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Jules Verne devotees do not have to travel 20,000 leagues underwater or traverse outer space to discuss and revel in the works of the popular French author.

Old Dominion University will be the host site for the North American Jules Verne Society conference May 25-28. The event will bring together international scholars and translators, including experts from the humanities as well as specialists from NASA, the Cousteau Society and the French Navy. The keynote speaker will be Frederic Castel of the European Space Agency, who will present his work on the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle) Spaceship, the Jules Verne. ODU President Roseann Runte and Provost Thomas Isenhour will also lead a pluri-disciplinary session on Verne's works.

Presentations will address both fiction and science, in keeping with Verne's literary explorations of space, the oceans and the earth. "Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to the truth," Verne once wrote. "Anything one man can imagine, other men can make real."

Verne is considered the founding father of science fiction. His major works were written by 1880. Verne's stories, enjoyed by both adolescents and adults, caught the enterprising spirit of the 19th century, with its uncritical fascination about scientific progress and inventions.

His works were often written in the form of a travel book. He took readers on a voyage into space in "From the Earth to the Moon" (1865) and in the opposite direction in "A Journey to the Center of the Earth" (1864). Many of Verne's ideas have been hailed as prophetic. Among his best-known books are the classic adventure stories "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea" (1870) and "Around the World in Eighty Days" (1873).

The following meetings on Friday, May 26, will be held in Old Dominion University's Perry Library, room 151 (unless otherwise noted). The day's activities run from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Highlights include:
• "The Other Verne Trilogy," presented by Jean-Michel Margot;
• "The Anarchist at the End of the World," presented by Julia Mastro, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill;
• "André Breton and Jules Verne," presented by Nicolas Saucy, University of Geneva;
• "Fathers and Sons: Letters of Alexandre Chatrian and Jules Verne," presented by Stephen Foster (foreign languages and literatures), Old Dominion University;
• Keynote presentation: "The ATV Jules Verne Spaceship," presented by Fréderic Castel of the European Space Agency, followed by a 26-minute documentary;
• "From the Earth to the Moon: Jules Verne and NASA," presented by Keith Henry and Ray P. Turcotte, NASA; and
• "A Pluri-Disciplinary Approach to L'Ile Mystérieuse," presented by ODU's Roseann Runte (foreign languages and literatures), Thomas Isenhour (chemistry and biochemistry) and Lytton Musselman (biological sciences).

The Friends of the Old Dominion University Library are hosting a reception for the participants from 5-6 p.m. in Perry Library. A free concert will begin at 8 p.m. on the Chrysler Museum lawn, Norfolk, complete with fireworks and music by Elgar, Williams, Hayden and Handel.

Among the talks scheduled for Saturday, May 27, are:
• "The FS Jules Verne and Why It Is a Tradition in the French Navy," presented by Capt. Christian Canova, French Navy; and
• "Captain Cousteau's Jules Verne-like Adventures," presented by Clark Lee Merriam, Jacques Cousteau Society (USA).

The conference is sponsored by Vandeventer Black LLP, ODU's Frank Batten College of Engineering and Technology, Old Dominion University, Friends of the Old Dominion University Library, Broad Street Books, Norfolk Yacht and Country Club and Linda Hyatt Wilson.

For more information visit www.najvs.org/mindex/htm or call Peter Schulman, ODU associate professor of foreign languages and literatures, at 683-3323.

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