Readings, Lectures and Events / School of Letters Readings and Lectures

Every summer, the School of Letters invites writers, poets, publishers and scholars to speak each week that the program is in session. All readings and lectures take place at Gailor Auditorium unless otherwise noted, and a reception usually follows upstairs in the atrium. The public is welcome. Events held outside of Sewanee are also listed here.

Previous events are listed here.


June 5, 2019 at 4:30 pm

“Poetry at the Edge of Silence”: A lecture with Dr. Jennifer Michael

Please kick off the Summer 2019 School of Letters Reading and Lecture Series with a lecture entitled "Poetry at the Edge of Silence" with poet and professor Dr. Jennifer Michael on Wednesday, June 5, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium.

Dr. Michael is a Professor of English at Sewanee and Chair of the English Department. She holds degrees from Sewanee, Oxford, and Northwestern. Her teaching includes upper-level courses in late eighteenth-century and Romantic literature, a seminar on William Blake, and a Studies in Poetry course focusing on "Poetry, Nature, and Contemplation.”

After graduating from Sewanee, Dr. Michael proceeded to Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship and then to Northwestern University where she completed her doctorate. Her dissertation on William Blake developed into her first book, Blake and the City (Bucknell University Press, 2006). She was honored to return to teach at her first alma mater in 1995. While her teaching and research interests tend to focus on late eighteenth-century and Romantic poetry, her current project on poetry and silence is heavily informed by her Studies in Poetry course, "Apprehensions of the Sacred." She is working on a book to be entitled Poetry at the Edge of Silence.

Her poems have appeared in Mezzo CamminThe Unprecedented Review3 Elements Review, and the Cumberland River Review, among others. Finishing Line Press will be publishing her chapbook of poems, Let Me Let Go.

Lecture with DR. JENNIFER MICHAEL on WEDNESDAY, June 5, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium.




June 7, 2019

American Shakespeare Center Thursday Workshop and Friday "Informance" with scenes from The Merchant of Venice

You are invited to join the School of Letters for two very special events with the American Shakespeare Center.

Thursday June 6
6 - 8 PM Gailor Auditorium
WORKSHOP What Shakespeare's Actors Know: An inside look at the rehearsal and performance techniques in Shakespeare's Theatres

Friday June 7
8 PM Gailor Auditorium 
INFORMANCE Scenes from The Merchant of Venice

As part of a new leadership consortium with the University, the American Shakespeare Center will spend one week with Dr. Ross MacDonald's School of Letter's Shakespeare class, engaging The Merchant of Venice, one of the well-known "problem plays," through a series of exercises intended to translate Shakespeare from the page to the stage.  At the week's end, on Friday, June 7, 2019, the ASC players, in collaboration with students from MacDonald's class, will present a public performance of various scenes from the play.  Alumni, friends, and the community are invited to join us that evening at 8:00 p.m. in Gailor Auditorium.

For more information about the collaboration with the American Shakespeare Center, please see our announcement:

Workshop, What Shakespeare's Actors Know: An inside look at the rehearsal and performance techniques in Shakespeare's Theatres, June 6, at 6 pm in Gailor Auditorium.

"Informance" Scenes from The Merchant of Venice, June 7, at 8:00 pm in Gailor Auditorium.





June 12, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Faculty Reading and Conversation with Meera Subramanian

Please join us for a reading by Meera Subramanian and a conversation on environmental writing on Wednesday, June 12 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium, sponsored in conjunction with the Friends of duPont Library.

Meera is an award-winning independent journalist whose work has been published in national and international publications including The New York Times,  the, Nature, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Orion, where she serves as a contributing editor. Her book A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka, published by PublicAffairs in 2015, was short-listed for the 2016 Orion Book Award. Through her work, she has explored the disappearance of India’s vultures, questioned the “Good Anthropocene,” sought out fragile shorelines, and investigated perceptions of climate change among conservative Americans. Her essays have been anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing, as well as multiple editions of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. She was an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow (2016-17) and Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellow (2013-14) and earned an MA in Journalism from New York University. She taught Nonfiction at the School of Letters in 2017. Based in Cape Cod, you can find more information about Meera and her work at and @meeratweets.

Reading and conversation with MEERA SUBRAMANIAN on WEDNESDAY, June 12, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium. Co-sponsored with the Friends of duPont Library.




June 19, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Faculty reading with poet Tiana Clark

Please join us for a poetry reading from faculty member Tiana Clark on Wednesday, June 19, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. A reception will follow. 

Tiana is the author of the poetry collection I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. She is the winner of a 2019 Pushcart Prize, as well as the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Best New Poets 2015, Lenny Letter, and elsewhere. She was the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Clark is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. Most recently, she was awarded a 2019 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Reading with TIANA CLARK on WEDNESDAY, June 19, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium.




June 26, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Faculty Reading with Lee Conell and Chris Bachelder

You are invited to a joint reading by our fiction faculty, Lee Conell and Chris Bachelder, on Wednesday, June 26 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium.

Lee is the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and an American Fiction Award. Her short fiction has appeared in the Oxford American, the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Sewanee Review, Memorious, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She has received creative writing fellowships from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vanderbilt University, and the Yiddish Book Center. She has taught writing at Vanderbilt University, SUNY New Paltz, the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, and the Nashville Public Library.

Chris is the author of the novels The Throwback Special, Abbott Awaits, U.S.!, Bear v. Shark, and Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography. His short fiction and essays have appeared in a number of magazines and journals, including The Paris Review, Harper's, McSweeney's, The Believer, The Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Mother Jones, The Cincinnati Review, and New Stories from the South. His novel Abbott Awaits was published in 2011. His acclaimed 2016 novel, The Throwback Special, was a finalist for the National Book Award. The book follows 22 men who meet each year to reenact the 1985 Joe Theismann football injury. Bachelder was awarded the prestigious Terry Southern Prize in 2016. He taught at New Mexico State, Colorado College, and the University of Massachusetts before joining the Creative Writing faculty of the University of Cincinnati in 2011.

Reading with LEE CONELL and CHRIS BACHELDER on WEDNESDAY, June 26 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium.




July 3, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Poetry Reading with 2019 John Grammer Fellow Jessica Jacobs

Please join us for a reading with Jessica Jacobs, the 2019 John Grammer Fellow at the School of Letters. Made possible by a generous donation from the Blake & Bailey Family Fund, the award brings a noted writer or scholar to Sewanee for an extended visit each summer during the School’s academic term.

Jessica is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, forthcoming from Four Way Books in March 2019. The memoir-in-poems focuses on coming of age in Florida and the complexities and joys of early marriage between Jacobs and her wife, fellow poet Nickole Brown. Ada Limón, author of Bright Dead Things, notes that “All great love stories deserve to be written down for history’s sake. With Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, Jessica Jacobs gives us an intimate, sensual, desirous book full of real life hardships and an epic love story of surrender and survival. Rooted in landscape and written with a rich lyrical line, these gorgeous poems pay necessary homage to what truly matters.”

Jessica’s debut collection, Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, was winner of the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Meticulously researched and richly imagined, these vibrant personal poems push past O’Keeffe’s legend to tell the artist’s story in her own voice. Interwoven throughout are lyric prose meditations from the poet’s month spent alone in a primitive desert cabin. A narrative-driven collection that reads like a novel, this book delves into issues of creativity, feminism, and relationships, while allowing a reader to travel to turn-of-the last century New York City; the wilds of Canyon, TX; and the New Mexico high desert of the 1930s and today.

Jessica's poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Crazyhorse, Guernica, and The Missouri Review. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, and professor, and serves as the Associate Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, in Asheville, North Carolina with their dogs.

Reading with JESSICA JACOBS on WEDNESDAY, July 3, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium.




July 10, 2019 at 4:30 pm

2019 MA & MFA Candidate Reading

Wednesday, July 10 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium.