Literary Arts

Literary Arts Community

Literary Arts at Brown is the hub of a vibrant, campus-wide literary community with an active slate of readings, plays, festivals and performances that gives student writers unique exposure to important voices in contemporary literature.


Each year, the Department sponsors between twenty and forty on-campus readings by distinguished and experimental writers. Recent readers have included Ben Lerner, Jamaica Kincaid, Marlon James, Wole Soyinka, Michael Ondaatje, Susan Howe, Salman Rushdie, Zadie Smith, John Banville, John Kinsella, Kamau Brathwaite, Shahrnush Parsipur, and Marjorie Welish. Graduate students contribute their voices as well, through our MFA Presentation Series. In addition, Brown boasts a thriving literary scene that extends beyond the Literary Arts Program. The President’s Lecture Series, Nonfiction Writing Program, Brown Bookstore, Student Lecture Committee and Library Forum each bring many renowned writers to campus.


Thanks to the generosity of the Beinecke Foundation and an anonymous donor, Literary Arts has been able to host major literary festivals each year since 1991. Over the last decade, these festivals have brought to Brown dozens of writers, filmmakers, theater artists and musicians from a wide variety of cultures and artistic traditions.  Some of our past festivals have included a Festival of African Writing; Unspeakable Practices II: A Celebration of Vanguard Narrative; Crossing the Line, a Cuban-U.S. exchange of non-linear narrative; Original Voices, a festival of innovative women writers; Queer Tales:  A Festival of Gay Fiction; over a dozen Freedom to Write conferences, and many others.


The Literary Arts MFA Program has an active residency program that brings compelling writers to campus for week-long stays. Resident writers read the work of graduate students and meet with them in informal conferences, giving useful new perspectives on works-in-progress. Past residents at Brown have included Charles Bernstein, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Nilo Cruz, Norma Cole, Maria Irene Fornes, Jorie Graham, David Foster Wallace, and many others. In spring 2020, Jamil Jan Kochai and Caroline Bergvall are visiting through this program.


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Alumni of Brown’s Undergraduate and Graduate Programs in Literary Arts go on to have active careers as fiction writers, as poets, as playwrights, as artists of literary hypermedia, and as university teachers of creative writing, composition and literature.
Literary Arts is pleased to offer the following prizes. Entry for these prizes takes place annually in the spring semester.