Readings, Lectures and Events / Past Readings, Lectures and Events

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.

Click here for a list of past events.


July 5, 2018

Reading with 2018 John Grammer Fellow Lucy Alibar

Please join us for a reading with Lucy Alibar, the 2018 John Grammer Fellow at the School of Letters.

Lucy Alibar is an American screenwriter and playwright who has been nominated for an Academy Award, a BAFTA award, and the Scripter Award for the film Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film was an adaptation written with Benh Zeitlin based on Lucy's play, Juicy and Delicious. Beasts of the Southern Wild also earned the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Cannes Film Festival Camera D’Or.

Lucy is also the winner of the Ray Bradbury Nebula Award, the Humanitas Prize, and the Nantucket Film Festival New Voices in Screenwriting Award.Lucy’s writing has been published in Zoetrope, the Oxford American, and The Wall Street Journal and her plays have been produced at Sundance Theatre Lab, National Theatre Studio, Joe’s Pub, Ojai, Berkeley Rep, and Williamstown.

She has worked for Pixar, Escape Artists/Amazon, Julia Roberts/New Line, and Guillermo del Toro/Universal (“The Secret Garden”). “Burnpile” is the title of her latest work and it is currently being adapted into a pilot for FX/Amblin Entertainment. Her film "Troupe Zero" is in production with Amazon.

Lucy is also a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, a Sundance Screenwriting Fellow, associate editor at Oxford American magazine, and advocate for girls in the arts. We're pleased to welcome her back to Sewanee, where she was a Sewanee Young Writers' Participant and later a workshop teacher.

Lucy Alibar appears as the 2018 John Grammer Fellow through the generosity of the Blake & Bailey Family Fund. Read more here:

Screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild on Tuesday, July 3, at 7:30 pm, Sewanee Union Theater. Free and open to the public.

Reading with Lucy Alibar on THURSDAY, July 5, at 5:00 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium. Note change in day from our usual Wednesday events.




June 27, 2018

Reading and Conversation with Roger Hodge

Roger Hodge is the author, most recently, of Texas Blood: Seven Generations Among the Outlaws, Ranchers, Indians, Missionaries, Soldiers, and Smugglers of the Borderlands. He is deputy editor of The Intercept, an online news magazine devoted to investigative journalism, and his writings have appeared in many publications, including the Sewanee Review, Texas Monthly, Oxford American, The New Republic, and Harper’s Magazine. He was formerly the editor of Harper's Magazine 2006 - 2010, and the editor of the Oxford American from 2012-2015.

Texas Blood is an intoxicating, singularly illuminating history of the Texas borderlands from their settlement through seven generations of Hodge’s ranching family. John Jeremiah Sullivan says of Texas Blood: “Imagine finding out that the land where Cormac McCarthy set one of his most brutal novels was your family’s ranch . . . I’ve read loads of books about Texas but rarely encountered one so deeply of it, so deep the story escapes and becomes a treatise on the twisted American past, and the force exerted by that on our complex present."

Roger Hodge is a 1989 graduate of Sewanee, and lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and their two sons.

Wednesday, June 27 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following at the Sewanee Review House.


June 20, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Faculty Reading with Jamie Quatro

Jamie Quatro's debut novel, Fire Sermon, was just published in 2018 with Grove Press in the U.S., Picador in the U.K., and Anansi International in Canada. The highly anticipated, provocative debut novel charts with bold intimacy and immersive sensuality the life of a married woman in the grip of a magnetic affair. Anthony Domestico of Commonweal writes of Fire Sermon, “Quatro is a true cartographer of desire, showing that the longings of the body and the soul aren’t two autonomous states but constitute a singularly vast and singularly wild territory. Her fiction is sexy, it’s theological, and it’s consistently and surprisingly both at the same time.” Fire Sermon is an Indie Next pick and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick. In the U.K. the novel is a “Foyles Five” title, as well as one of W.H. Smith's 2018 Fresh Talent picks. Fire Sermon is forthcoming in translation in The Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Poland. 

Her story collection, I Want To Show You More, won remarkable acclaim: it was a New York Times Notable Book, an NPR Best Book of 2013, an Indie Next pick, and a New York Times Editors’ Choice. The critic James Wood, notoriously hard to please, named it a Favorite Book of the Year in The New Yorker and said this about it: “Passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable, [Quatro’s work] moves between carnality and spirit like some . . . modernized Flannery O’Connor.”  Jamie has also published critical essays and reviews—about Flannery O’Connor, Barry Hannah, Amy Hempel, and Dennis Johnson, among others—in Oxford AmericanTin House, and New York Times Book Review.

Jamie’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, VICE, The New York Times Book Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. A graduate of Pepperdine University, she earned an MA in English at William and Mary.  Her MFA was earned at Bennington College. A Contributing Editor at Oxford American, she teaches in the Sewanee School of Letters MFA program, and lives with her husband and children in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. Photo © Stephen Alvarez.

Wednesday, June 20 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception, book signing and Birthday Celebration for the author in Gailor Atrium.


June 13, 2018 at 4:30 pm

Lecture with Maha Jafri

Please join us for Maha Jafri's lecture entitled Reading for Pleasure, Reading for Spite: Gossip and Victorian Literature. Jafri is an Assistant Professor of English at Sewanee. She specializes in Victorian literature, with research and teaching interests in the history of the novel and narrative, psychology, ethics, and intellectual history. She received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University and her B.A. from Johns Hopkins University. Her work has appeared in the Oxford Forum for Modern Language Studies and The Henry James Review. She is currently completing a book manuscript entitled Between Us: Gossip, Sociability, and the Victorian Novel. Photo: Buck Butler

Wednesday, June 13 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception following in Gailor Atrium. Co-sponsored with the Friends of the duPont Library.


June 6, 2018

Faculty Reading with Poet Nickole Brown

Nickole Brown's first collection of poetry, Sister, a novel-in-poems, was first published in 2007 by Red Hen Press and a new edition will be reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Her second book, a biography-in-poems called Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions in 2015 and won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. The audio book of that collection became available in 2017. Nickole received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for ten years.She was an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years until she gave up her beloved position there to write full time. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places in addition to the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program, including the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA and the Hindman Settlement School.

Currently at work on a collection of poems about animals, she is thrilled to volunteer each week at Animal Haven of Asheville and the Western North Carolina Nature Center, and has recently joined the team at Heart of Horse Sense.  A clutch of these new poems recently won Rattle's 2018 Chapbook Contest—To Those Who Were Our First Gods will be published in December. Nickole Brown lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC, with their exceptionally loving and beautiful golden retriever, Solace. 

Read more about Nickole here. Photo ©Gordon Hight.

Wednesday, June 6 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Reception and book signing following in Gailor Atrium.


February 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm


A performance of Macbeth in honor of Ann Jennalie Cook

The Sewanee School of Letters invites you to a performance of Shakespeare's Macbeth in honor of faculty member Ann Jennalie Cook on Thursday, February 15 by the American Shakespeare Center, in Guerry Auditorium at 7:00 p.m. Doors will open at 6:30 pm, with period music from the company beginning at that time.

The performance will be in memory of our dear friend and School of Letters faculty member Ann Jennalie Cook, distinguished Shakespeare scholar, who passed away last summer. Through the generosity of one of Ann's many grateful students at the School of Letters, we are able to honor her with this performance of Macbeth.

The American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA, recovers the joys and accessibility of Shakespeare’s theatre, language, and humanity by exploring the English Renaissance stage and its practices through performance and education. The ASC Blackfriars Playhouse, the world’s only re-creation of Shakespeare’s indoor theatre, is open year-round for productions of classic and modern plays, which have been hailed by The Washington Post as "shamelessly entertaining" and by The Boston Globe as "phenomenal…bursting with energy."

The ASC brings a unique performance style to Sewanee, blending Shakespeare’s stagecraft with modern sensibility. The company uses Shakespeare’s Staging Conditions: universal lighting, minimal sets, character doubling, cross-gender casting, and live music. Shakespeare’s performance company couldn’t turn the lights out on the audience; actors and audience shared the same light. The ASC shares light with the audience throughout the performance for a unique brand of audience contact rarely seen in theatre today. 

We would like to give special thanks to the Sewanee Performing Arts Series, and to the Department of English, the Department of Humanities, the Department of Theater and Dance, the Department of Medieval Studies, Writing Across the Curriculum, and the Center for Speaking and Learning. We are most grateful to Ann’s School of Lettters student for her generous contribution that makes this performance possible.

A word about Macbeth

From the first words of the play until the title character loses his head, Shakespeare's shortest tragedy is also his most unrelenting examination of the dark side of humanity. Driven to bloody deeds by their lust for power and supernatural predictions, Macbeth and his Lady fight to hold on to their ill-gotten throne, their sanity, and each other by any means necessary.

“The loss and degradation I find so appalling in this play is not the fall of Macbeth, but the corruption of what is sometimes referred to as the strongest marriage in all of Shakespeare,” says director Ben Curns. “While Macbeth features witchcraft, swordfights, storms, hallucinations, and even the walking dead, I still maintain that this is a love story. Perhaps if they made better choices they could be Beatrice and Benedick, but instead they will, in the words of Helen Gardener, ‘enter a world of appalling loneliness, of meaningless activity, unloved and unable to love.’ I can’t imagine anything more tragic.”


"By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."

Photos by Michael Bailey

November 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm

“Literary Manhattan, the Modern Press, and Southern Literature” by Dr. Sarah Gardner

You are invited to attend “Literary Manhattan, the Modern Press, and Southern Literature”
A Lecture by Professor Sarah Gardner, Director of The Center for Southern Studies and Distinguished University Professor of History, Mercer University
Wednesday, November 15, Gailor Auditorium, 4:30 p.m.
Sponsored by The Sewanee School of Letters, The Department of American Studies, and the University Lectures Committee

Professor Gardner’s talk will be based on the decade’s worth of research she did while writing her just-published book Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Southern Renaissance, 1920-1941 (Cambridge University Press 2017). The book looks at literary works by Southerners, both famous and obscure, from the unusual perspective of book-reviewing. Her argument is that the books themselves, and especially the reviews that interpreted them for the wider literate world, were engaged in the project of imagining the South and explaining it to the rest of the country. The research is prodigious—Gardner has unearthed fascinating but forgotten novels and tracts, then gone deeper, finding out how daily papers, national magazines like Saturday Review and The New Republic, and niche publications like The Chicago Defender and The Crisis, helped the country understand itself by understanding its most distinctive and troubling region.

Professor Gardner is one of the leading historians of the South, and particularly of the intellectual history thereof. Her first book, Blood and Irony: Southern White Women's Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937, was published in 2006 and established Gardner’s reputation as one of the most original “southernists” of her generation. Choice called it an impressively researched and thoroughly contextualized argument, and Civil War History added that it was “a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on women and the creation of historical memory.” Reviewing the South is already enhancing that reputation. Jonathan Wells of the University of Michigan noted that “Gardner, one of America’s leading literary historians, offers strikingly fresh insights into the South and the nation between the World Wars. This book will shape our understanding of American literary history for years to come.” Michael Winship of the University of Texas called the book “a fascinating analysis of the role of the south in the American imaginary during the interwar years.” Gardner is a Distinguished University Professor of History at Mercer University, where she also directs the Center for Southern Studies. She has taught twice in Sewanee’s May Semester program in Beaufort, South Carolina, and was Brown Foundation Visiting Fellow in Spring, 2017.

November 13, 2017

Heavy: An American Memoir. A reading and conversation with Kiese Laymon

We're excited to welcome author Kiese Laymon to Sewanee on Monday, Nov. 13 for Heavy: An American Memoir, a reading and conversation in Convocation Hall at 7 pm. Laymon is currently a Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of Mississippi and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa.

Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. He has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, the New York Times, ESPN The Magazine, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers, FADER, Oxford American, the Best American series, Ebony and Guernica. He is a contributing editor of the Oxford American.

Laymon has two books forthcoming, including his memoir called Heavy and a novel called And So On, expected in 2017 and 2018, both from Scribner.

The event is presented by the Common Book Program and sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College, Office of the Dean of Students, Student Government Association, Sewanee School of Letters, the Sewanee Review, American Studies, English Department, Sewanee Slavery Project, and Rivendell Writers' Colony.

Books will be available for purchase at the University Bookstore and at the event. Please join us!









October 10, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Kelly Grey Carlisle Reading

KELLY GREY CARLISLE is a 1998 graduate of Sewanee, where she earned departmental honors in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Her personal essays have appeared in Salon, Ploughshares, New England Review, The Sun, Cherry Tree, The Rumpus, and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction and have been listed as “notable” three times in Best American Essays. She earned the MA and PhD degrees at the University of Nebraska and teaches creative writing at Trinity University in San Antonio, where she also edits 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction.

Her first book, the memoir We Are All Shipwrecks, has just appeared  from Sourcebooks.  It concerns a childhood that began with shocking tragedy—the murder of her mother when Kelly was only three weeks old—and becomes, as Library Journal put it, "an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love.”  CBC Books has called it “one of the 15 most Buzz-worthy nonfiction books” of the current season, putting her in company with Ta-Nehisi Coates, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Toni Morrison.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, at 4:30 p.m. in Gailor Auditorium. The reading is co-sponsored with the University's Lecture Committee.

July 12, 2017 at 4:30 pm

MFA Candidate Reading

Wednesday, July 12 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.

July 5, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Alana Levinson-LaBrosse

Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse is a translator, poet, and teacher who has lived and worked in Iraq for the last six years. She served as the founding chair of the English Department at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). She received her MFA at Warren Wilson and MEd from the University of Virginia. Handful of Salt (The Word Works, 2016) introduced Kajal Ahmad’s poetry to English. A new and selected works of Abdulla Pashew is forthcoming from Phoneme Media in 2017. Poems, translations, and essays have appeared in Epiphany, The Iowa Review, Words Without Borders, and the Poetry Society of America. She is currently co-director at AUIS’ Kashkul and a PhD candidate at the University of Exeter’s Centre for Kurdish Studies.

Her lecture is entitled,  "Exile is Arrival: Kurdish Poetry."

Wednesday, July 5 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium. Co-sponsored with the Friends of duPont Library. 





June 28, 2017 at 4:30 pm

David Haskell

David Haskell’s work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of the natural world. His latest book, The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors (Viking, 2017), examines the many ways that trees and humans are connected. Deborah Blum, Pulitzer winner, author of The Poisoner’s Handbook, and director of the Knight Science Journalism program at MIT says of The Songs of Trees, “David George Haskell may be the finest literary nature writer working today. The Songs of Trees – compelling, lyrical, wise – is a case in point.”

His first book, The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature (Viking, 2012), was winner of the National Academies’ Best Book Award for 2013, finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction, winner of the 2013 Reed Environmental Writing Award, winner of the 2012 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature, runner-up for the 2013 PEN E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award, and winner, in its Chinese translation, of the 2016 Shenzheng Dapeng Nature Writing Award.

Haskell is a 2014-2015 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He holds degrees from the University of Oxford (BA) and from Cornell University (PhD). He is professor of biology and environmental studies at the University of the South.

Wednesday, June 28 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.



June 21, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Stephanie Pruitt

Writer Stephanie Pruitt's vocations, self-described, include poet, social practice artist, “ARTrepreneur,” and “possibilitarian.” Holding an MFA from Vanderbilt, Stephanie has taught there and at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference. She is the recipient of an Academy of American Poets’ Prize, and Essence magazine named her one of its 40 Favorite Poets (the others included Phillis Wheatley, Maya Angelou, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Rita Dove). But in addition to her literary prowess, Stephanie has a special gift for bringing her art outside the library and the seminar room and into sometimes surprising public spaces. One of her poems is inscribed—as in carved—into a walkway at First Tennessee Park, where the Triple-A Nashville Sounds play baseball; others can be accessed by turning the crank on any of the several poetry-dispensing gumball machines she has placed around Nashville. As founder of the No Starving Artist Academy, Stephanie has committed herself to proving that one can, simultaneously, make art, make a difference, and make a living. Read more about her here:

Wednesday, June 21 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.

Stephanie Pruitt appears as the inaugural John Grammer Fellow through the generosity of the Blake & Bailey Family Fund. Read more here:



June 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm

School of Letters Alumni Reading

The School of Letters presents an alumni reading in celebration of Director John Grammer. Participants include Maggie Blake Bailey, Clay Byars, Dwight Gray, Donna Mintz, and Hannah Palmer. 

Maggie Blake Bailey, L’ 17, is a poet and teacher in Atlanta, Ga. Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, Bury the Lede. Maggie has twice been nominated for a pushcart prize. Poems are published or forthcoming in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume V: Georgia, Tar River, Slipstream, and elsewhere. Maggie has attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference as a MFA scholar.

Clay Byars, C’97, is an MFA candidate in the School of Letters. Clay is the author of the much-acclaimed memoir Will & I, published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, about his car accident and subsequent stroke following surgery, the contrast of  his life with the life of his twin brother. Sewanee Features published this article about Clay:

Dwight Gray, L’16, is an army vet and poet. His first book of poetry, Overwatch, was published in 2011 by Grey Sparrow Press, and Dwight's poems appear in a number of journals and literary magazines including The Sewanee Review.  Dwight attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference as a poetry contributor.

Donna Mintz, L’17, is writer and visual artist based in Atlanta. She is a visual arts critic and regular contributor to Her essays have recently focused on James Agee, also the subject of her thesis work. Her work has been published in The Sewanee Review.

Hannah Palmer, L’11, is the author of Flight Path: A Search for Roots beneath the World's Busiest Airport, hailed as “a riveting account of one young mother's attempt at making a home where there’s little home left.” after returning to Atlanta to find all three of her childhood houses wiped out by the expansion of the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Published by Hub City Press, Flight Path was released this year to great praise in the Bitter Southerner and the Atlanta Constitution Journal.


Wednesday, June 14 at 4:30 pm, Convocation Hall. Book signing and Reception following.







June 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson is the author of the collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth (Ecco/Harper Perennial, 2009), which received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and the Shirley Jackson Award, and two novels, The Family Fang (Ecco, 2011) and Perfect Little World (Ecco, 2017). His fiction has appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, One Story, A Public Space, and elsewhere, and has appeared in four volumes of the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology as well as The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2012. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Rivendell, and the KHN Center for the Arts. He lives in Sewanee, Tennessee, with his wife, the poet Leigh Anne Couch, and his sons, Griff and Patch, where he is an associate professor in the English department at the University of the South. photo © Stephen Alvarez

Wednesday, June 7 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.





July 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm

MFA Candidate Reading

MFA Candidate Reading, Wednesday, July 13, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. 

Preceding the reading, the University Bookstore will offer books authored by students, faculty and friends of the program, from 4:00 - 4:30 PM, just outside the auditorium.













July 6, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Jennine Capo Crucet

Jennine Capó Crucet is the author of two books, most recently the novel Make Your Home Among Strangers (St. Martin's Press). Her story collection, How to Leave Hialeah, won the Iowa Short Fiction Award, the John Gardner Book Prize, and was named a Best Book of the Year by The Miami Herald, the Miami New Times, and the Latinidad List. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Ploughshares, Epoch, The Rumpus, Prairie Schooner, and other magazines.  She's the fiction editor of PEN Center USA’s Handbook for Writers, a comprehensive writing manual used in high schools nationally as part of PEN’s Writers in the Schools programs. A former sketch comedienne and National Public Radio scriptwriter, she’s worked extensively as a writing coach and college advisor for high school students and also led the Young Artists’ Workshop (exclusively for high school writers) at the Port Townsend Writers' Conference for three years. A winner of an O. Henry Prize and a Bread Loaf Fellow, she received her B.A. from Cornell University and her M.F.A. from the University of Minnesota, where she was also an instructor. She grew up in Miami but now lives in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she’s an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska. To learn more about Crucet, visit her web site at

Wednesday, July 6, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception and book signing following, Gailor Atrium.




July 5, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Take Shelter Screening

Film screening of Take Shelter, in conjunction with the Film Studies course taught by Michael Dunaway.

2011, dir. Jeff Nichols , 2 h,  Rated R

Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

7:30 pm at the Sewanee Union Theater. Free and open to the public.




June 29, 2016 at 4:30 pm

What Was the New Journalism? A Dialogue with John Grammer and Neil Shea

Marshall Frady called it an “odd unchurched coupling between the novel and journalism.” Tom Wolfe gave it the name that stuck, “the New Journalism,” a designation John Sullivan glosses like this: “the long, weird, quasi-essayistic, documentary-infused magazine piece, a form older than the novel, despite a heritable instinct in critics to continually be calling it New.” New or old, the form experienced a remarkable flowering in the 1960’s and early ‘70’s, when writers like Frady and Wolfe—and Mailer and Talese and King and Morris--created a remarkable moment in American letters, one that continues to inspire writers like Sullivan. John Grammer, Director of the School of Letters, and Neil Shea, School of Letters faculty and National Geographic writer, discuss the moment and its influence on nonfiction writing today.

Wednesday, June 29 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.



June 28, 2016 at 7:30 pm

Crimson Peak Screening

Film screening of Crimson Peak, in conjunction with the Gothic in Literature course taught by Kelly Malone.

2015, dir. Guillermo del Toro, 1h 59min Rated R

In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds - and remembers.

7:30 pm at the Sewanee Union Theater. Free and open to the public.





June 22, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Chris Bachelder

Chris Bachelder is the author of the novels Abbott Awaits, U.S.!, Bear v. Shark, and Lessons in Virtual Tour Photography. His acclaimed new novel, The Throwback Special, was serialized in The Paris Review. It is the absorbing story of twenty-two men who gather every fall to painstakingly reenact what ESPN called “the most shocking play in NFL history” and the Washington Redskins dubbed the “Throwback Special”: the November 1985 play in which the Redskins’ Joe Theismann had his leg horribly broken by Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants live on Monday Night Football. A slyly profound and startlingly original novel about the psyche of the American male, The Throwback Special marks the return of one of the most acclaimed literary voices of his generation.

Bachelder's 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, to strong reviews: “Not since John Cheever,” said novelist Brock Clark, “has an American male fiction writer written so ingeniously, so beautifully, so heartbreakingly about the pain and sweetness of domestic life.''

Bachelder was awarded the prestigious Terry Southern prize this year. He received an MFA in fiction from the University of Florida and 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.  Photo: Camille Stallings.

Wednesday, June 22 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Book signing following, Gailor Atrium.




June 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm

The One-Man Traveling Tennessee Williams Festival presents sometimes there's God so quickly starring David Roby

Actor and author David Roby plays nineteen different characters in this one-man tour de forcesometimes there's God so quickly is a chronicle of Roby’s travels through the Mississippi Delta, a quest for the elusive character of the late playwright Tennessee Williams, presented through a colloquy of the voices of those who knew him.  David Roby was the Tennessee Williams Fellow at Sewanee from 2010 to 2012 (when he researched and wrote this one-man show) and is now Artist-in-Residence at the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Arts in Medicine and an acting and playwriting teacher at U.A.B.’s ArtPlay.  A graduate of the North Carolina School of the Arts and holding an M.F.A. degree from Illinois State University, he has also studied acting and playwriting at Oxford University, the Wooly Mammoth Theatre School in Washington, D.C., and the Playwright’s Intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center. His other plays include Arts and Science, Unseen Character (which concerns characters referred to but not seen in Williams’s The Glass Menagerie), and Mercy Me

Saturday, June 18 at 7:00 pm, McCrory Hall on the campus of St. Andrew's-Sewanee School.




June 15, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Jennifer Habel

Jennifer Habel is the author of Good Reason, winner of the Stevens Poetry Manuscript Competition, and In the Little House, winner of the Copperdome Chapbook Prize. Her poems have appeared in The Believer, Blackbird, Gulf Coast, LIT, The Massachusetts Review, The Southeast Review, and elsewhere. In 2014 she won an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award, and is currently Coordinator of Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati.

This event is free and open to the public.

Wednesday, June 15 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception and book signing following, Gailor Atrium.







June 10, 2016 at 7:00 pm

Bonnie Bishop in Concert

Thirty Tigers recording artist and Grammy-winning songwriter Bonnie Bishop will perform at 7:00 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Angel Park in downtown Sewanee.  A veteran touring musician with five records behind her, Bishop has seen her songs covered by Bonnie Raitt and performed on the tv show Nashville.  Her sixth album, Ain’t Who I Was, appeared on May 27 to remarkable acclaim, including strong reviews from the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and American Songwriter.  The Texas native’s roots are in Country music, but the current record—produced by Dave Cobb, fresh from albums with Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, and Jason Isbell—moves toward R&B and draws persistent comparisons to Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis. The Sewanee show, interrupting a very busy tour, will be a homecoming for Bishop, who is a creative writing student in the Sewanee School of Letters.  The School of Letters is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to all. 

Friday, June 10 at 7:00 pm, Angel Park, Downtown Sewanee. Free and open to the public.






June 8, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Ed Tarkington

Ed Tarkington is the author of the novel Only Love Can Break Your Heart, published this year by Algonquin.  The book has won remarkable acclaim, particularly for a first novel: it was both an Indie Next pick for the American Booksellers Association and an Indies Introduce pick for IndieBound, and Book of the Month Club made it a Main Selection. A native of Central Virginia, Tarkington is a graduate of Furman University who earned graduate degrees at the University of Virginia and Florida State.  A frequent contributor to, his articles, essays, and stories have appeared in the Nashville Scene, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Post Road, the Pittsburgh Quarterly, the Southeast Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, where he teaches English, and coaches wrestling, at Montgomery Bell Academy.

The reading is free and open to the community. It is sponsored by the School of Letters and the Friends of the Library.

Wednesday, June 8 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception and book signing following, Gailor Atrium.







April 13, 2016 at 4:30 pm

Fiction Reading with Hank Lewis

Author Hank Lewis will read from his fiction on Wednesday, April 13, now at 5:30 PM (please note time change) in Gailor Auditorium. Lewis is the spring semester Brown Foundation Fellow at the University of the South, and the reading is sponsored by the English Department, the School of Letters, and the Foundation.

Lewis’ first collection of short stories, In the Arms of our Elders (Carolina Wren, 1995), was the winner of the Sonja H. Stone Prize for Fiction. His second collection, I Got Somebody in Staunton (HarperCollins, 2005), was a finalist for the 2006 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and winner of a Black Caucus of the American Library Association Literary Award.

His work has received a Literature Fellowship in Prose from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Prize for Fiction, and a Special Award for New Writing from the Fellowship of Southern Writers.  His fiction has appeared in many journals, including PloughsharesKenyon ReviewCallaloo, African American Review, Colorado Review, and Blackbird, and has been reprinted in several anthologies, including Best American Short Stories 1996 and the 2008 anthology, Coming of Age in the 21st Century.

Lewis received his MFA from the University of Virginia, where he studied with George Garrett and Rita Dove, and he has taught creative writing and literature at the University of Maryland, Colgate University, Centre College, Trinity College, Mary Washington College, and Denison University.  In addition, he has also coached the Bahamas National Soccer Teams.

The reading is free and open to the community.

Wednesday, April 13, at 5:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Book signing following, Gailor Atrium.

September 30, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Fiction Reading with Amy Greene

Amy Greene is the young author of, so far, two novels, both of them widely acclaimed. Bloodroot was “a striking debut by a gifted writer,” said Ron Rash, and “a tapestry so rich and intricate that each and every storyline holds the reader spellbound,” according to Jill McCorkle. Long Man was “an instant classic” for the New York Journal of Books and one of the top books of 2014 for The Washington Post and The Minneapolis Star Tribune. Reviewers all over the country praised both novels for their lyric prose and their flawless rendering of place, finding in them an alloy of realism and the mythic that recalled such classics as The Color Purple and Wuthering Heights. No wonder Greene has been honored with both the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction and the Weatherford Award for Fiction, and by fellowships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. Like her novels, Amy Greene is deeply rooted in the foothills of East Tennessee, where she was born and still lives with her family.

Praise for Amy Greene: "A born storyteller who depicts the voices and folkways of Appalachia with both eloquence and verisimilitude." – Ron Rash

This reading is sponsored by the Sewanee School of Letters, and has been made possible by the University of the South Lectures Committee, the Mellon Collaborative for Southern Appalachian and Place-Based Studies, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony. Special thanks to the Department of English and the Office of Community Outreach at the University of the South.

Wednesday, September 30, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception and book signing 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.


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.

Screening of Beasts of the Southern Wild on Monday, July 6, at 8:00 pm, Sewanee Union Theater. Free and open to the public.

Reading by Lucy Alibar on Wednesday, July 8, 2015 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.




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. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.





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 the 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, June 24, 2015 at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Booksigning following the reading.




June 17, 2015 at 4:30 pm

From Plate to Page: Panel on Food Writing

With Eliza Borné, Alice Randall, Caroline Randall Williams, and Kevin West

Eliza Borné is the interim editor of the Oxford American (where, over the past decade, she has also worked as an editorial intern, an associate editor, and managing editor). She was previously an editor at BookPage, a national book review publication distributed in public libraries and bookstores. Borné received a B.A. in English from Wellesley College. She currently serves on the talent committee of the Arkansas Literary Festival.

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: Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family, 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 Wheatley 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, is due out in 2016.

Wednesday, June 17, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.




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, Gailor Atrium.




October 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The Percys at Brinkwood and Beyond

Rivendell Writers' Colony and Sewanee School of Letters invite you to a panel discussion, The Percys at Brinkwood and Beyond, on Wednesday, October 29 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium.

Moderated by Richard Howorth of Square Books in Oxford, the panel will include John Grammer, Director of the School of Letters; Wyatt Prunty, Director of the Sewanee Writers' Conference; and Billy Percy. Please join us for an evening of enlightened discussion, and stay for the reception following in Gailor Atrium.









July 16, 2014 at 4:30 pm

MFA Candidate Reading

MFA Candidate Reading, Wednesday, July 16, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. Student Farewell Dinner follows. (photo of Maggie Blake by Mary Stafford)






July 9, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Stranger Than Fiction: Editor Panel on Nonfiction Writing

National Geographic Writer and VQR contributing editor Neil Shea will lead a conversation on nonfiction writing and publishing with editors Paul Reyes of the Virginia Quarterly Review, Leigh Anne Couch of The Sewanee Review, and Bruce Falconer of The American Scholar

Neil Shea is a veteran journalist whose work—published in such venues as The Providence Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and The American Scholar—literally spans the globe, often covering military or environmental issues.  Shea has been embedded with US troops in Iraq and interviewed a Taliban commander in Afghanistan; he has explored Mexico’s crystal cave, visited Madagascar’s remote stone forest, and reported on shrinking sea ice in the Arctic sea.  An editor-at-large for the Virginia Quarterly Review and a former staff writer for National Geographic, Shea has been honored with gold and silver Lowell Thomas Awards for stories on Ethiopia and Cuba, and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Overseas Press Club Award.  Shea has taught courses in journalism and nonfiction writing at Boston University and at Furman University. You can follow Neil Shea on Instagram @neilshea13.

Leigh Anne Couch is the managing editor of the Sewanee Review. Her poems have appeared in the Western Humanities Review,ShenandoahSalmagundiGulf Coast ReviewCincinnati Review,Carolina Quarterly, and other journals. Her chapbook, Green and Helpless was published by Finishing Line Press, and her first book, Houses Fly Away, was winner of the Zone 3 Press First Book Award. She lives in Tennessee with the writer Kevin Wilson and their sons, Griff and Patch.

Bruce Falconer is the senior editor of The American Scholar, a national, general-interest magazine based in Washington, D.C., where he assigns and edits nonfiction features and book reviews. He was previously a staff writer at Mother Jones and, for six years, an editor at The Atlantic. At the Scholar, he has worked with a broad range of accomplished writers, such as William Deresiewicz, Jan Morris, Neil Shea, Lincoln Caplan, and Ingrid Rowland, among many others. As a writer, his work has taken him around the world—to Switzerland, where he wrote about the phenomenon of “suicide tourism”; to the remote Canadian archipelago of Haida Gwaii, site of the largest and most controversial “geoengineering” experiment in history; and to Chile, where he pieced together the story of Colonia Dignidad, a German religious commune that, in the 1970s, tortured and murdered political dissidents for Augusto Pinochet. His piece about the commune ("The Torture Colony," The American Scholar, Autumn 2008) was a finalist for the Livingston Award in the category of international reporting. More recently, he as an Arthur F. Burns Fellow in Berlin, Germany, where he worked for Der Tagesspiegel, Berlin’s largest daily newspaper. His piece about the closure of Tacheles, an avant-garde artists collective in Berlin, was a finalist for the Arthur F. Burns Award.

Paul Reyes is the Deputy Editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and is the author of Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida’s Great Recession(2010). “Opportunity Knocks,” his essay about the Miami organization Take Back the Land published in the Fall 2009 issue of VQR, was a finalist for a Harry Chapin Media Award. Another essay about the housing crisis in Florida was a finalist for the National Magazine Award for Feature Writing. He is married to photographer and designer Ellen Reyes.

Wednesday, July 9, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.





July 7, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Hallowed Isles

A film about the Chatham Islands from Luke Padgett, Sewanee C'07 and current MFA student at the School of Letters. 

The Chatham Islands are remote.  Their isolation is made by the ocean.  Colonists came to carve a livelihood from the elements.  Much has changed.  For some, the journey began after they arrived. Home can be hard to find, even when you're already there.  Those colonists have become something new.

Monday July 7 at 8:00 pm. Free admission, Sewanee Union Theater, 45 minutes.



July 2, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Faculty Reading with Michael Griffith and David Huddle


Michael Griffith's books are Trophy, Bibliophilia: A Novella and Stories and Spikes: A Novel; his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Salmagundi, Oxford American, Southwest Review, Five Points, Virginia Quarterly Review, Golf World, and The Washington Post, among other periodicals. His work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Taft Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Michael Griffith was educated at Princeton and Louisiana State University. Formerly Associate Editor of the Southern Review, he is now Associate Professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and Fiction Editor of the Cincinnati Review. He is also the Editor of Yellow Shoe Fiction, an original-fiction series from LSU Press. 

David Huddle holds degrees from the University of Virginia, Hollins College, and Columbia University.  Originally from Ivanhoe, Virginia, he taught for 38 years at the University of Vermont, then served three years as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Hollins University. He also held the 2012-2013 Roy Acuff Chair of Excellence in the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. Huddle has continued to teach at the Bread Loaf School of English in Ripton, Vermont, and the Rainier Writing Workshop in Tacoma, Washington. Huddle’s work has appeared in The American Scholar, Esquire, Appalachian Heritage, The New Yorker, Harper’s, Shenandoah, Agni, Poetry, Story, and The Georgia Review. His novel, The Story of a Million Years (Houghton Mifflin, 1999) was named a Distinguished Book of the Year by Esquire and a Best Book of the Year by the Los Angeles Times Book Review. His novel, Nothing Can Make Me Do This, won the 2012 Library of Virginia Award for Fiction and his collection, Black Snake at the Family Reunion, was a finalist for the 2013 Library of Virginia Award for Poetry and won the 2013 Pen New England Award for Poetry. His new book, The Faulkes Chronicle, is due out in September from Tupelo Press.

Wednesday, July 2, at 4:30 PM, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium. 







July 1, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Scrabpocalypse 2014

Sign up at 6:30 pm, Game at 7 pm





June 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm

The Tennessee Music Issue: A conversation with the Oxford American's Editor Roger Hodge and contributors

Join us as John Ernest leads a conversation about the Oxford American’s Tennessee Music issue, with its editor Roger Hodge, C’89, contributors Jaime Quatro and John Grammer. The Oxford American's 15th Annual Southern Music Issue and CD feature the music of Tennessee, and the work of several writers with a Sewanee connection including John Jeremiah Sullivan and John Grammer. Other articles focused on Sewanee figures like Tupper Saussy and Scott Bates, and the enclosed CD’s included Johnny Cash’s song “Monteagle Mountain.” 

Hodge, Quatro and Grammer, along with frequent School of Letters faculty member John Ernest, will discuss the issue, the general subject of Southern music, and the value and challenge of writing about it. 

Each year the magazine devotes one issue to the music of a Southern state.

"It was just a matter of time before we tackled Tennessee,” says Hodge, “and we thought it was the right time.  It's, in some ways, the big one. It's where all of American music comes together."  The issue featured articles about well-known musicians such as Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, and Isaac Hayes, about musical institutions like Stax Records and radio station WDIA, and personal memoirs by musicians like Rosanne Cash and Norbert Putnam.  The accompanying CD’s included musical tracks related to the articles. 

Copies of the issue will be on sale at the reading, which is open to all.   


Roger Hodge is also the author of The Mendacity of Hope, and his essays have appeared in many publications, including Texas Monthly, the London Review of Books, Popular Science, Men's Journal, and Harper's Magazine, where he was editor in chief. He is writing a book about life in the West Texas borderlands. 

Jamie Quatro is the author of the acclaimed debut story collection, I Want to Show You More. Her poem Protestant Worshipper in St. Joseph's Catherdral, San Antonio, Texas appears in the music issue. 

John Grammer is a Professor of English at the University of the South and Director of the Sewanee School of Letters. He received his BA at Vanderbilt University and his PhD at the University of Virginia.  His 1996 book Pastoral and Politics in the Old South won the C. Hugh Holman Award as the best book of the year in Southern literary study. His essay Tennessee Pastoral was featured in the Tennessee Music issue of the Oxford American. He is currently working on a book about the landmark year 1971. 

John Ernest, a past faculty member of the School of Letters, is the author of Liberation Historiography: African American Writers and the Challenge of History, 1794-1861 (2004), Chaotic Justice: Rethinking African American Literary History (2009), and A Nation Within a Nation: Organizing African American Communities before the Civil War (2011). His current book project is the Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of English at the University of Delaware. 

Wednesday, June 25, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. 





June 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Lecture with David Mikics: Slow Reading in a Hurried Age

Sponsored with The Friends of the duPont Library

Critic David Mikics is the author of Slow Reading in a Hurried Age, a practical guide for anyone who yearns for a more fulfilling reading experience. It reminds us of another mode of reading–the kind that requires our full attention and that has as its goal not the mere gathering of information but the deeper understanding that only good books can offer.

“There is much solid wisdom and penetrating advice in these pages. David Mikics is an inspired teacher, and he has brought his rich pedagogic imagination to life in this book, which teaches us to fall in love again with great literature.”
 – Phillip Lopate

Other books by David Mikics include The Annotated Emerson, The Art of the Sonnet, Who Was Jacques Derrida?: An Intellectual Biography, and A New Handbook of Literary Terms. He is currently at work on a forthcoming book from Norton in 2015 on Saul Bellow, called Bellow's People

David Mikics grew up in Carteret, New Jersey and Atlanta. He attended NYU and earned a Ph.D. at Yale. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Victoria and son Ariel, and teaches every year at the University of Houston, where he is John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English.

Wednesday, June 18, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.




June 11, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Reading with Jamie Quatro

Jamie Quatro’s debut fiction collection, I Want To Show You More (Grove 2013), is a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, Indie Next pick, and New York Times Editors’ Choice. It was named a Top 10 Book of 2013 by Dwight Garner in the New York Times and a Favorite Book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker. The collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.

Quatro’s work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, The Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, AGNI, The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony, as well a 2013 fellowship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her stories are anthologized in the O.Henry Prize Stories 2013 and in the 9th edition of The Story and Its Writer (ed. Ann Charters). Quatro has also been long listed for the prestigious Frank O'Conner International Short Story Award.

Quatro holds graduate degrees from the College of William & Mary and the Bennington College Writing Seminars, and is a Contributing Editor at Oxford American magazine. She lives with her family in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

Praise for Quatro's stories from James Wood in The New Yorker: “Passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable . . . Moves between carnality and spirit like some . . . modernized Flannery O’Connor . . ." 

Wednesday, June 11, at 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception following, Gailor Atrium.





February 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm to February 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

AWP Booksigning with Adrianne Harun - Friday, February 28 at 3 pm

Meet author Adrianne Harun at our AWP table D35 in Seattle on Friday, February 28 at 3 pm. She'll be signing her just-released novel A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain which will be available for sale at the School of Letters table D35. Adrianne teaches fiction writing at the School of Letters and at Ranier Writing Workshops.

A Man Came Out of A Door in the Mountain is the seductive and chilling debut novel from the critically acclaimed author of The King of Limbo. In isolated British Columbia, girls, mostly native, are vanishing from the sides of a notorious highway. Leo Kreutzer and his four friends are barely touched by these disappearances—until a series of mysterious and troublesome outsiders come to town. Then it seems as if the devil himself has appeared among them. In this intoxicatingly lush debut novel, Adrianne Harun weaves together folklore, mythology, and elements of magical realism to create a compelling and unsettling portrait of life in a dead-end town. A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain is atmospheric and evocative of place and a group of people, much in the way that Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones conjures the South, or Charles Bock’s Beautiful Children provides a glimpse of the Las Vegas underworld: kids left to fend for themselves in a broken world—rendered with grit and poetry in equal measure.

Praise for Adrianne Harun's A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain:

"In mesmerizing prose, debut novelist Harun spins a chilling tale shot through with both aching realism and age-old folktales, melding them together to capture a landscape lush with possibility and imagination and terrifying in its vast emptiness." Booklist (starred review)

“Harun creates a masterfully bleak and spooky mood and succinctly captures the desperation of the young people’s lives.” Publisher’s Weekly

“Through a complex narrative structure, Harun manages to invest all of her action…with an aura of myth and folk legend that raises it above the lurid and sensational.” Kirkus Reviews

“Harun’s mastery clearly lies in establishing atmosphere and mood. Much as it does to the novel’s characters, the gothic ambiance wraps around the reader and won’t let go.” Library Journal

February 28, 2014 at 10:00 am

AWP Booksigning with Carol Cassella - Friday, February 28 at 10 am

Meet author Carol Cassella at our AWP table D35 in Seattle on Friday, February 28 at 10 am. She'll sign her new novel Gemini which will be available for sale. Carol is a practicing physician and national bestselling author of two novels, Oxygen (2008) and Healer (2010).

About Gemini: Across the Puget Sound in a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula an unidentified patient lies unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. In Seattle, ICU doctor Charlotte Reese receives a call: Jane Doe will be transferred to her care. But when the patient arrives—with only tubes keeping her alive—Charlotte has to dig through x-rays and MRIs to determine what went wrong on the operating table. Jane Doe’s condition is getting worse each day, and Charlotte finds herself becoming increasingly consumed by her patient’s plight—both medical and personal.

Who is this woman? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she never regains consciousness? As a doctor and a woman, Charlotte is forced to confront these issues head on—especially when her boyfriend Eric, a science journalist, becomes involved in the case. But the closer Charlotte and Eric get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. The key to unlocking Jane Doe’s secret is opening their hearts to their own feelings about life and death, love and marriage…and each other.

Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a vivid novel of moral complexity and emotional depth.

Early Praise for Gemini:

“A book at turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, it invites us to accept, if nothing else, that the only way to live is to “cling to every moment even as you [leap] into the next.” Publishers Weekly

“Once again, Carol Cassella has written a novel full of gorgeously rendered characters, fascinating medical detail and tour de force plot twists. From its gripping first pages straight through to its stunning conclusion, Gemini is an unforgettable novel—a morality tale, a mystery, and a love story that will leave readers breathless.”
Maria Semple, New York Times bestselling author of Where’d You Go Bernadette?

“With big themes, an unforgettable setting, high stakes, mystery, suspense, heartbreak, human triumph, and rare insight, Gemini surprises and fascinates at every turn. Nobody writes about the miracle of the human organism like Carol Cassella. Gemini is a novel sure to keep readers flipping pages deep into the night.”
—Jonathan Evison, New York Times bestselling author of West of Here

"Carol, a practicing physician (an anesthesiologist), takes on a complex medical issue weaving a strong story from it. I loved it."

A Note from Carol
Gemini was inspired by my own work as a doctor, witnessing the endless difficult decisions we have to make now that medical science has changed the natural course of trauma and disease, and the sometimes painful hindsight we are left to cope with. But I was driven to write this book now, at this point in my life, because I’ve reached that age at which too many friends and family are being diagnosed with cancer or heart disease. Now it’s my turn to go down that decision tree on a personal level, and it’s a lot harder!

Gemini was also inspired by my life as a parent of two sets of twins, one fraternal and one identical. Although I understood the biology of this just fine, well before I got these four unexpected blessings, raising my family has offered plenty of surprises. As much as we understand about human biology, as integral as it is to our fate, there will always be far more that remains unknown. As a happy consequence, writing fiction about factual science can make for marvelous mysteries.



February 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm to February 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Rendezvous at AWP Seattle @ THE GROTTO - Wednesday, February 26 at 7 pm

Rendezvous with the School of Letters at AWP in Seattle at THE GROTTO on Wednesday, February 26, from 7 to 10 pm, for a soirée and reading with the charming Adrianne Harun, Carol Cassella, Leigh Anne Couch and Michael Griffith as well as other beguiling readers. The peerless team of Grammer and Alvarez will be hosting. Make your way to THE GROTTO: the speakeasy of the Rendezvous at 2322 Second Avenue, at 2nd and Bell in the heart of Belltown. You can click on directions here.

Join us at AWP at our table D35 later in the week when Adrianne signs her new novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, and Carol signs her new novel, Gemini.






October 25, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Walker Percy: A Documentary Film

Rivendell Writers' Colony and the Sewanee School of Letters present Walker Percy: A Documentary Film by Win Riley on Friday, October 25, at 7 pm at Gailor Auditorium. A conversation and reception with Walker Percy's grandson, Jack Moores will follow. In a rare television interview in 1980, Walker Percy said his concerns as writer were with “a theory of man, man as more than organism, more than consumer––man the wayfarer, man the pilgrim, man in transit, on a journey.” Join us as we look at Percy’s own journey as it is framed as a narrative about his life and ideas.

Friday October 25 at 7 pm

Gailor Auditorium at the University of the South






July 17, 2013 at 4:30 pm

MA and MFA Candidate Readings

Kris Lester | Kelly WIlkinson | Hanry Langhorne | Billy Pullen | Kathryn Williams | Hanna McGrath | Kristin Wood | Matthew Hummer | Michael Grubb | Carly Gates | Dwight Gray | Donna Mintz | David Collins | Melissa Maye | Luke Padgett | Natalie Grant



July 10, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Claire Vaye Watkins

Claire Vaye Watkins is the author of Battleborn, one of the most enthusiastically acclaimed story collections in living memory.  Watkins’ first book, it was made “best of the year” lists at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, National Public Radio, and the American Library association, and on the same day won both The Story Prize and the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  Not surprisingly, The National Book Foundation named Watkins one of its “5 Under 35” Fiction Writers of 2012. A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, One Story, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. An assistant professor at Bucknell University and a former instructor at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, Watkins is also the co-director of the Mojave School, a non-profit creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada. Wednesday, July 10, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.



June 26, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Adrianne Harun/Charles Martin

Adrianne Harun's short fiction, essays, and book reviews have been published in numerous magazines and journals, including Story, the Chicago Tribune (as a Nelson Algren winner), Narrative MagazineOntario Review,The Sun, Willow Springs, and Colorado Review. Her first short story collection, The King of Limbo (Houghton Mifflin) was a Sewanee Writing Series selection and a Washington State Book Award finalist. Her work has also been included in several anthologies. A new novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in the Mountain, will be published by Viking/Penguin in early 2014.

A longtime resident of Port Townsend, Washington, Adrianne has worked as an editor for over twenty years, with projects ranging from literary fiction to computer language textbooks and topics in alternative medicine. Adrianne teaches at the Rainier Writing Workshops, an MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, and at the Sewanee School of Letters.

Charles Martin is equally accomplished as an original poet and as a student and translator of Latin verse. His works in the former category include Room for Error (1978), Steal the Bacon (1987), and What the Darkness Proposes (1996), and in the latter, both a translation of The Poems of Catullus (1995) and a critical study of that poet. In 2002 his Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems (2002) was a finalist for the Lemore Marshall Prize from the American Academy of Poets, and in 2004 his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses won that organization's Harold Morton Landon Award for translation. In 2005, the American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him with the coveted Award for Literature. His most recent books are Signs & Wonders, a new collection of poems, and a collaborative translation (with Gavin Flood) of the Bhagavad Gita. Charles Martin received his degrees from Fordham and the SUNY at Buffalo and has taught at the City University of New York and Syracuse University, as well as the Sewanee School of Letters and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. 




June 19, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Richard Tillinghast

Richard Tillinghast is the author of eleven books of poetry, including The New Life, Six Mile Mountain, Today in Café Trieste, and the most recent, Wayfaring Stranger.  His poems have also appeared in such journals as American Poetry Review, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, The New Yorker, Slate, and the Southern Review, and in anthologies ranging from The Best American Poetry to the Harcourt Brace Handbook of Creative Writing
The versatile Tillinghast is also an accomplished critic (Poetry and What is Real, Robert Lowell’s Life & Work), travel writer  (his recent An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul was nominated for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize, awarded annually to a book that evokes the sense of place).  With his daughter Julia Clare Tillinghast he has translated the work of Turkish poet Edip Cansever. 

Tillinghast is Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan and holds degrees from Harvard and the University of the South (which he has celebrated in his beloved poem “Sewanee When We Were Young” and other works). Wednesday, June 19, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.



June 12, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Andrew Hudgins

Andrew Hudgins will publish two new books in June of 2013.  A Clown at Midnight is his ninth collection of poems; The Joker is a memoir of his career as an appreciator of, thinker about, and irrepressible teller of jokes. Hudgins’s eight previous books of poetry include Saints and Strangers (a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize), After the Lost War (winner of the Poets’ Prize), The Never-Ending (finalist for the National Book Award), Shut Up, You’re Fine: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children and American Rendering: New and Selected Poems. He’s also the author of two collections of literary essays, The Glass Anvil and Diary of a Poem.  His work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Stanford’s Wallace Stegner Fellowship, and Princeton’s Arthur C. Hodder Fellowship, and honored by prizes from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 

Hudgins is Humanities Distinguished Professor of English at the Ohio State University.  He has often served on the faculties of the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee School of Letters. Wednesday, June 12, 4:30 pm, Gailor Auditorium. Reception Following.



February 19, 2013 at 7:00 pm

East Side Storytellin': Kevin Wilson and Amanda Shires

Tuesday, February 19                         
7:00 p.m.                                           
Rumours East                                              
1112 Woodland Avenue, Nashville

FREE, Reservations required at 615.262.5346

The Sewanee School of Letters and East Side Story present author Kevin Wilson and musician Amanda Shires at Rumours East in Nashville on Tuesday, February 19. Wilson will read from his sensational book The Family Fang or other original work followed by a musical  performance by Amanda Shires.

East Side Story has partnered with Rumours East and WAMB 1200 AM/ 99.3 FM radio to present East Side Storytellin'—an evening of book readings, musical performances, and author/musician interviews designed to elaborate on the stories behind these creative processes. East Side Storytellin' is held at Rumours East, located at 1112 Woodland Street in East Nashville, the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m. School of Letters student Chuck Beard, owner of East Side Story, hosts the event which is recorded by WAMB to air on the radio station the following Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Recordings of the show may also be found on East Side Story’s website  This event is FREE but space is limited. Reservations may be made by calling Rumours East at 615.262.5346.


July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Student Readings

Graduate students in the Sewanee School of Letters' MFA program will read: Maggie Blake (pictured), Billy Pullen, Cindie Miller, Darby Lyons, Ward Fleissner, Catherine Penney, Carly Gates, Dwight Gray, Kelly WIlkinson, Emelie Heltsey, and Matt Hummer.  Photo: Mary Stafford




July 11, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Jane Borden

Depending on whom you ask, Jane Borden is either an Arts and Entertainment magazine editor (primarily for Time Out New York), a journalist (in venues ranging from The New York Times Magazine to Modern Bride) a television writer (Saturday Night Live), and a stand-up comedian who has appeared on Comedy Central and VH-1.  In fact she’s been all these things, and also a debutante, an undercover investigator, and the author of I Totally Meant to Do That, a comic memoir chronicling her adventures as a Southern girl set down in the wilds of Manhattan.  Reviewers compared Borden to David Sedaris and even Mark Twain (“if you shaved the moustache, added lady-parts, and dropped him in present-day Manhattan, he’d end up writing this fabulous book,” said Ed Helms).  The New York Times Magazine called it “lowbrow-brilliant.”  Jane Borden grew up in North Carolina, attended the state university in Chapel Hill, and lived in New York for several years.  Now she divides her time between there and Sewanee, where her husband Nathan Stogdill teaches at the University of the South. She’s hard at work adapting her memoir for a television series.  Learn more about her at her web site:




July 2, 2012 at 5:00 am

Editor Panel with Viking/Penguin Editors Liz Van Hoose and Kevin Doughten

For students only:  Liz Van Hoose, Sewanee C'99, and Kevin Doughten are editors at Viking/Penguin. Liz is a fiction editor, and Kevin is a non-fiction editor and edited David Haskell's The Forest Unseen. These fabulous editors will bring word from book publishing's epicenter. They'll take your questions after a short presentation. Photo: Mary Stafford




June 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

David Haskell

David Haskell is Professor of Biology at the University of the South, where he teaches courses in Ornithology, Evolutionary Biology, and Biodiversity.  The author or co-author of many scientific papers in these disciplines, Haskell has recently turned his hand to a very different kind of writing in The Forest Unseen: A Year’s Watch in Nature, published in March of this year.  A genuinely novel literary experiment, The Forest Unseen follows the life—plant, animal, and human—of a single square meter of Tennessee old-growth forest over the course of a year.   This patch of ground—“the mandala,” Haskell calls it—becomes a window through which the usually invisible occurrences of nature can be revealed as stories, revelations of the complex interrelationships connecting microorganisms, flora, fauna, and ourselves.  The book is earning impressive reviews, the Wall Street Journal praising its “encompassing and generous vision,” and Kirkus, in a starred review, admiring the “extraordinary, intimate view of life” which it affords.  The renowned naturalist E.O. Wilson calls The Forest Unseen “a new genre of nature writing, located between science and poetry.”   For more information about Haskell, visit the web site for his book: : . Photo: Buck Butler.




June 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Faculty Reading with Danny Anderson and Holly Goddard Jones

Poet Danny Anderson’s work has appeared in Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, Harper’s, The New Republic, and Best American Poetry, among other places. He is the author of two poetry collections, Drunk in Sunlight and January Rain, and the editor of The Selected Poems of Howard Nemerov. His honors include a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bogliasco Foundation. Educated at the University of Cincinnatti and The Johns Hopkins University, he is Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Oregon.

Holly Goddard Jones will have a new book out spring 2013: The Next Time You See Me. Her first novel, Girl Trouble, was published by Harper Perennial in 2009 to enthusiastic acclaim from oracles as diverse as Erin McGraw and O magazine. Her fiction has appeared in such journals as The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, and The Gettysburg Review and been anthologized in New Stories from the South and Best American Mystery Stories.  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. To learn more visit




June 13, 2012 at 4:30 pm

Kevin Wilson

Kevin Wilson, who grew up just a few miles from Sewanee, is the author of the acclaimed short story collection Tunneling to the Center of the Earth and the even more acclaimed novel The Family Fang.  Concerning the former, author Owen King wrote that “Kevin Wilson is the unholy child of George Saunders and Carson McCullers,” adding “Jesus Christ this guy is good.”  It won the Shirley Jackson Award and the National Library Association’s prestigious Alex Award.  And as for The Family Fang, it has been praised by People as “a wacky wonderful debut” and by The Wall Street Journal for covering “complex psychological ground.” “Wilson’s inventive genius never stops for a rest break,” adds National Public Radio—and now comes the news that actress Nicole Kidman has bought rights to The Family Fang and will star in the movie herself. Once a dorm counselor for the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, Wilson received his B.A. from Vanderbilt University and his MFA from the University of Florida. He lives in Sewanee, where he serves as Assistant Professor of English and Coordinator of the Creative Writing program. For more about Kevin Wilson, visit his website:




July 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

David Wyatt

David Wyatt is the author of several literary studies, a memoir, and a history of California.  His writing in all these genres is characterized by its critical acumen and scholarly depth, its effortless interdisciplinarity and graceful prose, and by its willingness to surrender the scholar's mask of impersonality by foregrounding the critic's own life and experience. Reviewers found The Fall Into Eden, a literary history of his native state, "an elegant, graceful, and moving book, a kind of hymn to California," and they pronounced Out of the Sixties: Storytelling and the Vietnam Generation "an uncanny, indispensable dialogue on the vexed relationship between art and society."  The same virtues are on display in Five Fires: Race, Catastrophe, and the Shaping of California, (an "elegiac salute to California, our strangest, saddest, most enchanting state") and his memoir of 9/11 and its aftermath, And the War Came (a work of "truly astonishing storytelling, an unprecedented combination of autobiography and reflective essay").  His newest is Secret Histories, an overview of modern American fiction from Frank Norris to Phillip Roth, Toni Morrison, and Cormac McCarthy.  David Wyatt has taught at the University of Virginia and is now Professor of English at the University of Maryland;  he has won awards for teaching and scholarship at both institutions.



July 6, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Nick Flynn

Nick Flynn's works include two memoirs (Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment), two poetry collections (Some Ether and Blind Huber), and a play (Alice Invents a Little Game and Alice Always Wins). His new book of poetry, The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, will be published in 2011. His honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for the Art of the Memoir, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for poetry, and a fellowship from the Library of Congress. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The New York Times Book Review, and NPR's This American Life. "Flynn's authentic voice," reports The Village Voice, "holds us rapt, keeping both the tragic and the redemptive possibilities open." He has worked as a ship's captain, an electrician, and a case-worker at a homeless shelter, and currently teaches at the University of Houston Creative Writing Program each spring. He has also served as the "field poet" on the Academy Award-nominated film Darwin's Nightmare. His own best-known book, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, will soon be a major motion picture. To learn more, visit Nick Flynn's website:



June 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm

Radney Foster and Darden Smith

Texas native Radney Foster is well known to Sewanee audiences, having graduated from the college and returned often to visit and play. As a performer he formed half of the successful duo “Foster and Lloyd” in the 1980’s, then went solo in 1992 with the release of Del Rio, TX, 1959. That record has been followed, so far, by seven others, including Labor of Love, Are You Ready for the Big Show?, and most recently, Revival. As a songwriter he is responsible for such songs as “Nobody Wins,” “Just Call Me Lonesome,” “I’m In,” and others, hits for himself and for such artists as Keith Urban, the Dixie Chicks, and Sara Evans, who calls him “one of the most talented singer/songwriters of our time.”

Darden Smith, another Texan, has been recording since 1986, with 13 albums to his credit now. Records such as Native Soil, Sunflower, Extra, Extra, and the recent Marathon have won commercial success and critical praise in both Britain and the United States. Sometimes likened to John Hiatt, Leonard Cohen, and Elvis Costello, Smith has been called (by the All Music Guide) “a singer-songwriter blessed with an uncommon degree of intelligence, depth, and compassion.”



July 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

David Hudgins

A native of Dallas, Texas, David Hudgins was educated at Duke University and the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University. After working as a trial and appellate lawyer at a Dallas firm for eight years, he gave up the law to pursue screenwriting, eventually the feature screenplay Scottsboro to LeVar Burton’s Eagle Nation Films. Since moving with his family to Los Angeles, he has worked on the television series Everwood and, for four seasons, as both screenwriter and Executive Producer of the acclaimed series Friday Night Lights. The program won the prestigious Peabody Award for Excellence in Television Broadcasting in its freshman season, and Mr. Hudgins has received three nominations for a Writers’ Guild Award for his work on it. In 2009 he created Past Life, a one-hour drama series for Warner Brothers Television and the Fox Network, and now serves as Showrunner and Executive Producer for the program. 



June 30, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Philip Weinstein

Philip Weinstein is Alexander Griswold Cummins Professor of English at Swarthmore College, where he teaches courses in modern Comparative literature as well as British and American Fiction. He is the author of six critical books, including The Semantics of Desire: Changing Models of Identity from Dickens to Joyce, Unknowing: The Work of Modernist Fiction, and three splendid books concerning William Faulkner: Faulkner’s Subject: A Cosmos No One Owns, What Else But Love? The Ordeal of Race in Faulkner and Morrison, and, just last year, Becoming Faulkner. Recipient of several National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships and an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, Professor Weinstein is a former president of the William Faulkner Society.



January 16, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Carol Cassella

Dallas native Carol Wiley Cassella majored in English Literature at Duke University and graduated from Baylor College of Medicine in 1986. She practices anesthesia in Seattle and is a freelance medical writer specializing in global public health advocacy for the developing world. Her first novel, Oxygen, was published in 2008 to strong reviews. To The Denver Post it was “the work of a writer who is in full command of her craft,” to The Seattle Times “a strong first novel,” and to Susan Wiggs in WRITERS ARE READERS.COM, “a haunting debut novel…a story of tragedy and redemption, intricately plotted and told in a compelling voice.” Cassella lives in Bainbridge Island, Washington with her husband and their two sets of twins. Her second novel, Healer, is due out in July of this year. 



July 8, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Stewart O'Nan

Stewart O'Nan is the indefatigably prolific author of the recently published Songs for the Missing, the recently filmed Snow Angels, and twelve other books. These include Last Night at the Lobster (about an unsuccessful seafood restaurant), A Prayer for the Dying (about a diphtheria epidemic in 19th-century Wisconsin), The Names of the Dead (about a Vietnam veteran and his problems), The Speed Queen (about a condemned serial killer writing to her favorite author, Stephen King) and Faithful (a non-fiction account of the 2004 baseball season which O'Nan co-wrote with none other than Stephen King, a friend and fellow Boston Red Sox fan). O'Nan is not, in other words, one of those writers who has only one story to tell and tells it over and over. Rather, his distinction (apart from the steady regularity with which he produces new books) is his remarkable ability to imagine lives radically unlike his own and unlike one another. O'Nan does find himself drawn to everyday people (Everyday People is, in fact, the title of one of his novels) and, according to a reviewer for the The New York Times, to "the terrors of everyday life-nightmares, violent crimes, wars-as a channel to the most intimate reaches of the human mind." Or, as a writer for The Boston Globe once put it, "O'Nan's gift has always been to make us look beyond the pretty picture, straight into the eye of the human condition." His works have been named "Notable Books of the Year" by the American Library Association and the New York Times, have been awarded the William Faulkner Prize and the Due Heinz Prize for Literature, and won him recognition as one of Granta magazine's 20 Best Young American Novelists. A graduate of Cornell University, he has taught there and at Trinity College and, in a previous career as an aerospace engineer, once worked on the Space Shuttle. Please visit (and countless other web sites) for more information about Stewart O'Nan and his work. 



June 15, 2009 at 4:30 pm

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the author of five books of poetry, including Blood Dazzler, chronicling the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and one of NPR's top five books of 2008; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a National Poetry Series selection, winner of the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award and's Best Poetry Book of 2006. She also authored the ground-breaking history Africans in America and the award-winning children's book Janna and the Kings. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, TriQuarterly and many other journals, and has been performed around the world, including Carnegie Hall, the Poets Stage in Stockholm, Rotterdam's Poetry International, the Aran Islands International Poetry and Prose Festival, the Bahia Festival, the Schomburg Center and on tour in Germany, Austria and Holland. She is a Pushcart Prize winner, a Cave Canem faculty member and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition's history. She is on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. 



July 9, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Timothy Steele

Timothy Steele is the author of five books of poetry, including Sapphics Against Anger and Other Poems, The Color Wheel, and most recently Toward the Winter Solstice. He is equally well-known for his two important books on the place of meter in English verse: Missing Measures: Modern Poetry and the Revolt Against Meter and All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification. He has also edited The Poems of J.V. Cunningham and contributed articles and reviews to such journals as The Southern Review, The Los Angeles Times, and Modern Fiction Studies, and to The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry and The Cambridge Companion to Robert Frost. His work has been recognized by, among other honors, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the SouthwestReview’s Elizabeth Matchett Stover Award, and the Peter I.B. Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets.



June 23, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Eric J. Sundquist

Eric J. Sundquist is UCLA Foundation Professor of Literature at the University of California at Los Angeles, having previously served on the faculties of Vanderbilt, Northwestern, and the University of California at Berkeley. Among his eight books on American Literature are several indispensable classics of the field: Home as Found: Authority and Genealogy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, Faulkner: The House Divided, and To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature. He is also the co-author of Volume 2 of the Cambridge History of American Literature, the editor of several essay-collections and anthologies, and the former editor of the Cambridge University Press book series in American Literature and Culture. Sundquist is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and in 2006 he was one of four recipients of the Mellon Foundation’s Distinguished Achievement Award, known as “the richest prize in the humanities.”



June 17, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Ted Leeson

Ted Leeson studied physics at Marquette University and English literature at the University of Virginia, where he received his PhD in 1984. Since then he has taught literature and creative writing courses at Oregon State University, where he holds the rank of Senior Instructor. In the mean time he has emerged as one of the most eloquent personal essayists now at work, one whose work is often compared to that of Montaigne, Thoreau, Wendell Berry and Annie Dillard. This is all the more remarkable since, unlike Montaigne and the rest, Leeson writes mainly about fly-fishing. He has published essays and journalism in Gray’s Sporting Journal, Field and Stream, Fly Rod and Reel, and other magazines, and is the author of two well-received books, Jerusalem Creek and The Habit of Rivers. In 2007 Fly Rod and Reel magazine named him “Angler of the Year.”



July 12, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Claire Messud

Claire Messud's first novel, When the World Was Steady, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and her second,The Last Life, was a Publisher's Weekly Best Book of the Year and an Editor's Choice at The Village Voice. They were followed by The Hunters, a collection of novellas, also a PEN/Faulkner finalist. All three books were New York Times Notable books of the Year. Her most recent book, The Emperor’s Children, has confirmed her reputation as one of the most accomplished young novelists in the United States by winning remarkable reviews and sales since its publication in August, 2006. Claire Messud has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Radcliffe Fellow, and a visiting writer at both Amherst and Sewanee, and is the current recipient of the Strauss Living Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.



July 9, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Christopher Camuto

Christopher Camuto is the author of three non-fiction books on the human and natural history of the southern Appalachian mountains: A Fly-Fisherman's Blue Ridge, Another Country: Journeying Toward the Cherokee Mountains, and Hunting From Home: A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains. He has published journalism in National Geographic and poetry in The Sewenee Review. Holder of the Ph.D. in English from the Unversity of Virginia, he teaches creative writing and American and Native American literature at Bucknell University. 



July 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Jason Sommer

Jason Sommer holds degrees from Brandeis, Stanford (where he held the Mirrielees Fellowship in Poetry), and St. Louis University and has taught there, and at University College, Dublin. He has published three poetry collections (Lifting the Stone, Other People's Troubles, and The Man Who Sleeps in My Office) and the translator of three novellas by Wang Xiabobo. His verse has appeared in The New Republic, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and other magazines, and in several anthologies, including The New American Poets. Recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant and the coveted Whiting Foundation Writers' Award, he has served since 1985 as Professor of English and Poet-in-Residence at Fontbonne University.



June 26, 2007 at 4:30 pm

William L. Andrews

A scholar of Southern and African American Literature, William Andrews is the author of The Literary Career of Charles W. Chesnutt and the acclaimed To Tell a Free Story: The First Century of Afro-American Autobiography. Among his many edited works are The Norton Anthology of African American Literature, The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, and The Literature of the American South: A Norton Anthology. He also edits North American Slave Narratives, Beginnings to 1920, a massive digitized library which aspires to collect every American slave biography or autobiography. His most recent project has been to discover, edit, and re-publish Julia Collins's The Curse of Caste, the first novel published by an African American woman. William Andrews is the E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at the University of North Carolina, where he also serves as Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities. 



June 14, 2007 at 4:30 pm

Marjorie Garber

Marjarie Garber is one of the most prolific and versatile scholars of her generation, the author or editor of books on dogs (Dog Love), houses (Sex and Real Estate: Why We Love Houses), American Religion (One Nation Under God?). the Rosenberg Trial (Secret Agents), and many other topics. But she is best known for her scholarship on Shakespeare including the recent and award-winning Shakespeare After All, which distilled her thirty years of teaching a legendary course at Harvard and Yale. Her essays and journalism have appeared in Harper's, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and other magazines and newspapers. Marjorie Garber serves as president of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, as a senior trustee of the English Institute, and as William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard University.



June 11, 2007 at 4:30 pm

James Wood

When James Wood's first book of criticism, The Broken Estate, appeared in 1999, it became common to call the thirty-four-year old author "the best literary critic of his generation." His admirers have included Susan Sontag, Harold Bloom, Cynthia Orick and Saul Bellow, with whom Wood taught a class at Boston University. He solidified his reputation with a second book of critical essays, The Irresponsible Self: On Laughter and the Novel, and diversified it by writing a highly-praised novel, The Book Against God. James Wood serves as an editor of both The New Republic and The Kenyon Review and writes regularly for The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books. He serves as Professor of the Practice of Literary Criticism at Harvard.



July 14, 2006 at 3:00 pm

John Hollander

John Hollander is simultaneously one of the leading poets and one of the most significant literary scholars of his generation. His poetic career was launched when W.H. Auden chose him for the prestigious Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1958, for A Crackling of Thorns, his first book. Since then he has published seventeen more books of poetry, including Types of Shape, Spectral Emanations, Powers of Thirteen, Tesserae, and Picture Window. His works of literary criticism include Rhyme’s Reason, The Work of Poetry, and others. As a scholarly editor he prepared the Library of America volumes Nineteenth-Century American Poetry and the Henry James: Complete Stories, among many others. His honors include the Bollingen Prize and a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant.”



July 10, 2006 at 4:30 pm

Wyatt Prunty

Since 1980 Wyatt Prunty has published seven books of poetry, including What Women Know, What Men Believe, The Run of the House, Since the Noon Mail Stopped, and, most recently, Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems. He is also the author of the acclaimed critical book Fallen From the Symboled World: Precedents for the New Formalism. His poems and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, the New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, and the Yale, Southern, Sewanee, and Kenyon Reviews, among other places. He has been the recipient of a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation and of a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins University (where he held the Elliot Coleman Chair), Washington and Lee University, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference; currently he serves as Carleton Professor of English at the University of the South, where he also directs the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.



July 6, 2006 at 8:00 pm

Franklin Burroughs

Franklin Burroughs is one of the most distinguished writers of Creative Nonfiction at work today. He is the author of two books and many essays, both personal and academic. Billy Watson’s Croker Sack (1992), a collection of essays about the outdoors, was published in 1991; it was selected as an Editor’s Choice by The Book of the Month Club, was reprinted by the Quality Paperback club, and was translated into Japanese. Horry and the Waccamaw, a nonfiction narrative, was published in 1992 and reprinted in paperback (as The River Home) the following year. His essays have been published in Harper’s, Backpacker, Kenyon Review, Sewanee Review, and many other magazines, and have been reprinted in Best American Essays and The Norton Anthology of Nature Writing. His work has been honored by a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship and by the Editor’s Prize, given for the best essay published in The American Scholar for 2003. A graduate of the University of the South, Franklin Burroughs took the M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Harvard and served as Professor of English at Bowdoin College until his retirement in 2002.




June 29, 2006 at 4:30 pm

A. Manette Ansay

Manette Ansay began writing as a New Year's resolution on January 1, 1988 and published her first novel, Vinegar Hill, in 1994.  Since then she has published three more novels (Sister, River Angel, and Midnight Champagne) a story-collection, Read This and Tell Me What it Says, and a memoir, Limbo.  She's been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Friends of American Writers Prize, and two Great Lakes Book Awards, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.  In 1999 Oprah Winfrey chose Vinegar Hill as her November Book Club Selection.  Manette Ansay has taught at Vanderbilt University, Warren Wilson College, and the University of the South, and is currently Associate Professor of English at the University of Miami.  Her newest book, the novel Blue Water, will be published this spring.




June 8, 2006 at 8:00 pm

John T. Irwin

John Irwin is equally distinguished as a poet and as a scholar of American and Comparative Literature.  His major scholarly works are Doubling and Incest/Repetition and Revenge: A Speculative Reading of Faulkner, American Hieroglyphic: The Symbol of the Egyptian Hieroglyphics in the American Renaissance, and A Mystery to a Solution: Poe, Borges, and the Analytical Detective Story, which won both the Christian Gauss Prize from Phi Beta Kappa and the Aldo Scaglione Prize from the Modern Language Association. He has also published, under the pen name John Bricuth, three books of poetry: The Heisenberg Variations, Just Let Me Say This About That, and As Long as It's Big.  Formerly the editor of The Georgia Review, John Irwin was for many years the chairman of the famous Writing Seminars at the Johns Hopkins University, where he still teaches as Decker Professor in the Humanities.