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Contemporary American Literature: Writers House Fellows Seminar: Russell Banks, James Alan McPherson, and Lyn Hejinian

ENGL 285.302
M 2-5


This is the sixth annual Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar, which features visits by very eminent writers as "Fellows" of the Kelly Writers House, the student-conceived writing arts collaborative at 3805 Locust Walk. The seminar is taught by Professor Al Filreis, Kelly Professor of English and Faculty Director of the Writers House, and will include extended visits to the class by Russell Banks, award-winning novelist (THE SWEET HEREAFTER, AFFLICTION, CLOUDSPLITTER); James Alan McPherson, peerless short story writer and the first African American ever to win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (for ELBOW ROOM); and Lyn Hejinian, poet, essayist, and translator whose experimentalism has been profoundly influential.

Throughout the semester we will study the work of these three writers--and some of the materials "around" them that make the particular contemporary context in which each operates so compelling. Enrollment in the course is strictly limited. Students will be enrolled only by permit of the instructor and are asked to send a one- or two-paragraph statement by email to describing why they want to participate in this project and what academic (or perhaps non-academic) experience makes them especially eligible. Participants will write frequent short position papers; will engage in team projects following up each of the Fellows' visits; will be involved in interviewing the three Fellows; and will take a comprehensive final examination. The Writers House Fellows program is made possible by a generous grant from Paul Kelly. The 2003 Fellows syllabus is here: The previous years' Fellows are described here:, including links to digital video files of the writers' visits.


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