Author of "Nickel and Dimed" among keynote speakers at 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference

Thursday, February 12, 2015 - 16:09

Author of “Nickel and Dimed” among keynote speakers at 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference

Speakers will discuss economic, racial and other divisions in U.S.

What: The 11th annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, hosted by the University of North Texas’ Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism.

When: July 17 (Friday)-July 19 (Sunday)

Where: Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center, 1800 Highway 26 East in Grapevine, Texas

Cost: Conference registration fees on or before May 1 are $374 for the public, $354 for educators and $324 for students. After May 1, all registration fees are $425. The conference is limited to 300 participants. Registration, which includes all speaker sessions and several meals, will close when the conference is full. Participants may register online.

Contact:The Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism at 940-565-4564 or

DENTON (UNT), Texas — Barbara Ehrenreich, who related her experiences of three months of working minimum wage jobs in the bestselling memoir “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America,” will be a keynote speaker at the 2015 Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference.

The conference is being hosted July 17-19 (Friday-Sunday) for an 11th straight year by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism, part of the University of North Texas’ Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. It will be held at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas.

George Getschow, the Graduate Institute’s writer-in-residence and conference director, said more than 25 nationally acclaimed writers will explore the conference theme — different dimensions of “the great divide between the haves and have-nots in American society and the social, economic, racial, cultural and political fissures created by this divide.”

In addition to Ehrenreich, the keynote speakers for this year’s conference are Anne Fadiman, author of “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures,” an account of the cross-cultural conflicts between a refugee family from Laos and American doctors, and Alex Tizon, whose memoir, “Big Little Man: In Search Of My Asian Self,” examines race, culture, politics, power and stereotypes of Asian Americans.

Other conference speakers include:

  • Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson, who is launching a digital publishing venture in long-form narrative storytelling.
  • Jeff Chang, who explores the issues of race and multiculturalism in “Who We Be: The Colorization of America.”
  • Hanna Rosin, author of “The End of Men: And the Rise of Women,” about the supposed dominance of women in U.S. schools and workplaces
  • Washington Post writer Eli Saslow, winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in explanatory writing for reporting on the prevalence of food stamps in post-recession America.
  • Helen Thorpe, author of “Soldier Girls: The Battle of Three Women at Home and At War,” named the top nonfiction book of 2014 by Time magazine.
  • Linda Tirado, author of “Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America,” which relates her experiences as a 32-year-old college student working two low-paying jobs, and includes a foreword from Ehrenreich.

Fadiman will give the conference’s opening keynote address July 17 (Friday). Currently a writer in residence at Yale University, she received a National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction, a Salon Book Award and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize for “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down,” her first book. She has also written two essay collections, “Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader” and “At Large and At Small: Familiar Essays.” Fadiman’s latest book, “The Oenophile’s Daughter,” will be published this spring.

Ehrenreich will be the keynote speaker July 18 (Saturday) during the conference’s annual Literary Lights Dinner. She originally wrote “Nickel and Dimed” as an article for Harper’s magazine. The article was later published as a chapter in the book of the same title. To research the article and the resulting book, Ehrenreich worked full time as a waitress in Key West, Florida; as a nursing home aide and a maid in Portland, Maine, and as a clerk in a department store in Minneapolis, living on only the minimum wage paychecks.

Ehrenreich is also the author of “Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream,” a follow-up to “Nickel and Dimed;” “This Land Is Their Land: Reports From a Divided Nation” and “Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America,” among others. Her latest work is “Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything,” a memoir published last year.

Tizon will give the keynote speech July 19 (Sunday). Currently a faculty member at the University of Oregon, he received the 1997 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting while he was a reporter for the Seattle Times. Tizon and two colleagues shared the prize for a five-part series about fraud and mismanagement in the Federal Indian Housing Program.

Tizon was also the Seattle bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times and a Knight International Journalism Fellow based in Manila. “Big Little Man,” Tizon’s first book, was published in 2014 and received the Lukas Book Prize Work-In-Progress Award in 2011.

Conference registration fees are $374 for the general public, $354 for educators and $324 for students through May 1. After May 1, all participants will pay $425. Registration includes all speaker sessions as well as several meals. Registration information is online and closes whenever the conference is filled. The Friday and Saturday keynote events are open to guests of those who have registered for the conference, and members of the general public, for separate fees.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108