is an Associate Professor, Chair of English and Speech, and Director of Liberal Studies in the Collins College of Professional Studies at St. John’s University, NYC. Her book, Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the Apotropaic Imagination (University of Missouri Press, 2002) explores the intersection between African American literature and ancient Greek religion. Kathleen lives in Queens with her English professor husband and college student daughter.

Trevor Merrill

Trevor MerrillTrevor Merrill’s reviews and essays have appeared in The University Bookman, Dappled Things, Catholic Arts Today, and others. He writes a column for L’Atelier du roman, a French literary review, and has edited and translated the work of René Girard. His novel Minor Indignities is now available from Wiseblood Books.

Julia Meszaros

Julie Meszaros Julia Meszaros is a theologian at St. Patrick’s Pontifical University Maynooth (Ireland) working in the area of theological anthropology and drawing on the intersection between theology and literature. Together with Bonnie Lander Johnson, she edits the series ‘Catholic women writers’ for CUA press.

Philip Metres

Phil MetresBorn in San Diego on July 4th, 1970, Philip Metres grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He graduated from Holy Cross College in 1992, and spent the following year in Russia on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship pursuing an independent project called “Contemporary Russian Poetry and Its Relationship to Historical Change.” Since receiving a Ph.D. in English and an M.F.A. in creative writing from Indiana University in 2001, Metres has written and translated a number of books and chapbooks. 

Mary Ann Miller

Mary Ann MillerMary Ann Buddenberg Miller is professor of English at Caldwell University in Caldwell, New Jersey, and founding editor-in-chief of Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry, an annual professional print poetry journal that publishes new poems and translations, interviews, book reviews and essays on poetry informed by the Catholic faith. She is editor of St. Peter's B-list: Contemporary Poems Inspired by the Saints (Ave Maria Press, 2014), the Fall 2019 selection by America Magazine’s The Catholic Book Club.

Michael Murphy

Micheal Murphy Michael Murphy is Director of Loyola’s Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage. He earned his doctorate in Theology, Literature, and Philosophy from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, an MA in English from San Francisco State University, and undergraduate degrees in English and Great Books from the University of San Francisco. His first book, A Theology of Criticism, was named a "Distinguished Publication" in 2008 by the American Academy of Religion.

Anthony Nussmeier


Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo ODonnellAngela Alaimo O’Donnell is a writer, poet, and professor at Fordham University in New York City where she teaches English, Creative Writing, and American Catholic Studies. She also serves as Associate Director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. In addition to her scholarship, O'Donnell writes poetry and creative non-fiction.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh OxenreiderTsh Oxenreider is an author of several non-fiction books, including At Home in the World, Shadow & Light, and Bitter & Sweet. A long-time podcaster, she currently co-hosts the show A Drink With a Friend and writes the popular Substack newsletter The Commonplace. Her other hats include travel guide, high school English teacher, and mother to two teens and a tween. Tsh is currently writing her first novel from her backyard trailer-turned-office in a small town north of Austin, Texas.

Paul Pastor

Paul PastorPaul Pastor is a poet, author of several books (most recently Bower Lodge: Poems from Fernwood Press), and serves as an editor for two of Random House's Christian imprints. His poetry has been published by many respected outlets, including The Windhover, Ekstasis, Fathom, North American Anglican, and Solum Literary Press, and has been anthologized by the New York Quarterly Review. He lives in Oregon.

Jeannine M. Pitas

Jeannine Pitas

Jeannine M. Pitas is a writer, teacher and Spanish-English literary translator who teaches in the English department at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  She is also a regular contributor to the Catholic blog Vox Nova.

Gloria Purvis

Gloria PurvisGloria Purvis is a graduate of Cornell University. She is an author, commentator and the host and executive producer of The Gloria Purvis Podcast in collaboration with America Media. Through her media presence, she has been a strong Catholic voice for life issues, religious liberty, and racial justice. She has appeared in various media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS Newshour, EWTN News Nightly, and Catholic Answers Live and previously hosted Morning Glory, an international radio show. She was named Our Sunday Visitor's Catholic of The Year for 2020. She is the Inaugural Pastoral Fellow at the McGrath Institute for Church Life at Notre Dame University.

Brett Robinson

Brett Robinson

Brett Robinson is director of communications and Catholic media studies at the McGrath Institute for Church Life. In his role, he oversees outreach efforts for the institute while conducting research at the intersection of religion, technology and culture.

Renee Darline Roden

Renee RodenRenée D. Roden is the executive director of Catholic Artist Connection and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and Columbia Journalism School. Her plays have appeared at The Tank, the Bushwick Starr, and Triskelion Arts. Her writing has appeared in the Associated Press, Washington Post, Religion News Service, The Tablet, and America Magazine.

Edward Short

Edward ShortEdward Short is the author of several books on Saint John Henry Cardinal Newman, as well as Adventures in the Book Pages: Essays and Reviews (2015). In August, Gracewing will be publishing The Saint Mary's Book of Christian Verse, which Mr. Short has chosen and introduced, as well as his latest book of literary and historical essays, What the Bells Sang.

Maya Sinha

Maya SinhaMaya Sinha writes essays and fiction about modern culture and family life. Her work has appeared in The Lamp, Dappled Things, Genealogies of Modernity, Book and Film Globe, Return, and many other publications. From 2019 to 2021, she wrote a regular humor column for The Saturday Evening Post. She is the author of the novel The City Mother (Chrism Press 2022). 

James K.A. Smith

James K.A. SmithJames K.A. Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin University and serves as editor in chief of Image journal, a quarterly devoted to “art, mystery, and faith.” An award-winning author, his books include Who’s Afraid of Postmodernism? (2006), Desiring the Kingdom (2009), How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor (2014), You Are What You Love (2016), Awaiting the King (2017), On the Road with Saint Augustine (2019) and The Nicene Option: An Incarnational Phenomenology (2021). His next book, How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now, will be published in 2022.

Dorian Speed

Dorian SpeedDorian Speed is a writer and educator who has spoken at the University of Notre Dame de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture conference, and whose work has appeared in Dappled Things and Walker Percy's The Moviegoer at Fifty: New Takes on an Iconic American Novel.

Haley Stewart

Haley Stewart

Haley Stewart is the Managing Editor of Word on Fire Spark and the author of The Grace of Enough, Jane Austen's Genius Guide to Life, and a series for young readers, The Sister Seraphina Mysteries. Haley was a University Scholar at Baylor University and she co-hosts The Fountains of Carrots Podcast. She has four children and her husband, Daniel, is a whisky distiller.

Helen Sung

Helen Sung

Helen Sung is an acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, and a newly named 2021 Guggenheim Fellow. A native of Houston, Texas, and graduate of its High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), she eschewed her classical piano upbringing after a jazz epiphany during undergraduate studies at UT Austin. Helen went on to become part of the inaugural class of the Thelonious Monk Institute (now the Herbie Hancock Institute) at the New England Conservatory of Music. Her recent releases Sung With Words (Stricker Street), a collaborative project with renowned poet Dana Gioia funded by a Chamber Music America New Jazz Works Grant, and Anthem For A New Day (Concord Jazz) topped the jazz charts. Helen and her band have performed at major American festivals and venues including Newport, Monterey, Disney Hall, SFJAZZ, and Carnegie Hall.

Sally Thomas

Sally ThomasSally Thomas is the author of a poetry collection, Motherland (Able Muse Press 2020), a forthcoming novel, Works of Mercy (Wiseblood Books 2022), and two poetry chapbooks. She is also co-editor of Christian Poetry in America Since 1940: An Anthology (Paraclete Press 2022). Her poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews have appeared in such venues as First Things, Plough Quarterly, and Public Discourse. Currently she serves as Associate Poetry Editor for the New York Sun.

Frederick Turner

Frederick TurnerFrederick Turner is the Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at UT-Dallas, an Institute Fellow, and award-winning author of numerous volumes of criticism and poetry.

Seth Wieck

Seth WieckSeth Wieck’s stories, essays, and poetry have been published in magazines such as Narrative Magazine, Front Porch Republic, and the Broad River Review where he won the Ron Rash Award in Fiction. He lives in Amarillo with his wife and three children.

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson is Professor of Humanities and the Founding Director of the Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing, at the University of Saint Thomas, Houston. An award-winning scholar of philosophical theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on all manner of subjects secular and divine.

Gregory Wolfe

Gregory WolfeGregory Wolfe is the founding editor of the indie, non-profit literary press, Slant Books. In 1989 he founded Image—one of America’s leading literary journals, which he edited for thirty years. He was also the founding director of the Seattle Pacific University MFA in Creative Writing program. Wolfe’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, First Things, Commonweal, and America. His books include Beauty Will Save the World, Intruding Upon the Timeless, and The Operation of Grace.

Jared Zimmerer

Jared ZimmererJared Zimmerer is the Senior Director of Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Institute. He is a doctoral candidate in humanities at Faulkner University’s Great Books Honors College where he is finishing his dissertation on the work of Russell Kirk. He holds a master’s degree in theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He and his wife Jessica have six children and live in North Texas.

Further donations and support for the conference are most welcome. If you or your organization would like to help fund the Catholic Imagination Conference, please feel free to contact the Cowan Center at CIC2022@udallas.edu