2013 Spring Literary Calendar
Learning to write well is an important feature of a Davidson education and a special emphasis in the English Department, where all courses involve instruction in writing. The English Department is pleased to offer a wide array of writing courses, made possible by both permanent staff and the visiting McGee Professor of Creative Writing.
The English Department regularly offers creative writing courses in four genres, in courses taught on the introductory and advanced levels. In introductory courses, English 201 focuses on nonfiction writing, English 202 includes the writing of both poetry and fiction (and is often taught as a course in hybrid forms), while English 203 focuses exclusively on poetry, English 204 on fiction, and English 205 on either screenwriting or playwriting. On the advanced level, English 301, "Writing Nonfiction Prose," is a class in the art of the creative essay, English 303 focuses exclusively on poetry, English 304 on fiction, and English 305 on either screenwriting or playwriting. Junior/Senior seminars in poetry writing and long-form prose (including novel writing) are offered regularly. All creative writing courses are taught either by college faculty or the visiting McGee Professor of Creative Writing. Courses in creative writing at Davidson are workshop-based: they rely upon peer critiques as a fundamental aspect of instruction. Classes are limited to sixteen students at the introductory and intermediate levels, and twelve students on the advanced level, and in Junior/Senior seminars. Permission to enroll in advanced creative writing courses is required prior to registration; the application procedure may include submission of a writing sample. For further information, contact Professor Alan Michael Parker, Director of Creative Writing.
The list of distinguished guests who have visited includes winners of the Pulitzer Prize, MacArthur Foundation "genius grants," and the Nobel Prize. Robert Frost gave a poetry reading at the college. Pulitzer Prize-winner Charles Wright ('56) has visited on numerous occasions; Nobel laureates Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott have both given readings at the college. A.R. Ammons, Maya Angelou, Margaret Atwood, Robert Bly, Seamus Heaney, Reynolds Price, Lee Smith, and William Styron have all come to campus to read and teach. Other visitors have included Dorothy Allison, Russell Banks, Frank Bidart, Robert Olen Butler, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Fred Chappell, The Hon. Martin Clark ('81), Lucille Clifton, Susan Choi, Wanda Coleman, Michael Cunningham, Clyde Edgerton, Jules Feiffer, Alice Fulton, Diana Hume George, Nikki Giovanni, Elizabeth Gilbert, Louise Glück, Garrett Hongo, Heidi Julavits, Norton Juster, Wayne Koestenbaum, Paul Krugman, Catherine Landis ('77), John Lane, Jonathan Lethem, Campbell McGrath, Pablo Medina, Joyce Carol Oates, Jacqueline Osherow, Tim O'Brien, Richard Powers, Annie Proulx, Kevin Prufer, Ishmael Reed, Salman Rushdie, Brian Turner, and Yevgeny Yevtushenko.
The McGee Professorship
Through a gift of Davidson alumnus John McGee, the College hosts a writer in residence for one semester of each academic year. The McGee Professor is an outstanding writer of national stature, whether a poet, fiction writer, playwright, screenwriter, or essayist. Many McGee Professors are accomplished in several of these areas at once. While on campus, McGee Professors teach writing classes, help direct senior honor theses, and contribute to the life of the College through readings and other appearances. McGee Professors have included Dorothy Allison, Susan Allport, Pinckney Benedict, Jill Ciment, Henri Cole, Maria Irene Fornes, Douglas Glover, Diana Hume Georges, Josephine Humphreys, Maxine Kumin, Thomas Mallon, Robert Morgan, Rona Munro, D.A. Powell, Davidson alumna Sheri Reynolds, Stephen Sandy, Therese Svoboda and Al Young.
The 2012-13 McGee Professor of Writing will be Victoria Redel, in residence this Spring, 2013. Victoria Redel is the author of three books of poetry, including Woman Without Umbrella (Four Way Books, 2012) and three books of fiction. Her novel, Loverboy, was awarded the 2001 S. Mariella Gable Novel Award and the 2002 Forward Silver Literary Fiction Prize, was a 2001 Los Angeles Times Best Book, and was adapted for a feature film directed by Kevin Bacon. Redel is on the faculty of Sarah Lawrence College and teaches in the Graduate Writing Program at Columbia University. She holds degrees from Dartmouth and Columbia universities.
In 2011-12 novelist and critic Thomas Mallon served as the McGee Professor of Writing. His seven novels include Henry and Clara, Bandbox, and Fellow Travelers. He has written nonfiction books about plagiarism (Stolen Words), diaries (A Book of One's Own), letters (Yours Ever), and the Kennedy assassination (Mrs. Paine's Garage), as well as two volumes of essays, Rockets and Rodeos and In Fact. His work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Book Review and other publications. While in residence, Mallon gave a public reading from his recent work Watergate: A Novel.
Recent Visiting Writers
Short story writer Edith Pearlman visited Davidson College in April 2012. Having published more than 250 works of short fiction and short nonfiction, Pearlman met with students and read from her work to a captive audience in Sloan Music Center.
Anthony S. Abbott is the Charles A. Dana Professor of English Emeritus at Davidson College, where he taught from 1964 to 2001. He is the author of six books of poetry, including the newly published collection, If Words Could Save Us, and two novels, including Leaving Maggie Hope, which received the Novello Festival Press Award.
Cartoonist GB Tran's graphic memoir, VIETNAMERICA, is a depiction of his family's survival and escape during the Vietnam War and their reinvention in its aftermath as refugees living in the United States. He received the 2011 Gregory Millard Fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Tran visited Davidson College in 2011 and returns for an encore presentation September 18, 2012; VIETNAMERICA was chosen as the Common Reading selection for the class of 2016.
Award-winning author Tobias Wolff came to Davidson in September 2010. His novel Old Schoolwas assigned as the common reading for incoming students in the class of 2013. The novel - a mediation on honor, integrity, plagiarism, and literature - fit precisely the college's 100th anniversary of its honor code and 50th anniversary of the student-run honor council. Wolff is the author of many books including This Boy's Life; he teaches at Stanford University.
The Literary Life at Davidson College
The Conarroe Lecture
The Conarroe Lecture brings contemporary writers to Davidson to lecture, read from their work, and interact with students. Three former lecturers, with Joel Conarroe, include Salman Rushdie, Annie Proulx, and Michael Ondaatje.
Poet and critic Edward Hirsch gave the Joel A. Conarroe lecture on March 13, 2012 at 8:00 pm in the Duke Family Performance Hall. Author of eight collections of poetry, including The Living Fire: New and Selected Poems, and four prose works, Hirsch has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He taught in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Houston for seventeen years and now serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States, W. S. Merwin delivered the 2010-11 Joel A. Conarroe Lecture on May 2 in the Duke Family Performance Hall. The author of sixteen collections of poems, essays on environmental and literary ideas, and a memoir - and the translator of Dante, Follain, Porchia and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight- Merwin has received numerous awards, including the National Book Award, the Bollingen Prize and the Tanning Prize. He lives, writes and gardens on the island of Maui.
Margaret Atwood delivered the 2009-10 Joel A. Conarroe Lecture on February 25 at 8:00 pm in Duke Family Performance Hall. Atwood is the prizewinning author of The Year of the Flood, The Handmaid's Tale and The Blind Assassin. Considered a giant of modern literature, her work has been translated into over thirty languages and studied by colleges and universities around the world. Atwood addressed a wide-range of issues relating to her work, modern literature, and the creative process.
The 2008-09 Joel A. Conarroe Lecture was given by Russell Banks on January 26 at 8:00 pm in Duke Family Performance Hall. Banks has written thirteen books of fiction, including The Sweet Hereafter, Affliction, and most recently, The Reserve. A two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, Banks is the founder and president of Cities of Refuge, North America, and the recipient of numerous distinguished awards and prizes.
Joel A. Conarroe Lecturer Michael Chabon visited Davidson College in February 2008. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist has authored many works including The Yiddish Policemen's Union, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, and Wonder Boys, made into a critically acclaimed film starring Michael Douglas and Tobey McGuire.
The Reynolds Lecture
A columnist for the New York Times since 2001, Nicholas Kristof won two Pulitzer prizes for journalism. Recently, he co-authored Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity World-Wide with partner Sheryl WuDunn. He discusses Half the Sky, which is more than a book but a social movement and documentary airing in October 2012 on PBS, during his delivery of the Reynolds Lecture on December 3, 2012 in the Duke Family Performance Hall at 7:30 pm; tickets are free but required.
War correspondent Sebastian Junger delivered the 2011-12 Reynolds Lecture on September 20, 2011 in the Duke Family Performance Hall. Junger is the internationally acclaimed, bestselling author of The Perfect Storm, as well as A Death in Belmont and Fire. A graduate of Wesleyan University, Junger works as a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a contributor to ABC News. He has covered major international news stories in Liberia, Sierra Leone and around the globe.
The 2010-11 Reynolds Lecturer was Dominican-American writer JunotDíaz, who offered an irreverent perspective on the lives of Latin American immigrants and their children. Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for the The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. He teaches at M.I.T.
Past Reynolds Lecturers have included Elizabeth Gilbert and Catherine Gilbert Murdock, Ann Deveare Smith, Zadie Smith, Derek Walcott, and Thomas Wolfe. In 2008, Nobel Laureate Walcott met with students during two Q&A sessions and discussed his literary works and paintings.
The English Department sponsors three yearly contests for student writers, each judged by an illustrious visiting writer. Poet, food writer, and translator Christopher Bakken will judge this year's R. Windley Hall and Charles E. Lloyd awards in writing and will give a reading of his work on March 28, 2013. Novelist and nonfiction writer Randall Kenan will select the Vereen Bell winners and give a public reading on April 11, 2013. Both programs will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the C. Shaw Smith 900 Room of the College Union and are be free and open to the public.
The Vereen Bell Memorial Award in Creative Writing
The Vereen Bell Memorial Award in Creative Writing is given annually to a member of the senior, junior, or sophomore class who has done the best work in fiction, poetry, or drama. The award is given in memory of Vereen Bell of the Class of 1932, a promising and successful young novelist and short-story writer who gave his life for his country in the second battle of the Phillipine Sea during World War II.
The R. Windley Hall Award for First-Year Writing
The R. Windley Hall Writing Award is presented to the member of the first-year class at Davidson College who submits the best piece of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction prose. The award is given by his family and friends in memory of R. Windley Hall, a graduate student of the Class of 1963 whose life was cut short on January 18, 1967, while he was a graduate student at Vanderbilt University.
The Charles E. Lloyd Award for Nonfiction
The Charles E. Lloyd Writing Award is given to a member of the sophomore, junior, or senior class for excellence in the field of nonfiction. Essays submitted for the award may include both formal, scholarly essays and personal essays. The award is given in memory of Professor Charles E. Lloyd, Professor of English at Davidson for many years and twice coach of championship College Quiz Bowl Teams.
Opportunities for students to write for student publications abound. The annual creative writing magazine, Hobart Park, is student-run and edited, as are the student newspaper, The Davidsonian, and the alternative magazine, Libertas.
Informal writing groups, workshops, and salons are frequent, and student-run. Creative writers enjoy a dynamic and supportive community among their peers on campus.