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Dickinson's Stellfox Program Offers Students Virtual Literary Master Classes

Stellfox Award: A Visual History

Robert Frost (center), whose visit inspired Jean Louise Stellfox to establish the Stellfox Prize, poses on the steps of Old West with Dickinson students in 1959.

Students to gain insight on craft of writing from five contemporary literary masters

As the college continues to navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has taken many steps to ensure student learning and engagement do not waver. Accordingly, though the pandemic has made the usual celebration of the Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholar and Writers Program impossible this semester, Dickinson is taking a creative approach to preserve the spirit of the annual prize ceremony and residency.

In past years, the Stellfox Prize brought such major literary figures as Margaret Atwood, Edwidge Danticat and Boubacar Boris Diop to campus for interarts residencies that included readings, discussions, performances, lectures and an award ceremony. Throughout their residency on campus, the honorees also met informally with students and professors, sharing meals and offering advice and insight to aspiring writers.

This year, because of event restrictions and the fact that only some students are on campus, Dickinson will preserve the essence of the program through a series of virtual literary master classes instead of the usual campus visit. Five professors will virtually welcome such authors as Rita Dove and Brian Keene into their classes to provide students valuable insight into their craft. (Though the classes are not open to the public, videos of some will be available to the Dickinson community.)

“We felt, as a group, this [a traditional residency] was not something that could translate to a virtual setting," said Professor of Creative Writing and Writer-in-Residence Susan Perabo, who will be hosting a virtual master class with Ian McEwan in her advanced fiction workshop. "It would really compromise what we all felt was most important about the Stellfox, and that’s personal interaction.”

Masterclass Schedule

March 22 in Professor of Creative Writing and Writer-in-Residence Susan Perabo's advanced fiction workshop:

Ian McEwan. English novelist; author of 15 novels including Atonement and Amsterdam; winner of the Booker Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction; former Stellfox Prize recipient.


April 1 in Professor of Creative Writing and Poet-in-Residence Adrienne Su's advanced poetry workshop:

Rita Dove. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Humanities Medal, the National Medal of Arts; served a term as United States Poet Laureate; former Stellfox Prize recipient. 


April 15 in Associate Professor of English and Film Studies Greg Steirer's class, Storytelling Across Media

Brian Keene. World-renowned author of horror fiction and criticism and a central figure in the American contemporary horror-fiction scene; winner of the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster Award; author of over 50 books including the novels The RisingThe Darkness on the Edge of Town, Earthworm Gods, and the non-fiction collections End of the Road and Trigger Warnings.


April 22 in Professor of Italian and Film Studies Nicoletta Marini-Maio's class, Real and Imaginary Journeys

Amara Lakhous. Author of Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio; winner of the Prix des Libraires Algeriens, Algeria’s most prestigious literary award. 


April 29 in Associate Professor of Japanese Language and Literature Alex Bates' class, Nature and the Environment in Japanese Literature and Film

Itō Hiromi (last name: Itō). One of Japan’s preeminent contemporary poets. 

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Published March 18, 2021