October Unhappy Hour makes its spooky return to Calvin

The English department’s annual October Unhappy Hour—“a night of frightening tales, sublime verse and succulent treats”— returned to the East Lobby of the CFAC on Oct. 29.

The event began in the fall of 2008 when Sarah Hooker, an English major, decided to dress in costume with a few of her friends and read selections from Edgar Allan Poe in the library. Several professors then got involved, creating an annual event held in the library for the first few years before transitioning to the CFAC’s east lobby, according to professor Engbers.

Each year students and staff gather with or without costume to celebrate literary spookiness with readings from any genre,  including Greek tragedies, horror stories, contemporary fiction and even original writings.

This year, the lobby lights were dimmed at 8 p.m. as students and staff gathered in a semicircle around the central podium to enjoy treats and refreshments while listening to readers.

Five students and three faculty members read from writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Bill Watterson and even C.S. Lewis.

Sophomore Bastian Bouman read “A Nauseous Nocturne” by Bill Watterson. “I thought it fit well with the light-heartedly spooky theme of the night,” he said.

Professor Engbers, who was dressed in a steampunk outfit complete with a curved-nosed plague doctor mask, believes this event fills an unspoken need for English majors. “I think a lot of English majors, like me, tend to be rather quiet and bookish in real life, and costumes give them license to be expressive and outrageous,” he said. “As a professor, I think the event is important because it’s one of the few times when many people will experience literature out loud and in public … Sound is an important aspect of language, though, even written language. This event gives people access to that aspect of literature.”

First-year student Marissa Hielkema attended the event and appreciated the format of the night. “A lot of people really got into the costumes,” she said. “I was impressed. And the readings were tastefully picked out for the occasion.”

Including Hielkema, approximately 50 people congregated for this year’s October Unhappy Hour, mostly from the English department. The event is expected to continue next year in its festive tradition.