Readings, Lectures and Events / Upcoming

Every summer the School of Letters invites writers, poets, publishers and scholars to speak each week that school 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.


June 10, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Holly Goddard Jones

Holly Goddard Jones’s fiction has appeared in such journals as The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, Tinhouse, and The Gettysburg Review and been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Best American Mystery Stories. Her first book, the story collection Girl Trouble, was published by Harper Perennial in 2009, to enthusiastic acclaim from oracles as diverse as Erin McGraw and O magazine. Her debut novel, The Next Time You See Me, was released in 2013. A graduate of the University of Kentucky and the Ohio State University, she has taught at Denison University and Murray State University and now serves as Assistant Professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Among her honors are the Peter Taylor Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She is teaching a workshop in fiction at the School of Letters this summer. To learn more visit

Wednesday, June 10, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.




June 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm

From Table to Page: Panel on Food Writing

With Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams, and Kevin West

Alice Randall is the author of the novels The Wind Done Gone, Pushkin and the Queen of Spades, Rebel Yell, and Ada’s Rules—and of several successful Country songs, including the number one hit “XXX’s and OOO’s.”  At Vanderbilt University, where she is Writer in Residence, she teaches a class called “Soul Food, in Text, as Text.” Most recently she is the co-author, with her daughter Caroline Randall Williams, of Soul Food Love: Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family.
Caroline Randall Williams was chosen by Southern Living as one of “50 People Changing the South in 2015” for her healthy soul food remix, Soul Food Love, co-authored with her mother, Alice Randall.  A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Mississippi, Williams will soon take up her post as Visiting Assistant Professor of English at West Virginia University.  Her first collaboration with her mother, The Diary of B.B. Bright, Possible Princess, won the Phillis Wehatley prize and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award.  She owns more than 1,000 cookbooks. 

Kevin West is the author of Saving the Season: A Cook's Guide to Canning, Pickling and Preserving, praised by John Jeremiah Sullivan as “part cookbook, part manifesto, and part crypto-memoir… literate and lyrical and fanatically well researched.” A graduate of Sewanee, West has worked at Vogue magazine and as both West Coast and Paris editor of W. He is now creative director of Grand Central Market, a historic food hall in downtown Los Angeles, which was recognized in 2014 as one of Bon Appetit's Best New Restaurants in America. His new book, Truffle Boy, about the specialty food business, which is due out in 2016.

Wednesday, July 17, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium.




June 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Harrison Scott Key: The World's Largest Man

Harrison Scott Key is the author of The World’s Largest Man, a memoir of growing up as the sensitive and bookish son of a Mississippi father who “taught us many things: how to fight, how to work, how to cheat, how to pray to Jesus about it, how to kill things with guns and knives and also, if necessary, with hammers." Key is the resident humorist at Oxford American and has also published in Outside Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Image, and Best American Travel Writing.  The versatile author has also performed at comedy venues around the U.S.; he holds both a Ph.D. in theatre and an M.F.A. in Nonfiction Writing, a subject he teaches at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  Reviewers have placed his work in the tradition of Southern humor that includes Roy Blount, David Sedaris, and Mark Twain.  The writer Neil White calls him “the funniest damn writer I’ve come across in a long time.  His stories are raw and unfiltered and he writes about the sort of things a Southern boy’s Mama told him never to mention—the stuff worth writing about.”

Wednesday, July 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. 




July 1, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Diane Thiel











Diane Thiel is the author of eight books of poetry, nonfiction and creative writing pedagogy, including Echolocations (winner of the Nicholas Roerich Prize), Resistance Fantasies, The White Horse: A Colombian Journey, Crossroads: Creative Writing Exercises in Four Genres, and Winding Roads: Exercises in Writing Creative Nonfiction. Her translation of Alexis Stamatis's novel American Fugue received an National Endowment for the Arts International Literature Award. Thiel’s work has appeared in such journals as Poetry, The Hudson Review, The Sewanee Review, is reprinted in over 50 major anthologies, and has been translated widely. A recipient of numerous awards including the Robert Frost and Robinson Jeffers Awards, and a Fulbright Scholar, she is Professor of English at the University of New Mexico and has served as Writer-in-Residence for the Environmental Institute at Sewanee. She is teaching a non-fiction workshop and Writing Pedagogy at the School of Letters this summer. To learn more visit:

Wednesday, July 1, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium.





July 8, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Lucy Alibar

Lucy Alibar is best known as the Oscar-nominated co-screenwriter of the film Beasts of the Southern Wild.  The screenplay, based on Alibar’s original stage play Juicy and Delicious, won BAFTA and Scripter awards, while the film itself won the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Film Festival Camera D’Or.  Other works for the stage include Christmas and Jubilee Behold the Meteor ShowerMommy Says I’m Pretty on the Insides, Easybake, and Friend of Dorothy, along with a forthcoming adaptation of The Secret Garden.  Lucy Alibar's essays and stories have been published in Zoetrope, the Oxford American, and the Wall Street Journal. Her first novel, Throw Me On the Burnpile and Light Me Up--also based on a stage play and headed for the movies--is scheduled for publication by Scribner's.  Lucy Alibar hails from the Florida Panhandle and now lives in New York City.  She attended the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference in the summer of 1999.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.




July 15, 2015 at 4:30 pm

MFA Candidate Reading

MFA Candidate Reading, Wednesday, July 15, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. Student Farewell Dinner follows.