Award-Winning Director Stephen Weeks to Speak at ‘POPSHOP’

Dr. Barbara Emrys
associate professor, UNK English department, 308.865.8293

Stephen Weeks, a writer and director who has won numerous awards for his work in films, will be the keynote speaker for  POPSHOP, a two-day conference focusing on the connection between popular culture and higher education taking place at the University of Nebraska at Kearney Thursday and Friday, Oct. 27 and 28.

Weeks, who won the 1975 Prize of the International Critics’ Jury for his directorial work on the horror film Ghost Story,  has been working in the film industry for more than 30 years. In 1970, at the age of 22, he directed his first full-length movie starring British horror film stars Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing entitled I, Monster, an adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  He also worked with Sean Connery and John Rhys-Davies on the 1984 film Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

In 1973, Weeks found a new hobby when he purchased the decaying 12th century castle Penhow in Wales and began restoring the property. He lived in that castle for more than 30 years until 1995, when he was invited to the Czech Republic to act as a consultant on tourism.

Since his move to the Czech Republic, Weeks has written, Daniela,  a 711-page epic novel which tells the story of a young Jewish man’s life in Europe during World War II.

According to Dr. Barbara Emrys, associate professor and chair of the Department of English, Weeks is a man of many talents, and his experience presents him as an excellent speaker for thePOPSHOP  conference.

The conference begins Thursday, Oct. 27, at 3:30 p.m. with screenings of several of Weeks’ films including Sword of the Valiant; I, Monster; and Ghost Story.  These will be shown in Thomas Hall and are open to the public.

On Friday, the day begins at 8:15 a.m. with registration and a breakfast in the Thomas Hall Atrium. The rest of the day will be made up of screenings of Weeks’ full-length and short films, and lectures about the basics of horror films.

Topics for lectures include “Visual Literacy for Film and the New Graphic Novel,” “The Persistence of the Dark Companion,” and “History Meets Fantasy in the Fiction of Stephen Lawhead and Stephen Weeks.” These lectures will be presented by Julie Flood, Justin Sevenker and Eric Reed, along with Drs. Rebecca Umland, Susan Honeyman, Barbara Emrys and Samuel Umland.

“We thought it would be fun to host this conference right before Halloween, since most of his films are in the horror genre,” Dr. Emrys said.

In the past, the English department has offered workshops called textshops in which the topic of mass media as it relates to education is discussed. Since UNK now offers a minor in pop culture, several of the professors who are now teaching courses in that area decided to restructure the textshops to be more focused on popular culture, according to Dr. Emrys.

Registration is $30 for teachers and professionals and $10 for students. The cost of registration goes up $5 for those registering on Saturday. Interested individuals can send payment to: Dr. Barbara Emrys, UNK Department of English, 202 Thomas Hall, University of Nebraska at Kearney, Kearney, NE 68849.


re-envisioning dark fantasy for the 21st century
October 27-28, 2005

The University of Nebraska at Kearney

Department of English


University of Nebraska at Kearney’s
Schedule of Events

8:15     Registration/Continental Breakfast         Atrium, Thomas Hall

9:00     Welcome                     Dr. Barbara Emrys, Chair,
Department of English

9:05     Feature Film:Ghost Story (1974)     115  Thomas Hall
     Directed by Stephen Weeks

10:45     Concurrent Sessions:

     A. “’Graphic’ is not a Dirty Word:            111  Thomas Hall
Visual Literacy for Film and the             Dr. Susan Honeyman and
New Graphic Novel”                 Eric Reed

B.  “Double, Doubles, Twins and Trouble:        119  Thomas Hall
The Persistence of the Dark Companion”     Dr. Barbara Emrys and
Dr. Sam Umland

12:00     Lunch, Cedar Room, 1st Floor            UNK Student Union
Keynote Address: Stephen Weeks

1:35     Concurrent Sessions:

A. “Romancing the Stones: History Meets        201  Thomas Hall
Fantasy in the Fiction of Stephen Lawhead     Dr. Rebecca Umland, Julie
and Stephen Weeks                 Flood, and Justin Sevenker

B. “Double, Doubles, Twins and Trouble:        111 Thomas Hall
The Persistence of the Dark Companion”     Dr. Barbara Emrys and

     Dr. Sam Umland

2:45     Feature Film:I, Monster (1971)             107 Thomas Hall
Directed by Stephen Weeks

4:30     Short Films:Scars; and Kipling Country    107  Thomas Hall
Directed by Stephen Weeks

5:30     Social Hour                    The Alley Rose
2013 Central Avenue

Stephen Weeks’  visit is sponsored by UNK’s Department of English.
Conference participation by undergraduates and graduate students was
funded by Dr. Ken Nikels, Office of Graduate Studies.


STEPHEN WEEKS BIO:     Mr. Stephen Weeks is a man of many talents: novelist, screenwriter,
filmmaker, and castle restoration expert. Born in 1948 and raised in Portsmouth,
England, Weeks began his career in film and television by writing, producing,
and directing a series of short films for Southern Television and BBC-TV. Two
of these, Flesh  and Victorian Church, won prizes at the Locarno Film
Festival. His first feature film, 1917, suggests his fascination, early in his career,
for historical subjects. In 1970, at the age of 22, Weeks directed I, Monster, an
adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, starring the
legendary British horror film actors Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.
Weeks’ interest in literary and historical sources found expression in both                                                                                      the feature and documentary film formats. In 1971-72 he co-wrote and directed                                                                                     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight  for Carlo Ponti/United Artists, based on the                                                                                  medieval poem of the same title (later filmed as Sword of the Valiant  in the early                                                                               1980s, starring Sean Connery, Leigh Lawson, Peter Cushing, John Rhys-Davies,                                                                                  and Miles O’Keeffe). He followed this with Ghost Story  (1973), a horror film set in                                                                           England, but filmed in India, which provided a setting that would reproduce with                                                                                      some historical accuracy early 20th-century Britain. His fascination with historical                                                                                     sites and architecture while working in India led to a 1978-1979 radio talk show                                                                                  on the subject for BBC Radio 4, Decaying Splendours, later published as a book.                                                                               Also in the 1970s, Weeks wrote, produced, and directed an award-winning documentary                                                                      for HTV, Scars, about trench warfare in France during World War I. He continued to make                                                        documentary films (Kipling Country, filmed in Pakistan, A Day in the Life of Canterbury                                                                Cathedral ) and television series, such as The Compleat Period House, for HTV.
Remarkably, in 1973, Weeks purchased and began the daunting task of
restoring the decaying twelfth-century castle, Penhow, in Wales. Penhow Castle
served as his residence for the next 30 years, which reinforced his dedication to
the recovery and preservation of historic times and sites. In 1995, because of the
expertise he had acquired in the restoration of ancient buildings, Weeks was invited
to the Czech Republic to act as a consultant on tourism. He began to immerse himself
in the history and culture of the Czech people, and he subsequently embarked upon a
new pursuit in his professional life. His personal and professional experiences in the
Czech Republic led to the genesis of his novel, Daniela, for which he began research
in 2000 and published in 2003. This 711 page epic novel, which deftly weaves the personal
history of an imaginative Jewish family, and a heroic young outcast named Daniela,
with the devastating events in eastern Europe during World War II, demonstrates Mr.
Weeks’ excellent grasp of history, and his talent for making the reader see well-known
events from an absolutely fresh perspective. Mark Pendergrast, who reviewed the
novel for The Philadelphia Enquirer, asserts: “It’s a great story about an incredible
time. It cries out for a movie. Anybody want to send a copy to Steven Spielberg?”