Mercer professors organize first Gothic Festival to be held on Macon campus

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MACON – Mercer University is hosting its first Gothic Festival, which will feature a variety of Gothic-themed events on the Macon campus from Oct. 27-30.

Dr. Clara Mengolini, associate professor of Spanish literature, conjured the event’s theme from her passion for the supernatural.

“Ever since I was young, I was interested in dark horror books. When I was in high school, my mom gave me some stories by Edgar Allan Poe, and I loved them,” Dr. Mengolini said. “That’s always been something I liked.”

Her creative gears began to turn for the event when Dr. Mengolini noticed a “Hauntology” course flyer offered by Dr. Marc Jolley, senior lecturer of philosophy, last semester in Knight Hall. The course covered Frankenstein, Henry James and other horror literature.

“I saw the names on the flyer, and I emailed him and said, ‘I love those authors! Maybe we can host an event together,’ Dr. Mengolini recalled. “It’s always interesting to work with other departments because you get out of your comfort zone.”

Dr. Jolley responded to Dr. Mengolini with eager interest to host an event, and the idea of the Gothic Festival was born.

“I realized we could do many things during the event because there are Gothic movies, paintings, books, buildings and more,” Dr. Mengolini said. “The genre is huge, and I suggested to Dr. Jolley that we could have a weeklong Gothic festival.”

Other faculty members involved in the effort include Dr. Jonathan Glance, Griffith Professor and chair of English; Dr. Thomas Bullington, lecturer of liberal arts; Dr. Kevin Cummings, professor and chair of communication studies and theatre arts; and Dr. Cameron Kunzelman, coordinator of fellowships and scholarships.

The festivities for each day include a scholars panel on Wednesday from 6-7:30 p.m., a film viewing and discussion on Thursday from 6-8:30 p.m., a Dungeons and Dragons medieval-themed game night on Friday from 6-10 p.m. and an arts exhibition and cosplay event on Saturday from 2-5 p.m. The first three events will be held in Connell Student Center Conference Room 1, while the last event will be in Connell Student Center Conference Room 3.

The last day’s festivities feature a Gothic arts submission contest where any student can submit a Gothic poem, story, drawing, photo or short movie for a chance to win a prize. Students may also dress up as their favorite Gothic character if they choose.

Dr. Mengolini believes that this event is important due to its opportunity for students to be expressive, regardless of their academic concentration at Mercer.

“We want our students not only to have fun but to learn,” she said. “It’s always a blast to have our students being creative and to be challenged.”

For more information about the Gothic Festival and to submit an art piece, contact Dr. Mengolini at gothicfestival@mercer.edu. Art submissions are accepted through Oct. 27.

Jacqueline Lamothe, a Lilburn native, is a sophomore journalism major and graphic design minor at Mercer University. Jacqueline is a member of the Student Government Association, Leadership Mercer and National Council of Negro Women.