The Missouri Southern State University English and philosophy department will honor the 300th anniversary of Daniel Defoe's "Robinson Crusoe" with a week's worth of activities in early March.

The novel, which follows a castaway who spends 28 years on a desert island, has never been out of print since it was first published in April 1719, said Amy Gates, an assistant professor of English. It has been credited with inspiring a number of similarly themed works over the past three centuries, including the TV show "Gilligan's Island" and the 2000 film "Cast Away."

"'Robinson Crusoe' has a lot of adventure, which makes it a fun thing to build a week around," Gates said in a statement. "But it's also problematic. (Issues such as) slavery and colonialism complicate the narrative. We want to talk about those issues, not just paper over them."

Robinson Crusoe Week will include:

• A release party for "bordertown," Missouri Southern's annual creative arts magazine, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, March 1, in Room 413 of Spiva Library. Several writers will read from their work. A prompt for the Desert Island Writing Contest will be released around 12:45 p.m. Entries will be accepted from high school students and younger, current MSSU students and the community; they will be due by 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3.

• "Crash Course on Crusoe" at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Joplin Public Library, 1901 E. 20th St. Faculty members Zak Watson, Bill Kumbier, Cliff Toliver and Amy Gates will discuss the novel's basic narrative, themes and excerpts.

• "Robinson Crusoe in Context" at 7 p.m. Monday, March 4, in Plaster Hall's Cornell Auditorium. Faculty members Jonathan Adongo, John Davenport, Jill Greer and Jason Willand will explore some of the facts behind Defoe's fiction.

• Goat petting from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 5, on the campus oval, to be followed by earthenware pottery making from 1 to 3 p.m. The 1997 film "Robinson Crusoe" will be screened at 4 p.m. at Bookhouse Cinema, 715 E. Broadway, to be followed by the 1975 film "Man Friday" at 7 p.m.

• Pottery pit firing at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, on the campus oval, to be followed by a bonfire at approximately 6 p.m.

• "'These particulars over again' — viz. Robinson Crusoe's 'double reflections' and the Art of 18th-Century Life Writing" at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 7, in Cornell Auditorium. The presentation from keynote speaker Shirley Tung, of Kansas State University, will feature interactive audience participation with an exercise in manuscript transcription.

• A gala reception at 6 p.m. Friday, March 8, in the North End Zone Facility. The event will include readings and the announcement of writing contest winners.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public.


Robinson Crusoe Week is the second annual event in Missouri Southern State University's Literature Lives series, which last year celebrated Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein."

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.