To acquire wisdom, one must observe

‘Writers and Readers at Brandeis’: a panel discussing literature in academic and creative spaces

On Oct. 13, Barbara Mandel Professor of the Humanities John Plotz welcomed Professor of English Stephen McCauley, Associate Professor of English Elizabeth Bradfield and Xuefei Jin (Ha Jin), MA’89, PhD ’93, H’05, to a panel called “Writers and Readers at Brandeis” as one of many events taking place for the 75th Anniversary celebration.

To start off the discussion, each panelist read a piece of literature, sharing the story behind it. Jin, a professor of English at Boston University and a Brandeis alumnus, was the first to contribute, sharing the history behind his upcoming novel “The Woman Back From Moscow” which is set to come out on Nov. 14, 2023. Professor Bradfield, a co-director of the Creative Writing program, followed this up with two readings—a poem about the Pulse nightclub shooting and a reading from “Cascadia: A Field Guide through Art, Ecology, and Poetry,” which on the book’s website is noted to be a collection that “brings together art, poetry, and stories holding scientific, sensory, and cultural knowledge to celebrate and illuminate Cascadia.”

Meanwhile, Professor McCauley, the other co-director of the Creative Writing Program, chose to read from a former student’s senior thesis, a piece which, due to COVID-19, wasn’t able to be recognized at the usual thesis celebration. 

After these readings, Plotz posed multiple questions to the panelists, including the difference of teaching at Brandeis versus other institutions, as well as a discussion of how each writer approached the idea of “genre” and crossing between them in their writing careers.

As questions were opened to the crowd, multiple audience members came up to the microphone to pose questions to the panelists, leading to discussions on topics such as memory, as well as how the panelists addressed the emergence of artificial intelligence in the academic and Creative Writing space. 

This event, which took place at the Wasserman Cinematheque, ended with audience members coming up to the panelists afterward in open discussion, the event closing with a relaxed air buzzing with dialogue.

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