Creepy Conference

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 XV

October 24, 2023

Theme: Are they or aren't they? Is Fact Creepier than Fiction? Ashley Messner "Strange Science or Science Fiction?" Alexander Vignovich "The Philadelphia Experiment" Josephine Leslie "The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe" Haedyn Brewer "The True Legend of the Campawat Tiger and the Hunt for the Earth's Deadliest Beast" Kait Lore "Analog Horror"

Creepy Conference XIV

October 25, 2022

Theme: Unnatural Death Ashley Messner "Mutter Museum: What Happens to Bodies After Death" Mackenzie Hill "Mel's Curiosity Shop" Joseph Chaney, Jackson Enterline, Joshua Milteer "Spooky Stuff" [film] Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre "Scary Larry" [Film] Stephen Chalmers "Crime of the Century" [Art Installation and Gallery Tour]

Creepy Conference XIII

October 26, 2021

Theme: Creative Horror Carly Kaminski "The Italian Horror Film, Suspira" Natalie Villeflor "It Comes in Threes" [Short Story] Sonu Babu "Preparing for Rain" [Short Story] Mackenzie Hill "Let's Go, Fighting Vikings" [Short Story] Dr. Hyla Willis "SmartMom Surveillance and Sibling Rivalry In Vitro: Creepy Comparisons between Dystopian Cyberfeminist Art and the Real-World Human Fertility Industry

Creepy Conference XII

October 29, 2019

Panel 1 - Horror and Sudden Death Isabella Sierra "Deadly Disney" Emily Kerry "The Wrecked Romance" Joshua Bednar "Gozu: The Scariest Story that May Never Have Been Told" Dr. John Lawson "The Condemned" [short story]

Panel 2 - Hell is Other People Jordan Redinger "Copycat Crimes of the Cinema" Soundharjya "Sonu" Babu "Cult Leaders and Groupthink" Dr. Soren Fanning "UFOs: What's Debunked and What's Still Unknown"

Creepy Conference XI

October 30, 2018

Theme - Real-Life Horrors Olivia Campbell "(A Few of) the Horrific Deaths at the Happiest Place on Earth" Jenna Moses "Real-Life Monsters: How the Butcher of Plainfield Inspired Horror Movies" Jordan Redinger "Scream and the Gainesville Ripper" Jennifer Beno-Young "300 Years of American Folklore: The Salem Witch Trials" Barbara Burgess-Lefebvre and John Lawson "Patrimony - A One-Act Play" with Johnna Burgess-Lefebvre and Brandon Pierce.

Creepy Conference X

October 24, 2017

Panel 1 - American Gothic: the Horror of Everyday Life
Matt Fazio "Vacant Malls: The Modern-Day Graveyards"
Micki Brant "Lobotomies and their Lasting Impact"
Corie Bres "John Wayne Gacy: Killer Clown"
Kenya Johns "It: Parent and Child Relationships"

Panel 2 - Monsters in Real Life
Tyler Crago "A History of Vampirism"
Satalia Rickman "The Theme of Obeah: The Torment of Duppies"
Professor Soren Fanning "Royal Horrors"

Creepy Conference IX

October 26, 2016
Wheatley Center

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
Wheatley Center

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
Wheatley Center

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 
Guest Presenter: 
Rooney Scholar and Filmmaker: Luca Guardelbascio "Hitchcock"

English faculty award: Dominic Flamini and Taleah Scott

Creepy Conference VI

October 29, 2013
Sewall Center

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"
Faculty Presenter:
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
Guest Presenter
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
Sewall Center

Panel #1
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
Faculty presenter
Professor Jim Vincent: Creepy Ireland

English faculty award: Jordan Neusch and Sara Gunkel

Creepy Conference IV

October 25, 2011
Sewall Center

Panel #1
Nikki Weis: Narrative of the Supernatural --Cornish Legends
Sara Gunkel:  Etymology of the Harry Potter Characters
Faculty presenter:
Dr. Gavin Buxton: Parapsychology and Telepathy

Panel #2
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
Sewall Center

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
Sewall Center

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
Sewall Center

Dr. Karshner: Head binding practices among early peoples
Dr. Grant: Vampires in the twilight series
Dr. Pamboukian: Taboo names in the Harry Potter series