Thank you to all of the conference attendants for helping to make our second conference a huge success! 


Still Lost in the Cosmos: Walker Percy & the 21st Century


cosmos cover


The Walker Percy Center's Second Conference: October 11-13, 2013

Inspired by Walker Percy’s Lost in the Cosmos, the second biennial Walker Percy Conference seeks to explore the themes and issues generated by Percy’s lively analysis of the modern condition. In The Chronicle of Higher Education, Tom Bartlett said of the book: " indescribable concoction of hard facts and wild imagination, a parody of self-help books (sort of), a philosophy textbook (kind of), and a collection of short stories, quizzes, diagrams, thought experiments, mathematical formulas, made-up dialogue, ridiculously long chapter titles, and a few David Foster Wallace-worthy footnotes." 

Walker Percy's ties to Loyola include his brief stint on the faculty in the 1970s. He taught writing courses and served as a contributing editor to the New Orleans Review, where he discovered the manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole, and then helped to excerpt it for Loyola’s publication in the New Orleans Review. 

The Conference takes place on the campus of Loyola University, located in the Uptown area of New Orleans directly across from Audubon Park. The conference is open to the public. October is peak tourist season in New Orleans, so please make your hotel reservation early.  Loyola recommends these hotels.  Please also enjoy the wonderful food New Orleans has to offer.  Zagat recommends these restaurants in the area. Be sure to make your dinner reservations early.

Schedule of Conference panels

Panelists' biographies

Keynote Address by Paul Elie on Friday, October 11 at 6 p.m. in the Danna Center, Audubon Room. A reception will precede the keynote address. Among other things, Mr. Elie is the author of The Life You Save May Be Your Own: An American Pilgrimage, a biography of four American Catholic writers: Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk; Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker; Flannery O'Connor, a "Christ-haunted" Catholic; and Walker Percy, a doctor who wrote fiction and philosophy. 

A one-person performance by Tom Key of Lost in the Cosmos will take place on Saturday, October 12 at 6 pm in Nunemaker Auditorium, Monroe Hall, Loyola Campus. For Theatrical Outfit, Key has adapted two Walker Percy books, The National Book Award Winning Novel, The Moviegoer (2001, “A comic gem” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution); and Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Selp-Help Seminar (1996, “An hilarious tour de force” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution). Tom Key is best known for his performance of Cotton Patch Gospel, a one-person play inspired by Dr. Clarence Jordan’s paraphrase of the New Testament who set the story of Jesus in the American South. Tickets to Tom Key Gets Lost may be purchased here or at the door.

St. Joseph Abbey, Walker Percy’s Spiritual Home:  There will be an optional trip on Sunday, October 13 to St. Joseph Abbey in Covington (about an hour and a half from New Orleans) where Percy often visited and is now buried. The trip will include Mass for those who wish to attend, and a visit to Percy’s grave. There will be an additional fee of $25 for transportation costs. The bus will leave Loyola at 8:30 a.m. and it will return to Loyola at 2:30 p.m. A box lunch will be provided. *This trip is for panelists only unless room opens up on the bus. An announcement will be made in such a case.

Still lost? Check out NPR's An Existential Guide For When You're Really 'Lost'