UNT Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference to celebrate 100th anniversary of Pulitzer Prizes

Monday, February 8, 2016 - 17:16

What: Pulitzers: A Century of Excellence: People, Politics & Public Affairs" -- The 12th annual Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference, hosted by the University of North Texas' Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism

When: July 22 (Friday)-July 24 (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 general 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 maybornconferenceinfo@unt.edu.

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- This summer's Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference will join nationwide centennial celebrations of the Pulitzer Prizes with its theme, "Pulitzers: A Century of Excellence: People, Politics & Public Affairs." Three Pulitzer recipients -- Gilbert King, winner of the prize for biography in 2013; Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian American to win a Pulitzer; and Margo Jefferson, winner of a 1995 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism -- will be the keynote speakers.

The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference has been hosted every year since 2005 by the Frank W. Mayborn Graduate Institute of Journalism, part of the University of North Texas' Frank W. and Sue Mayborn School of Journalism. Founded by George Getschow, the Mayborn School's Writer-in-Residence and a former Wall Street Journal reporter, the conference takes place at the Hilton DFW Lakes Executive Conference Center in Grapevine, Texas.

Conference director Neil Foote said this year's theme plays off the convergence of a presidential election at yet another transformative moment in U.S. history.

"Our goal this year is to recognize the Pulitzer Prize as the symbol of great accomplishments of journalists who have set out on missions to seek the truth, tell compelling stories and provide readers with insights into the world around them," said Foote, principal lecturer for the Mayborn school.

Conference director Michael Mooney, a Mayborn school alumnus and best-selling author, said the conference speakers will be "an incredible group of storytellers from a broad array of backgrounds."

"They will talk about not only the impact of their work, but also the specifics of their craft: How do you get the untold story? How do you bring history to life? How can you make readers care?" he said. 

King, the keynote speaker for the conference's opening dinner on July 22 (Friday), received his Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2013 for Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys and the Dawn of a New America.

King's other book is The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder, and the Search for Justice in the American South. He has written about Supreme Court history and the death penalty for the New York Times and Washington Post, and he was a featured contributor to Smithsonian magazine's history blog.

WuDunn will be the keynote speaker July 23 (Saturday) at the conference's Literary Lights Dinner, which will honor the winners of the conference's writing contests. She was a correspondent in the New York Times Beijing bureau when she won her Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for coverage of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. She shared the prize with her husband, Nicholas Kristof, who is still a columnist for the New York Times.

WuDunn and Kristof later wrote Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, after covering developing nations in Africa, Asia and the Middle East and discovering the suffering in the daily lives of poor women. The book was the basis for a popular documentary series on PBS.

WuDunn's latest book, co-authored with Kristof, is A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, published in 2014. A Path Appears was turned into a three-part PBS documentary.

Jefferson will be the keynote speaker July 24 (Sunday). She was the theatre critic for the New York Times when she won her Pulitzer Prize in 1995. She is the author of Negroland, which was chosen as one of 2015's best books by the New York Times, Washington Post and Time magazine, and of On Michael Jackson. Her essays have appeared in Grand Street, New York Magazine, Oprah magazine, Vogue and many other publications. Jefferson teaches in the writing program at Columbia University. 

Other conference speakers include:

  • Tampa Bay Times writer Lane DeGregory, winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for a story about a young girl abandoned by her family. DeGregory will be joined by Dallas Morning News editor Mike Wilson, who worked with her on the story.
  • CNN investigative reporter Sara Ganim, who won her Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Joe Paterno scandal at Penn State University, when she was with the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
  • Photographer Carol Guzy, a four-time Pulitzer Prize winner who has covered earthquakes in Haiti, mudslides in Columbia, refugees in Kosovo and prisons in Serbia
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Mark Johnson, a Pulitzer Prize winner and three-time finalist for writing about the human impact of science and health.

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