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Literary Arts

The English Department annually sponsors and co-sponsors significant contemporary writers and scholars, often winners of Pulitzer Prizes, MacArthur "genius grants," National Book Awards and various other honors. All writers brought to campus work with students personally; all public presentations are free. For more information, please email Kathy Barton at or call 704-894-2254.

Key: 900 Room = C. Shaw Smith 900 Room, Alvarez College Union; BT = Barber Theatre, Cunningham Fine Arts Center; CI = Carolina Inn; DFPH = Duke Family Performance Hall, Knobloch Campus Center; TTH = Tyler-Tallman Hall, Sloan Music Center

Past Events 2017-18

Painting Lenin After Lenin, Molly Brunson

Molly Brunson is an associate professor in Slavic Languages and Literatures and History of Art at Yale University. The lecture was organized in conjunction with the Lenin Lives exhibition at the Van Every/Smith Galleries.

A Staged Reading of The Secret Room: A String Quartet by Kazim Ali

Kazim Ali, 2017 McGee Professor of Creative Writing, and English major Ryan Rotella '17, staged this literary production.

A Dragon for All Seasons: On Evgeny Shvarts's The Dragon, Dr. Laurence Senelick

Laurence Senelick is Fletcher Professor of Drama and Oratory at Tufts University.

Davidson Reads: Andrea Applebee and Sarah Perry

Sarah Perry '04 read from her memoir After the Eclipse and Andrea Applebee ‘06 shared samples of her poetry during the Davidson Reads event sponsored by the English Department.

An Evening With Sheri Reynolds

Sheri Reynolds '89 is the author of the novels Bitterroot Landing, The Rapture of Canaan (an Oprah Book club selection and New York Times bestseller), A Gracious Plenty, Firefly Cloak, The Sweet In-Between, The Homespun Wisdom of Myrtle T. Cribb, and the play Orabelle's Wheelbarrow. She teaches creative writing and literature at Old Dominion where sh is currently the English Department chair. She makes her home in the town of Cape Charles on Virginia's eastern shore.

Conarroe Lecture: George Saunders

This year's Joel Conarroe Lecture Series features author George Saunders. Saunders' most recent novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, won the Man Booker Prize for 2017. He is the recipient of a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship ("Genius" Award), and the author of four collections of short stories, a novella, a book of essays, and an award-winning children's book. Following the lecture there will be a brief reception where Saunders will be available for book signing.

Reynolds Lecture: "Revisiting the Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead

Colson Whitehead is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the recipient of both a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Colson Whitehead's latest novel, The Underground Railroad, is the winner of both the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction and the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Sponsored by The Public Lectures Committee.

Reading: Poetry Reading by Clint Smith

Clint Smith '10 is a doctoral candidate at Harvard University and has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the National Science Foundation. He is a 2014 National Poetry Slam champion and his writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Guardian, the New Republic, the American Poetry Review and elsewhere. He is the author of Counting Descent, which won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He was born and raised in New Orleans.