The Creepy Conference is an annual, Gothic-themed event hosted by the department of English and the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta.
It began as an informal gathering hosted by Dr. Grant, Dr. Karshner and Dr. Pamboukian during which students presented short papers on various creepy topics. Over the past decade, it has grown into a highly competitive conference drawing dozens of proposals from all over Western Pennsylvania.
Student presenters have come from every school at Robert Morris University and from nearby chapters of Sigma Tau Delta presenters. In addition, several RMU faculty and honored guest presenters have contributed to this creepy and informative event.
The Creepy Conference is usually held near Halloween, although the call for paper proposals goes out to all students in mid-September. Presentations have ranged from dramatic readings of a creepy story or a dramatic scene to scaly photo exhibits to informative talks about haunted locations (from right here in Western Pennsylvania to Gettysburg, Ireland and Japan), legendary crimes and criminals, and many supernatural beings (originating in films, tv, folkore and video games). Other presenters have debunked supernatural phenomenon by exposing the psychological reactions and perceptive fallacies behind nightmares, hauntings and ESP.
Each year, the English faculty award a prize to the student paper that best captures the event's creepy but informative spirit.
- Past Conferences
Creepy Conference IX
October 26, 2016
Panel #1: Did you see that? Ghosts, Hauntings and Possession
Corie Bres "The Truth Behind "The Conjuring"
Savannah Buhite "The Ghosts of Aircraft: Apparitions at 35000 ft"
Denni Claycomb "Pediophobia: Fear of Dolls...Did it just move?" (Sigma presenter)
Mary Cooper "What are you so afraid of?" (Sigma presenter)
Panel #2: Body Parts: It Can Happen to YOU
Julia Balzano "The Wendigo: Heart of Ice"
Micki Brant "Phantom Limb"
Dr. Soren Fanning "Extreme Measures: The Purpose of Torture throughout History" (Faculty presenter)
New Faculty AND Audience Award Winners: Savannah Buhite and Julia Balzano
Creepy Conference VIII
October 28, 2015
Panel #1: Places of Horror
Denni Claycomb: Fayette Country Folklore: The Legends of Betty Knox and Quaker Church
(Sigma Tau Delta guest presenter)
Matt Schibler: Aokigahara: The Suicide Forest
Savanah Buhite: Cryptozoology 101: Cryptids of Pittsburgh
Taylar McCoy: Parasomnia
Panel #2: Horrible Artwork
"Dr." Katie Bell: The Russian Sleep Experiment
Uykihi Suzuki: The Ugly Side of Beauty
Faculty Presenter: Dr. S Pamboukian: Magic Words/Magic World: Harry Potter and Medieval Medicine
English faculty award: Matt Schibler and Taylar McCoy
Creepy Conference VII
October 29, 2014
Panel #1: Nightmare or Reality: Do we just want to believe?
Tanner Sebastian: Jack the Ripper
Carrie Hook: Ghostly Innocence: Children and the Supernatural
Taleah Scott: Pareidolia
James Fetterman: Kecksburg: Our Local UFO Incident
Panel #2: Making Horror Visible: Filmmaking and the Gothic
Ashley Jones: Edgar Allen Poe's Usher: Gothic Story, Psychological Thriller (Sigma Tau Delta guest presenter)
Dominic Flamini: Get Ready for Freddy: An Analysis of Five Nights at Freddy's
Rooney Scholar and Filmmaker: Luca Guardelbascio "Hitchcock"
English faculty award: Dominic Flamini and Taleah Scott
Creepy Conference VI
October 29, 2013
Panel #1: Are we paranoid? Or, are they really out to get us? The Perception of Fear in Modern Society
Tanner Sebastian: Reflections of Horror: The Cultural Perceptions of Mirrors
Savanah Buhite: Dr. Turich's Nerve Patch
James Fetterman "Aliens and UFO's"
Dr. Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre (with Bennett Lefebvre) A Scene from MacBeth
Panel #2 The Truth Is Our There; is it what we think? A skeptical look at horror.
Luke Carter: Why a Zombie Apocalypse would actually be really lame
Kyra Mayo and Prof. John Locke: Disney's Magical Haunted Mansion
Author of Remember Me: Civil War Letters Home from a Hospital Steward, 1862-1864 Alan West "Death and Dying in the Civil War"
English faculty award: Tanner Sebastian and Luke Carter
Creepy Conference V
October 23, 2012
Sara Gunkel: Is Dracula "coming out" of the coffin?
Jordan Neusch: Zombies: A look at the undead
Marulla Quirk: Peter und der Malleus
James Fetterman: The Slender Man: A Modern Monster
Catherine Lamm: Lunacy in Dracula
Professor Jim Vincent: Creepy Ireland
English faculty award: Jordan Neusch and Sara Gunkel
Creepy Conference IV
October 25, 2011
Nikki Weis: Narrative of the Supernatural --Cornish Legends
Sara Gunkel: Etymology of the Harry Potter Characters
Dr. Gavin Buxton: Parapsychology and Telepathy
Kenya Johns: The Siren Lights Photo Series
Marulla Quirk Proverbs 16.25
Rooney Scholar and filmmaker Luca Guadalbascio presents his film "Dimorfobia" and a talk entitled "I grew up on the Twilight Zone"
English faculty award: Kenya Johns and Sara Gunkel
Creepy Conference III
October 27, 2010
Panel #1: Ghosts, Demons and Banshees: Creepy Myth and Folkore
Joe Ripple: Exorcism
Gina O'Brien: Irish myth and folklore
Lauren Kelley: Haunted Gettysburg
Creepy Clips: A multimedia presentation:
Short films including: Andrew Androna "National Aviary"; Abby Proada "The Legend of the House of Ridge Avenue"; Ashten Farah "The Tale of Ruben's Grave"; Shane Spirik "Street Light Interference"
Panel #2: From Hell or From Louisiana: Monsters in Literature and Film
Lauren Donahue: Friends and Frankenstein
Sara Gunkel: Vampires on Film
Heather Lowery: Judas: the first vampire?
Logan Williams: Make your own zombie
English faculty award: Gina O'Brien, Lauren Kelley, and Lauren Donohue
Creepy Conference II
November 4, 2009
Panel #1 Capacabra to Bloody Mary: Monsters in Pop Culture
Sara Gunkel: They Mythology of the Series Supernatural
Jessica Weary: Fate Worse than Death: Homosexual Vampires
Zak Wisiniowski: Interpretations of the Mothman Phenomena
Christine Gibson: The Rhetoric of Chupacabra folklore
Panel #2: Do Leprechauns ride UFO's? Spooky folklore
Patrick Loper: Alien Involvement in Early Society
Elizabeth Mason: Out of the Past: UFOs in early Hindu Literature
Dawn Savage: Feral Children in Reality and Folklore
Kristen Rea: Legends, Ghosts and Monsters in Jane Eyre
English faculty award: Kristen Rea, Christine Gibson, Elizabeth Mason
Creepy Conference I
October 20, 2008
Dr. Karshner: Head binding practices among early peoples
Dr. Grant: Vampires in the twilight series
Dr. Pamboukian: Taboo names in the Harry Potter series