"Lost and Found" Writing Contest 

Presented by The Center for American Literary Studies and Centre County Reads. 

This contest is part of the 2024 Centre County Reads/CALS Community Read of Brendan Slocumb’s The Violin Conspiracy, a novel centered on the history of a Stradivarius passed down through the generations of a Black Southern family. 

Ray McMillan inherits the violin of his formerly enslaved great-great-grandfather and uses it to make a name for himself as a classical musician. When the violin is stolen, facing indifference from both the police and the classical music community, Ray must take matters into his own hands to find it. As he works to recover his violin, he must also confront the racist past surrounding it—and reassert his claim not only to the violin, but also to his own talent, career, and destiny.

Following the example of Slocumb’s novel, enter your best work of writing that centers on something lost—an object, a person, a history, a memory—and the attempt (successful or not) to recover it. 

Submit your piece of 7,500 words or less for competition in one of the following categories: 

Best Short Fiction 

Best Non-Fiction

Best Poetry 

Best Entry for a Writer Under 18

$300 Grand Prize (additional prizes for winners in each category)

Entries are due by March 11, 2024.  Submit to

Winning entries will be displayed at the Schlow Centre Region Library and on the CALS website.

"The Art of Growing Up" Roundtable

Presented by The Center for American Literary Studies and Centre County Reads. 

Wednesday, February 28 | 4pm-5pm | PSU Zoom 

Inspired by Slocumb’s novel, this virtual roundtable discussion will address the role of the arts in the process of growing up. Three invited panelists will consider not only fictional representations of coming-of-age, like books and movies, but also the real-life role art plays in making us who we are and enabling us to embrace our unique identities. The panel will be moderated by Jess Rafalko, Grad Student in English, Penn State. 

Featured Panelists:

Suzanne Hall. Associate Professor of Music Education, Temple University

Suzanne Hall teaches courses in general music at the elementary and secondary levels at Temple University. She is a frequent presenter at conferences and provides professional development workshops on music and literacy integration strategies for school districts across the country. She is a published author of articles and books on the subject including Teaching Elementary Music: Integrative Strategies between Music and Other Subjects (Kendall Hunt 2013).

Spencer Tricker, Assistant Professor of English, Clark University

Spencer Tricker specializes in American literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His first book manuscript-in-progress, Imminent Communities, explores the uses and abuses of cosmopolitan rhetoric and feeling in the work of writers and public figures from the United States, Canada, the Philippines, and Hawai‘i. Tricker regularly teaches courses focused on coming-of-age stories in multiethnic American literatures.

Ann Holt, Assistant Professor of Art Education, Pennsylvania State University 

Ann Holt is an advisor and artist teacher with Arts Action Group, an international community-based collective committed to facilitating arts initiatives with children and youth in conflict-affected environments. She is also co-editor in chief of Arts, Culture & Development, a blind peer-reviewed, annually published journal on the role of arts and culture in global development practice.

Moderator:  Jess Rafalko, Graduate Student in English, Penn State

Book Discussions 

Tuesday, January 16 | 5:30pm-6:30pm | Schlow Library | Sun Room 

Thursday, February 22 | 6:30pm - 7:30pm | Schlow Library | Sun Room 

Monday, March 4 | 6pm - 7pm | Holt Memorial Library 

Wednesday, March 13 | 12:15pm - 1pm | CR Active Adult Center (Nittany Mall, 55+) 

Wednesday, March 15 | 3pm - 4pm | Centre County Library & Historical Museum 

Thursday, March 28 | 6pm - 7pm | Centre County Library & Historical Museum

Thursday, March 28 | 6pm - 7pm | Foxdale Community Building | Meeting Room 


Saturday, February 10 | 10:30am | Schlow Centre Region Library

Monday, March 4 | 10:30am | Centre Hall Area Branch Library

Wednesday, March 6 | 10:30am | Holt Memorial Library

Wednesday, March 13 | 10am | Centre County Library & Historical Museum

Wednesday, March 13 | 11am | Centre County Library & Historical Museum

More Activities 

Take & Make | During March | Centre Hall Area Branch Library

"The Soloist " Film Talk | Friday, March 1 | 1pm | Centre County Library & Historical Museum

Kids Connect | Thursday, March 7 | 6pm | Holt Memorial Library 

Join the folks from Robert M. Sides Family Music Center for hands-on exploration of instruments in the brass, woodwind, string and percussion families.  Squeaks, bangs and toots for sure, but also lots of first notes and smiles for all!

An Evening with Brendan Slocumb 

Wednesday, March 20 | 7pm - 8pm | Zoom | Register here

Moderated by Dr. Marica S. Taconi 

Distinguished Professor of Musicology, School of Music Associate Director, Pennsylvania State University 

Free and open to the public.