C.W. Smith Event

C.W. Smith Lecture and Book Signing

6:30 p.m. - Reception

7:00 p.m. - Program

Book signing to follow. Books available for purchase at the event.

C.W. Smith's new story collection, The Museum of Marriage, showcases characters struggling with the demand and mysteries of solitary life, romance and marriage. Co-sponsored by DeGolyer Library, Friends of SMU Libraries and the SMU English department.






Liberal Education: What, Why, & for Whom?

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Dr. Roosevelt Montás

Hyer Hall 100

Reception: 6:00 pm

Lecture: 6:30 pm

Abstract: Montás tells the story of how a liberal education transformed his life, and offers an intimate account of the relevance of the Great Books today. In a time of historic socioeconomic inequality and political polarization, who is liberal education really for? What are its premises and its promises? To what extent does it reproduce and to what extent does it challenge inherited structures of social privilege? Why is it under threat in colleges and universities?


Perez FlyerBrown Father in Contemporary Media: A Slow Approach to Race, Class, and Gender

Dr. Domino Perez

UT Austin

Wednesday, April 12, 2023



6:00 pm: Reception

6:30: Lecture


Join us for an insightful discussion with Professor Domino Renee Perez from the University of Texas at Austin's Department of English, as she unpacks the legibility and illegibility of Brown fathers in contemporary media. In her bookFatherhood in the Borderlands: A Daughter’s Slow Approach, Perez reveals how form, genre, and subject work to determine the roles Mexican American fathers are allowed to occupy. Through personal anecdotes and literary analysis, Perez will provide a thought-provoking discussion on challenging stereotypes in the borderlands.


Conversation on creativity posterA Conversation About Creativity

Viet Thanh Nguyen

Natasha Trethewey

February 20, 6:00 pm:

Natasha Trethewey reading, Bridwell library, room 121 (The Blue Room), cosponsored by the English Department and Bridwell library. A reception will follow

February 21, 6:00 pm:

Natasha Trethewey and Viet Thanh Nguyen discussion of creativity, McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. Cosponsored by the English Department, the Dallas Literary Festival, and the Department of World Languages and Literature.  A book signing will follow.

February 22, 12:00 pm:

Viet Thanh Nguyen reading, Bridwell library, room 121 (The Blue Room), cosponsored by the English Department and Bridwell library

Bio: Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He has published two novels, a short story collection, and two nonfiction books, including Nothing Ever Dies: Vietnam and the Memory of War, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in nonfiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award in General Nonfiction.

Natasha Trethewey won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her collection, Native Guard, and served two terms as Poet Laureate of the United States. The author of five poetry collections and two nonfiction books, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.



Weltman Gilbert PosterTitle: Jekyll and Hyde: Fiction, Film, and Broadway Musical

Thursday, November 3, 2022 

Dr. Sharon Weltman

McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall 306 

Bio: Sharon Aronofsky Weltman is Professor and Chair of English at TCU and Belcher Visiting Fellow in Victorian Studies at St Hugh’s College, Oxford University. Her research ranges across time and discipline from the Victorian author John Ruskin to the Broadway musical Sweeney Todd. A co-editor of Nineteenth-Century Theatre and Film, her publications include Victorians on Broadway: Literature, Adaptation, and the Modern American Musical, winner of the 2021 SCMLA book award (University of Virginia Press, 2020); Performing the Victorian: John Ruskin and Identity in Theater, Science, and Education (Ohio State University Press, 2007), and Ruskin’s Mythic Queen: Gender Subversion in Victorian Culture (Outstanding Academic Book, Choice magazine, Ohio State University Press, 1999). Her article “Melodrama, Purimspiel, and Jewish Emancipation” on the first Anglo-Jewish woman playwright—Elizabeth Polack—won the 2020 Nineteenth Century Studies Association Best Article Prize, and her essay “Performing Goblin Market” was named Kurt Weill Foundation Award Finalist for Best Essay on Musical Theater in 1999. In 2014, she directed the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers “Performing Dickens: Oliver Twist and Great Expectations on Page, Stage, and Screen.” She has won multiple teaching and research awards as well as grants and fellowships.



renaissance posterWhat We Can Learn About Error From the Renaissance


Amanda Atkinson, Ph.D.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall 306 

Abstract: Early Modern England is often perceived as a culture obsessed with correcting and eliminating error. But this talk explores how many Renaissance poets, scientists, and philosophers understood error as a process of wandering exploration. These authors embraced error – both its potential and real effects – as necessary for learning, creativity, and discovery.







Event poster

Thursday, October 20, 2022

A Reading by the SMU Hughes Fellows in Creative Writing

McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall 306 



Afsheen Farhadi & Samyak Shertok

Bio: Join us for a joint reading by the English Department's inaugural Hughes Fellows in Creative Writing. Afsheen Farhadi is the Fellow in Prose and Samyak Shertok is the Fellow in Poetry.







Gilbert poster

Title: Ecstasy

Thursday, February 10, 2022 

Jia Tolentino  

Jia Tolentino reads from an essay about ecstasy as the link between virtue and vice, drugs and religion, and answers questions about the writing process.

Bio: Jia Tolentino is a staff writer at the New Yorker and the author of the essay collection Trick Mirror. Formerly, she was the deputy editor at Jezebel and a contributing editor at the Hairpin. She grew up in Texas, received her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, and got her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. In 2020, she received a Whiting Award as well as the Jeannette Haien Ballard Prize. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times Magazine and Pitchfork, among other places.






Hopper Flyer

Title: Writing about Family

Thursday, November 18, 2021 



Abstract: “The family,” Dodie Smith writes, “that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to.” Much of the literature we encounter is in some sense writing about family—an attempt to represent and/or maneuver between real or imagined familial tentacles. This talk focuses specifically on contemporary creative nonfiction, and the flourishing genres of essays and memoir about family such as Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and Kiese Laymon’s Heavy. What are some of the motivations, preconditions, ethical considerations, and practical challenges involved in writing about one’s own family? What forms and methods do writers use and why? And what does this kind of writing have to teach us about the relational nature of creative work?

Bio: Dr. Briallen Hopper is the author of Hard to Love: Essays and Confessions (Bloomsbury, 2019), a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, CBC Best International Nonfiction Book of the Year, and finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her essays have appeared in Los Angeles Review of BooksThe New RepublicNew York Magazine/The CutThe Paris Review, the Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is co-editor-in-chief of the online religion and culture magazine Killing the Buddha and a contributing editor at the independent press And Other Stories. She teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Queens College, CUNY, where she is Assistant Professor at English. 




lecture poster archive

Title: How to Think Like Shakespeare, in 14 Stages of Mind

Thursday, October 21, 2021 

Dr. Scot Newstok



Abstract: The educational assumptions that shaped Shakespeare were strikingly at odds from our own. Yet thinkers trained in this unyielding system generated world-shifting insights, founding fields of knowledge that we still study. Thinking like Shakespeare disentangles a whole host of today’s confused educational binaries. We now act as if work precludes play; imitation impedes creativity; tradition stifles autonomy; constraint limits innovation; discipline somehow contradicts freedom; engagement with what is past and foreign occludes what is present and native. Yet Shakespeare’s era delighted in exposing these kinds of dilemmas as false: play emerges through work; creativity through imitation; autonomy through tradition; innovation through constraints; freedom through discipline. It’s by revivifying the foreign country of the past that we can make the present our own.

Bio: Dr. Scott Newstok is a Professor of English at Rhodes College and is the Director of the Pearce Shakespeare Endowment. He teaches literature of the English Renaissance as well as film, rhetoric, education, lyric poetry, and the humanities. Professor Newstok has received the 2012 Campus Life Award for Outstanding Faculty Member; the 2016 Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Teaching; and the 2021 Clarence Day Award for Outstanding Research and Creative Activity. Dr. Newstok has published five books: a scholarly edition of Kenneth Burke′s Shakespeare criticism; a collection of essays on Macbeth and race (co-edited with Ayanna Thompson); a monograph on early modern English epitaphs; an edition of Michael Cavanagh's Paradise Lost: A Primer (CUAP 2020); and How to Think Like Shakespeare (Princeton, 2020).

Moten Gilbert PosterTitle: Braids and Rows: Notes on Notes

Thursday, April 29, 2021 

Fred Moten



Abstract: "Tiling, Lining Notes" and Tilling, Limning Notes" are two poems written in response to great artists - the extraordinary saxophonist and composer Sam Rivers and the great painter Jack Whitten. They are linked by their co-presence in the downtown New York art world in the 1970s, by their commitment to black aesthetic experimentation. Both poems attempt to extend that commitment and to draw some parallels between music, painting, criticism and city life.

Bio: Fred Moten is Professor in the Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts. He holds an A.B. from Harvard and a Ph. D from the University of California, Berkeley. Moten teaches courses and conducts research in black studies, performance studies, poetics and critical theory. He is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003); Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works, 2009); B. Jenkins (Duke University Press, 2010); The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions, 2014), The Little Edges (Wesleyan University Press, 2015), The Service Porch(Letter Machine Editions, 2016), a three-volume collection of essays whose general title is consent not to be a single being (Duke University Press, 2017, 2018) and All that Beauty (Letter Machine Editions, 2019). Moten is also co-author, with Stefano Harney, of The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (Minor Compositions/Autonomedia, 2013) and A Poetics of the Undercommons (Sputnik and Fizzle, 2016) and, with Wu Tsang, of Who touched me? (If I Can’t Dance, I Don't Want to be Part of Your Revolution, 2016). Moten has served on the editorial boards of Callaloo, Discourse, American Quarterly and Social Text; as a member of the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine; on the board of directors of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, City University of New York; and on the advisory board of Issues in Critical Investigation, Vanderbilt University.

Profaning and Passion PosterTitle: Profaning the Passions: Modern Drama After the Anti-Christ

Dr. Rebecca Kastleman

Thursday, February 25, 2021



Abstract: This talk examines modern reinventions of the passion play, showing how this genre facilitated far-reaching artistic experiments on twentieth-century stages. Playwrights including Yeats, Djuna Barnes, and Sadakichi Hartmann harnessed this form to reconsecrate the theater for aesthetic inquiry, while disrupting secular humanist narratives that had prevailed over the bourgeois theater.

Bio: Dr. Kastleman is a research professor from Southern Methodist University. Her scholarship tracks the global trajectories of modern theater and performance, with an emphasis on British and American drama in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Her work has appeared in venues including Theatre JournalModern DramaTheatre History Studies, American Theatre, The Year's Work in Critical and Cultural Theory, and Modernism/modernity Print Plus.

Gaitskill PosterThursday, October 22, 2020

Mary Gaitskill 



Bio: Gaitskill’s honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002 and a PEN/Faulkner Award nomination for Because They Wanted To in 1998. Veronica (2005) was a National Book Award finalist, as well as a National Book Critics Circle finalist for that year. Her story “Secretary” was the basis for the film of the same name and her most recent work, “This is Pleasure,” a long short story about the #MeToo movement that first appeared in The New Yorker, was recently published by Pantheon

Gaitskill has taught at UC Berkeley, the University of Houston, New York University, The New School, Brown University, in the MFA program at Temple University[4] and Syracuse University. She was the Writer-In-Residence at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. As of 2020, Gaitskill is a visiting professor of literature at Claremont McKenna College.

Kiser Post Doc FlyerTitle:“Am I a Soldier?”: Photography and Identity in World War I African American Poetry 

Kelsey Kiser, Ph.D.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019 

Abstract: Walter E. Seward’s recently recoveredNegroes Call to the Colors and Soldiers Camp-life Poems(1919) depicts black soldiers’ experiences during WWI. This talk carves out a place for Seward’s work within the African American literary tradition and examines how his multidimensional use of photography and poetry posits black identity and life into the national consciousness.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Who Stole the Planet?: Colonization, Capital, and Enslavement

Dr. Priscilla Ybarra, University of North Texas

Abstract: Capital and colonization dominate hierarchies of power and compel widespread destruction up to today, but they do not do so uncontested. Chicana/x writings, over a long period of time that dates to the overlapping temporalities of Mexican American, mestiza/x, and indigenous eras, make this contestation visible.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Tilling the Wings: Poems from Tractors and Sandhill Cranes

Abraham Smith, Poet

Abstract: Abraham Smith is the author of five poetry collections--Destruction of Man (Third Man Books, 2018); Ashagalomancy (Action Books, 2015); Only Jesus Could Icefish in Summer (Action Books, 2014); Hank (Action Books, 2010); and Whim Man Mammon (Action Books, 2007)--and one coauthored fiction collection, Tuskaloosa Kills (Spork Press, 2018). In 2015, he released Hick Poetics (Lost Roads Press), a co-edited anthology of contemporary rural American poetry and related essays. His creative work has been recognized with fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, MA, and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He lives in Ogden, Utah, where he is Assistant Professor of English at Weber State University.