What is the Reading and Lecture Series?

Every summer, when the School of Letters convenes to study, write, and work together, we invite a number of prominent, nationally recognized writers to come speak about their work and the life of a writer.

In the past few years, this list of prestigious visitors has included Alexander Chee, Kiese Laymon, Danielle Evans, Donika Kelly, Meera Subramanian, Kevin Wilson, Stephanie Pruitt, Caroline Randall Williams, Holly Goddard Jones, Patricia Smith, Ben Fountain, and many others.

2021 Events

2020 Events

Archive of 2019 Events

Poetry Reading with 2019 John Grammer Fellow Jessica Jacobs

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

Faculty Reading with Lee Conell and Chris Bachelder

You are invited to a joint reading by our fiction faculty, Lee Conell and Chris Bachelder, on Wednesday, June 26 at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. Lee is the author of the short story collection Subcortical and Chris is the author of the novels The Throwback Special, Abbott Awaits, U.S.!, Bear v. Shark, and Lessons in Virtual Photography.

Faculty Reading with Tiana Clark

Please join us for a poetry reading from faculty member Tiana Clark. Tiana is the author of the poetry collection I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium, winner of the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition.

Faculty Reading and Conversation with Meera Subramanian

Please join us for a reading by Meera Subramanian and a conversation on environmental writing, sponsored in conjunction with the Friends of duPont Library. Meera is an award-winning independent journalist whose work has been published in national and international publications. Her book A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis was a finalist for the 2016 Orion Book Award.

What Shakespeare's Actors Know: An Inside Look at the Rehearsal and Performance Techniques in Shakespeare's Theatres

Join the American Shakespeare Center and students from Dr. Macdonald's Shakespeare class as they engage the acting techniques from Shakespeare's time, with help from actors-in-residency.

Poetry at the Edge of Silence: A Lecture with Dr. Jennifer Michael

Please kick off the Summer 2019 School of Letters Reading and Lecture Series with a lecture entitled "Poetry at the Edge of Silence" with poet and professor Dr. Jennifer Michael on Wednesday, June 5, at 4:30 pm in Gailor Auditorium. The lecture is co-sponsored by St. Mary's Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development.

Archive of 2018 Events

2018 MA & MFA Candidate Reading

Please join us as we celebrate our students and the work they have been producing in their time at the School of Letters!

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.

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.

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.

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.

Faculty Reading with 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.

The American Shakespeare Company Presents: Macbeth

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.

 

Archive of 2017 Events

“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.

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.

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.

"Exile is Arrival: Kurdish Poetry" a lecture by 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.

A Reading with 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.

John Grammer Fellow Reading with Stephanie Pruitt

Stephanie Pruitt appears as the inaugural John Grammer Fellow through the generosity of the Blake & Bailey Family Fund. Read more here: http://letters.sewanee.edu/programs/john-grammer-fellowship

A Reading with 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).

Archive of 2016 Events

A Reading with Jennine Capo Crucet

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

Take Shelter Screening

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

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.

Crimson Peak Screening

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

 

A Reading with Chris Bachelder

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

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

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

A Reading with Jennifer Habel

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

Bonnie Bishop in Concert

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

A Reading with Ed Tarkington

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

A Reading with Hank Lewis

Author Hank Lewis will read from his fiction on Wednesday, April 13, at 5:30 PM 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.

 

Archive of 2015 Events

A Reading with Amy Greene

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

A Reading with Lucy Alibar and a Screening of Beast of the Southern Wild

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.

 

A Reading with Diane Thiel

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

A Reading with Harrison Scott Key

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

From Plate to Page: Panel on Food Writing

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

 

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

A Reading with Holly Goddard Jones

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