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Topics in Contemporary American Literature: Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar: John Ashbery, Janet Malcolm, Rodrigo Garcia

ENGL 274.301

Fulfills Elective Seminar of the English Standard MajorFulfills Sector 6: 20th Century Literature of the English Standard Major

Note: Admission to this course is by permission of the instructor only. Applicants should contact Lily Applebaum at <>.

This is the 15th 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 poet John Ashbery, long-form nonfiction journalist Janet Malcolm, and screenwriter Rodrigo Garcia. Ashbery is arguably the most influential and eminent living U.S. poet. Malcolm's long essays for The New Yorker and in award-winning books focus typically on ways in which journalists and scholars find themselves entangled with their subject matter. Rodrigo Garcia's films and his adaptation and writing of scripts for television series almost always tell the stories of women.

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.  Participants must be available on three Tuesday mornings during the semester. The Writers House Fellows program is made possible by a generous grant from Paul Kelly.

fulfills requirements
Elective Seminar of the Standard Major
Sector 1: Theory and Poetics of the Standard Major