by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson
Spring is Stellfox Award season at Dickinson—a time when, thanks to the generosity of Jean Louise Stellfox '60, an acclaimed writer visits campus to work with students, accept an award and deliver the traditional Stellfox address. This tradition was paused in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic, and when the time came to plan for the 2022 season, it wasn’t clear whether an in-person residency would be advisable. So the college’s Stellfox committee is mixing it up.
Dickinson welcomes several literary figures to campus this spring through the Stellfox program. The honorees will interact through Zoom with students in related classes and will deliver public livestream events. So while there will be no in-person campus residency or Stellfox Award bestowed, there will be plenty of opportunities for students to connect with writers through the Stellfox program, as in the past.
“It’s the ‘authors’ room’ edition of Stellfox,” says Nicoletta Marini-Maio, professor of Italian & film studies, who leads this year’s Stellfox project. “We wanted to turn the limitations of the pandemic into inspiring opportunities for students to ask the authors questions about their work.”
Former poet laureate Natasha Trethewey kicks off the celebrations this week with classroom virtual visits and a March 29 public reading via Zoom. Trethewey earned an MFA in poetry from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and fellowships by the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations and by Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute, among other honors.
Trethewey is the author of five poetry collections, including Monument (2018), longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award; Native Guard (2006), which garnered her the Pulitzer Prize; and Domestic Work (2000), winner of the inaugural Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the 2001 Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Book Prize and the 2001 Lillian Smith Award for Poetry. Trethewey has taught at Duke University, the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Yale University. She served two terms as the United States’ 19th poet laureate (2012 to 2014).
Wu Ming ("no name," in Chinese), is a collective of Italian writers formerly known as “Luther Blissett," who write about media, communication, politics, identity and convergence theory. The collective will present a public Q&A via Zoom.
Wu Ming will likely discuss its views on conspiracies and its connection to an infamous contemporary movement, since Wu Ming’s novel Q (1999), about unrest in 16th-century France, is said to have inspired the name of the QAnon extremist phenomenon. The group has authored a book about QAnon as well as Axes of War (2000), 54 (2002), Manituana (2007), Altai (2009), The Army of Sleepwalkers (2014), Timira (2013), Point Lenana (2013), The Invisible Everywhere (2015), among other works.
Jacob DeCarli ’22, a double major in Italian studies and international studies, is especially looking forward to attending Wu Ming’s presentation and interviewing the group prior to that event.
“I think it’s helpful for students to interact with writers in the Stellfox program, because it helps us to understand their thought processes,” says DeCarli. “Hopefully, they can inspire our academic and future work.”
Comic-book creators Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner will take part in a public Q&A via Zoom on April 19.
Rucka is a multiple-award-winning comic-book creator and writer, a screenwriter and a novelist. He is best known for his GLAAD Media Award-winning, culturally diverse superhero work for DC Comics and his multi-genre work for independent presses, such as Image Comics and Oni Press. He was the creator and screenwriter for Netflix’s The Old Guard, starring Charlize Theron. His comic-book crime series Stumptown, featuring a bisexual private investigator with a gambling problem, was adapted for television and premiered on ABC in 2019.
Cully Hamner is a comic-book creator and artist. He is best known for his culturally diverse superhero work for DC Comics, including his work as co-creator of DC’s first Latinx superhero, Blue Beetle; and for his creator-owned comic-book series RED, which was adapted into a star-studded feature film.
Hammer and Rucka have also received accolades for their joint work, Convergence: The Question, published by DC Comics in 2015.
Students should log into EngageD to register for each of these events.
Jean Louise Stellfox ’60 was inspired to become an English teacher after meeting Robert Frost during the poet’s visit to Dickinson in 1959. When she died suddenly in 2003, Stellfox’s estate provided $1.5 million to the college to continue her mission of inspiring students through literature. Stellfox wished to honor her parents with her gift, so The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program was created and continues to bring renowned literary figures to campus.
Learn more about The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program.
Published March 28, 2022