By: Chelsea Cabral '18
Thanks to the efforts of English Professors Lucas Mann and Caitlin O’Neil, the English Department’s Living Literature Series has come to life and built an innovative community for students and creative writers alike.
The series works to bring nationally recognized creative writers to campus to share their work and talk to students about their writing experiences.
“Concepts and ideas that may seem abstract during discussions or readings take detailed form and shape in the setting of a reading, where students can hear from authors directly, ask questions, and start a real dialogue,” said O’Neil.
Connecting literature to the real world
Born alongside the English Department’s new creative writing minor, the series has helped Professors Mann and O‘Neil connect what they are teaching in the classroom to the real world and how contemporary literature is created in terms of its style, topic, and background.
“What might be dismissed by some as mere storytelling is actually the development of deep critical thinking skills that can give students better means of understanding why the world works the way it does, and how they might make it work better,” said O‘Neil. “We want students to know that what they’re learning is relevant to the real world.”
Inspiring budding writers to test their skills
With the series only in its infancy, Mann and O‘Neil hope that both the series and the creative writing minor inspire students and budding creative writers to test their skills and refine their craft.
“The reading series is another way to ensure that students can find a writing community to help push them in their own work,” said Mann. “My happiest moments at our events so far have come at the end, when students stick around to talk about their own work and their own ambitions.”
The Living Literature Series continues next semester
The readings have been met with great enthusiasm from visiting writers and students alike, and it has promoted a great level of insight and inspiration for students. The Living Literature Series continues this spring semester, and the English department will welcome bestselling essayist and novelist Leslie Jamison, author of The Gin Closet and The Empathy Exams, on February 1 at the University Club.
“We want to give students from all majors who love to write the chance to do so within a challenging, supportive curriculum,” said Mann. “Nothing helps a fledgling writer more than knowing that they’re not alone.”