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Press Releases

Friday, October 17, 2003

SU's Hansen Keynotes Buster Keaton Festival

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University philosophy major Michael Christopher Hansen recently keynoted the 11th annual Buster Keaton Celebration in Iola, KS, near Keaton’s hometown of Piqua. Hansen spoke on "Silence and Comedy: Why Buster Keaton Matters More Today than Ever."

Hansen was invited to attend, representing the current generation of students interested in Keaton's comedy.

In his speech, Hansen called Keaton “the ultimate adolescent,” because his film characters overcome obstacles by trial and error and never through dishonesty or shortcuts.

He said today’s generation could learn a lot from Keaton’s characters.

"The younger generation is, of course, each and every one an adolescent who is faced with crucial decisions about who they are and how they should act," he said. "Any crucial decision is a scary decision, so if there is an easy way out, many will take it. But they should remember: ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.'"

According to the Iola Register, “people from all generations were moved by message.”

Dr. Frank Scheide, associate professor in the Communication Department of the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, and leader of the panel “The Social Commentary of Buster Keaton,” echoed those sentiments.

“He was, without a doubt, one of the best—perhaps the best—speaker we had this year,” he said.

Hansen's talk began as a presentation in Dr. Jim Welsh's Film History class at SU this spring. Welsh was so impressed that he wrote to the Keaton Committee in Iola to recommend Hansen for the fall proceedings.

Welsh traveled to Kansas to introduce the SU student to an audience of several hundred Keaton fans at the festival.  Academic luminaries on the program with Hansen included Scheide; Andrew Horton, director of film and video studies at the University of Oklahoma; John Tibbetts of the University of Kansas; and professional mime Dan Kamin, a festival regular from Pittsburgh, PA.

At the opening Keaton banquet, Hansen earned a perfect score on the Keaton trivia quiz, besting all persent including David MacLeod, founder of the “Blinking Buzzards” Keaton fan club in Britain.

Hansen's parents reside in Ocean City, MD.

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