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Tony Nominee Rob Askins to Keynote School of Education Symposium [04/03/2016]


Blog-Rob-350Tony-nominated playwright and Baylor graduate Rob Askins, author of the Broadway play Hand to God, will be the keynote speaker for a Baylor School of Education event April 14.

The School of Education’s Department of Curriculum & Instruction will host a symposium, “Multiple Literacies: Reading and Writing Diverse Texts in a Digital Age” on April 14 and 15. Askins’ keynote talk will be Thursday, April 14, at 6 p.m., in Packard Hall (Marrs McLean Science Building, Room 101) on the Baylor campus. His topic will be “Getting It Out: Ego, Inspiration and the Changing Audience.” It is free and open to the public, with no reservations required.

On Friday, April 15, a faculty symposium will explore the topic further with multiple Baylor faculty speakers between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

School of Education professor Dr. Gretchen Schwarz, who organized the event, said “multiple literacies” refers to the need for students — and everyone — to be able to communicate across many platforms and to understand and create content in various formats — whether written, visual, or digital. She said she invited Askins because he employs multiple literacies in his creative process.

“As a playwright, he is a writer, but he communicates with multi-media,” Schwarz said. “He has to think about visuals, about sound, about movement.”

Askins’ most recent play, Permission, made its world premiere off-Broadway in spring 2015 at MCC Theater. Hand to God was a Best Play nominee for the 2015 Tony Awards. It received an Olivier Award nomination for Best New Comedy (awards to be presented April 3) and won an Obie Award. Hand to God played in the MCC Theater and the Booth Theatre on Broadway where it was named a New York Times Critics’ Pick and called “the most entertaining show of 2014.” Askins has received two EST/Sloan grants, the Helen Merrill Emerging Playwrights Award, and an Arch and Bruce Davis Award for Playwriting. He is currently at work on two feature film projects and an original comedy series for HBO.

The Friday morning symposium will include presentations on a variety of literacy topics by faculty from all over Baylor. Bringing diverse disciplines together was her goal in planning the symposium, Schwarz said. “We don’t get information just from print sources,” she explained. “We get information from online sources, music, plays, live events. How are we preparing students, who are reading and writing diverse texts in this digital age, for these multiple sources?”

Schwarz’s educational research includes multiple literacy also — she focuses on the study of graphic novels and other forms of graphic communication.

Friday’s symposium will include the following presentations by Baylor faculty (with respective departments listed), all located in the garden level of Marrs McLean Science, Room GL 15.


“Music and Civil Rights,” Prof. Robert Darden (Journalism, Public Relations & New Media)
“Rhetorical Strategies for Now,” Dr. Sam Perry (Baylor Interdisciplinary Core)
“Understanding Russian Icons,” Dr. Michael Long (Modern Foreign Languages and Cultures)
“Rap Music and Its Critique,” Dr. Lakia Scott (Curriculum & Instruction) and Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez (Journalism, Public Relations & New Media)
“Popular Culture,” Dr. Jim Kendrick (Film & Digital Media)
“Remediation and Writing,” Dr. Michael-John DePalma (English) and Dr. Kara Poe Alexander (English)
“Infusing Media Literacy into Teacher Ed,” Dr. Brandi Ray (Curriculum & Instruction) and Dr. Sunny Wells (Curriculum & Instruction)

A lunch will be served at 12:30 p.m., and reservations are needed for that. To reserve a lunch, email

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