The 37th annual Key West Literary Seminar, “Under the Influence: Archetype & Adaptation,” begins Thursday, January 10, at the San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval Street, and runs through Sunday, January 13. This year’s Seminar will dig deep into the roots and origins of literary culture, exploring the influence of tales told by Homer and Shakespeare and in folk and fairy tale traditions the world over.
This year’s keynote speaker is Margaret Atwood, an iconic writer whose dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” has found new popular resonance with the television series of the same name. Atwood will delve into the literary underpinnings of this groundbreaking work, together with her Homeric and Shakespearean adaptations, “The Penelopiad” and “Hag-Seed.” On Saturday night, New Yorker poetry editor Kevin Young and acclaimed poet Rowan Ricardo Phillips sit down for a discussion of the influence of music—from Beethoven to Big Pun—in their remarkable work.
Throughout the weekend, today’s best writers will discuss an array of literary influences and adaptions, including graphic novel treatments of “Frankenstein” and “The Wizard of Oz” with Victor LaValle and Eric Shanower; adaptations of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Valerie Martin, and of “The Great Gatsby” by Stephanie Powell Watts. Joyce Carol Oates will talk about the influence of H.G. Wells; Emily Wilson about her translation of the Odyssey, which the New York Times calls “radically contemporary”; and Geraldine Brooks and Nicole Galland discuss the flexibility of good stories from “Othello” to “Little Women.” Dexter Palmer offers a dark new tale inspired by “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” while Naomi Novik, Danielle Paige, and Meg Cabot explore the intersection of fairy tales and modern femininity.
Although this year’s Seminar is sold out, a new series of free programs will be held after the Seminar at various locations from January 13-16, 2019. The full schedule can be found at: kwls.org/2019-free-programs. In addition, Seminar organizers have arranged for Rowan Ricardo Phillips to meet with students from Key West and Marathon high schools. An expanded schedule of The Old Town Literary Walking Tours is also offered throughout the seminar weekend. For more information, contact the Literary Seminar’s Executive Director, Arlo Haskell, at [email protected] or 305-293-9291. —Contributed