Writing Summit Showcases Prominent Scholars on Campus October 2 and 3


Pulitzer Prize-winning author and noted historian David McCullough is one of several scholars who will lecture at Dartmouth October 2 and 3 as part of “Writing Summit 2012: The Power of Writing in the Contemporary World.”

[[{“type”:“media”,“view_mode”:“media_large”,“fid”:null,“attributes”:{“class”:“media-image size-full wp-image-35511”,“typeof”:“foaf:Image”,“style”:“”,“width”:“590”,“height”:“427”,“title”:“”,“alt”:“Scholars converse in Sanborn Library, 1966”}}]] This year’s summit will revisit the themes of the groundbreaking “Dartmouth Seminar” which took place in 1966. In the one known photograph of the 1966 seminar, scholars converse in Sanborn Library. (photo by David Pierce Studio, from the Rauner Special Collections Library)

“Writing effects change and transforms knowledge,” says Christiane Donahue, director of the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric (IWR). “The speakers and respondents will offer key insights into how deep knowledge from scholarly work can be—must be—made available in broad contexts.”

The summit commemorates the 45th anniversary of a landmark writing conference, which became widely known as the “Dartmouth Seminar.” For four weeks in the late summer and early fall of 1966, 47 scholars produced groundbreaking research at the Dartmouth Seminar, discussing writing and composition and the best methods for teaching the subjects. This year’s summit will build on the discussions from over four decades ago. According to the IWR, the goal of the summit is to facilitate discussion about writing’s power and importance in the world today.

The event is sponsored by the Office of the President, the Office of the Provost, the Dean of the Faculty, and IWR. The IWR strives to support writing across disciplines. Donahue says the widespread commitment to writing across campus is remarkable, and is exemplified by the faculty and administration’s dedication to this summit.

“The many Dartmouth faculty across the disciplines who conceived and carried out this event, and the President, Provost, and Dean of the Faculty deserve immense credit for their forward thinking, hard work, and engaged investment in writing and our students’ futures,” says Donahue.

The Writing Summit 2012 will feature 12 speakers, including keynote addresses by McCullough, Katherine Bergeron, professor of music at Brown University, Hortense Spillers, professor of English at Vanderbilt University, and Steven Strogatz, professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University.

“I feel so honored by this invitation,” says Strogatz. “It’ll be fun to pick up a few tips from my colleagues—and from the audience. Plus it should be fascinating to compare our different approaches to nonfiction writing in various disciplines. This is going to be a real treat for all of us.”

Each keynote address will be followed by responses from two scholars. One scholar will be a Dartmouth faculty member and the other will be drawn from a different U.S. institution. The Dartmouth scholar will be from the discipline of the keynote speaker and the other respondent will be an expert from the field of composition and rhetoric.

Joseph Harris, associate professor of English at Duke University, will deliver introductory remarks and moderate this year’s event.

“What I find most exciting about our summit this fall is that we’ll have speakers not only from English but a wide range of disciplines,” says Harris, who has written extensively about the Dartmouth Seminar. “I’m eager to hear them talk about how learning about, say, math or history connects with learning how to do actual work in those fields, to write as a mathematician or historian.”

Donahue says it is important to think about the evolution of writing.

“Here at Dartmouth we are particularly excited about moving forward the promise of the Dartmouth Seminar: encouraging new and different ways to understand writing and to work with students on writing as we engage with a new century’s demands,” Donahue says.

Keynote speakers are:

  • Katherine Bergeron, professor of music and dean of the college at Brown University, giving a talk entitled “Listening to Write.”
  • David McCullough, a two-time winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize winner, and former president of the Society of American Historians, delivering a lecture entitled “The Good Hard Work of Writing Well.”
  • Hortense Spillers, co-founder of The Feminist Wire and the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, speaking on “Writing and States of Emergency.”
  • Steven Strogatz, noted author and the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cornell University, giving a lecture entitled “Doing Math in Public.”
Dartmouth respondents are:
  • Ioana Chitoran, associate professor of linguistics and French (responding to Bergeron)
  • Leslie Butler, associate professor of history (responding to McCullough)
  • Melanie Benson Taylor, associate professor of Native American Studies (responding to Spillers)
  • Daniel Rockmore, chair of the Department of Mathematics, the director of Dartmouth’s Neukom Institute, and the William H. Neukom 1964 Distinguished Professor of Computational Science (responding to Strogatz)
Writing studies respondents are:
  • Maria Jerskey, associate professor of education and language acquisition, LaGuardia Community College (responding to Bergeron)
  • Keith Gilyard, distinguished professor of English, Pennsylvania State University (responding to McCullough)
  • Patricia Bizzell, Reverend John E. Brooks Professor of Humanities, College of the Holy Cross (responding to Spillers)
  • Kathleen Blake Yancey, the Kellogg W. Hunt Professor of English, Florida State University (responding to Strogatz)
All events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required by September 28. Click here to register for “The Writing Summit 2012: The Power of Writing in the Contemporary World” on October 2 and 3. 
Keith Chapman