First week of March to celebrate 300th anniversary of Robinson Crusoe

Dr. Amy Gates

Robinson Crusoe Week at Missouri Southern (March 1-8) will celebrate the 300th anniversary of the publication of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The week-long series of interdisciplinary events is sponsored by the Department of English and Philosophy and features activities that will appeal to nearly everyone.

Since it was first published, on April 25, 1719, The Life and Strange Surprizing Adventures of Robinson Crusoe has never gone out of print. And no wonder! It is a tale of adventure, shipwreck, pirates, and island survival. Since its earliest days, Defoe’s novel inspired so many imitations and adaptations that a new literary genre of castaway tales was born: the Robinsonade.

Whether people realize it or not, they have encountered Crusoe’s influence, from novels such as Swiss Family Robinson and Lord of the Flies to television programs Gilligan’s Island and Lost, films Cast Away and Robinson Crusoe on Mars, or reality shows Survivor and Naked and Afraid.

From the serious to the silly, Robinson Crusoe Week events at Missouri Southern will give participants a taste of the wonderful diversity within the novel. All events are free and open to the public.

The week begins with the release party for bordertown, Southern’s student-produced literary magazine, on Friday, March 1, in Spiva Library Room L-413.

With a nod to Defoe and Crusoe, the 2019 issue includes a special section on the Unknown. Beginning at about noon, some of the writers will read, and the winners of the Flash Fiction contest will be announced.

At about 12:45 p.m., the prompt for the Robinson Crusoe Week Desert Island Story Contest will be released live and simultaneously on the department’s Facebook page.

The week that follows is packed with Crusoe-related events. On Sunday, a “Crash Course on Crusoe” offers an introduction to the novel, no advanced reading required.

On Monday Professors Jonathan Adongo, John Davenport, Jill Greer and Jason Willand put “Robinson Crusoe in Context,” revealing some of the facts behind Defoe’s fiction.

On Tuesday, officials at Bookhouse Cinema will host a film double header with Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday.

Crusoe kept busy on his island by taming goats; learning how to make pottery; and finding what he needed to survive.

On Tuesday, goats will be out and about on the Oval between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Also on Tuesday, Professor Frank Pishkur (Art) and the Southern Clay Club will also help participants make pots on the Oval from 1 to 3 p.m.

On Wednesday evening, they will pit-fire the pottery on the Oval. CAB is sponsoring a Robinson Crusoe Coconut Hunt during the day on Wednesday.

On Thursday, keynote speaker Dr. Shirley Tung (Kansas State University) will discuss the role of the journal in Defoe’s narrative and lead audience members in an interactive exercise in working with manuscript journals.

The week wraps up with the final Gala on Friday, where winners of the Writing Contest will be announced and read from their work.

Robinson Crusoe Week is part of the Literature Lives series and is supported by contributions from the Office of the Vice President of Academic Affairs, the Institute of International Studies, alumni and friends of Missouri Southern, and many area businesses. For details and updates, persons interested may visit