As painters, filmmakers, musicians, and actors settled into the sleek new Logan Center for the Arts this past fall, the Committee on Creative Writing unpacked its boxes in Taft House, a three-story red-brick Victorian half a block away.

Previously, Creative Writing was dispersed around campus: the full-time lecturers had offices in Gates-Blake, the program chair and staff worked in Walker, and classes were scattered around campus.

Now the program has a renovated, quirky home south of the Midway at a house named for Lorado Taft (1860–1936), sculptor and University lecturer. The location holds faculty and administrative offices, a conference room, and space for the Chicago Review and student journals. Oddly shaped nooks invite students to sit, read, and write; there’s a lounge with a coffeepot and a fireplace in the foyer. Writing classes happen at Taft House and the adjoining Midway Studios—which boasts new skylights and other upgrades—or across the courtyard at the Logan Center.

Creative Writing offers 45 courses and cosponsors, along with the Poem Present series, about 50 events a year from workshops to student readings to writers’ visits. In February essayist Tom Bissell drew a crowd to a reading from his forthcoming book. The event was made possible by the Claire and Emmett Dedmon Visiting Creative Writers Program, which annually brings an established writer to explore interdisciplinary aspects of art. Novelist Jeffrey Eugenides will come to campus in May 2013 as Kestnbaum Writer in Residence; the program also has sponsored visits by Michael Ondaatje, Joyce Carol Oates, and Jhumpa Lahiri.

Like other arts programs at UChicago, Creative Writing is committed to wedding theory and practice. Classes provide time to “workshop” student writing while immersing students in literary theory, close reading of established authors, and research. Faculty are excited about the synergies possible now that writers share a designated hub in close proximity to artists and scholars working in other media. 

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON SMITH


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